Monday, September 21, 2009

The Structure of Creativity

I have been puzzling over this thing called creativity for many years. One of my challenges has been to identify the elements that make up creativity and then figure out if others can learn to become more creative.

For a number of years I have been facilitating creativity workshops and retreats so I was always challenged to find ways of making them ‘better’ for people although the feedback from them has been great.

I am reminded of a quote from Terrance Conran, the designer, who said:

“I’ve never met a truly creative person who was happy and satisfied with life. They are always worried about something, that something is not right. They could improve the world. I needed through creativity, inspiration – whatever – and quite a lot of common sense - to find a better way of doing it.”

That’s me and this is my thinking around the structure of creativity to date. It may change – but that’s the nature of creativity. I explored a range of visual ways of trying to get across my thinking – there was the Creativity Diamond, the Starfish Model of Creativity and now I have the Parthenon.
Built in the 5th century BC, the original Parthenon is a temple of the Greek goddess Athena whom the people of Athens considered their protector. Its stylistic conventions have become the paradigm of Classical architecture, and its style has influenced architecture for many centuries after it was built.

Which is what I hope that my Parthenon might do – influence creativity for many years to come - nothing wrong with delusions of grandeur!!

Like any structure that is built to last the Parthenon rests on a solid foundation, topped with a floor. It has wall pillars supporting the roof. When we have all of these in place we have the framework that will support our creative edge.
Let’s explore the construction of the building in a little more depth.

The Foundation – that’s you - your beliefs, your values, your attitude and your motivation - those aspects of you that make up your character. It is the base on which your creativity rests.

The question to ask is how does your present character support your creative intentions?

To become more creative you may have to take a close look at your character and decide that some change is needed. Once you can identify the character qualities you’re missing, you can consciously develop them. But as long as you remain in the dark about these deficiencies, it will be tough to reach your creative intention because you won’t yet be the kind of person who can achieve it.

Select one of your creativity goals or intentions, perhaps one where your progress has been disappointing. Now ask yourself if a person with different character attributes would be more capable of achieving this goal than you are. What kind of person would find your creative intention easy to achieve?

Ask yourself the following questions:
What would a person with more vision do in my situation?
What would a person who fully accepted their reality do in my situation?
What would a person with more curiosity do in my situation?
What would a person with more competence do in my situation?
What would a person with more courage do in my situation?
By asking these questions for each of your creative intentions, you’ll end up with a list of character qualities to develop. By strengthening these qualities, you’ll become the kind of person who can and will achieve your creative intention.

The Floor - these are the elements of your character that I alluded to previously. They rest on the foundation and support the pillars of your creativity. I believe that creative people exhibit certain aspects of character.
They are: Vision, Reality, Curiosity, Courage and Competence
The Pillars - the framework that supports the roof - these are the day to day 'habits' that creative people exhibit that give them a creative edge. They are: Be open, Collect, Challenge, Seek, Surround, and Play.

Future blogs will look at each of these in more detail. In the meantime if you would like to purchase the book - in pdf form on disc - you can order a copy from me or from the Creative Skills Training Council

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