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Creativity is About Connections

Creative Minds

 

A Regular Column by Anthony D. Fredericks

Creativity is About Connections

One of the more persistent myths about creativity is that a creative idea is a totally original idea.  That is, to be creative one must be able to create ideas that have never been thought before.  The thinking is that each idea must be new, original, and fresh – a thought or an object that has never before existed in any shape or form.  It is absolutely original.

The truth is that most innovative ideas are not entirely original.  In many cases, they are simply the marriage of previous ideas into a new concept or format.  Creativity often involves the ability to take existing knowledge and restructure it into a new format.  It’s about making connections with stuff that’s already there.  Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, brought this into perspective when he said:

“Creativity is just connecting things.  When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they really didn’t do it, they just saw something.  It seemed obvious to them after a while.  That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.  And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or that they have thought more about their experiences than other people.”

One of the most-oft cited cases of creativity centers around Johannes Gutenberg who, in 1450 created movable type and the printing press.  Movable metal pieces allowed pages to be printed much more quickly than the standard wooden blocks used to press ink onto paper.  His “combination of pre-existing technologies” created printing presses that could print thousands of pages a day.  This revolution allowed books to be created more quickly and more efficiently – allowing the middle class to obtain them as never before.  The result was the rapid spread of knowledge across the European continent.  That intellectual revolution came about due, in large measure, to the combination of two previous (and seemingly unconnected) ideas: a wine press and a coin punch.

“A wonderful harmony is created when we join together the seemingly unconnected.” 

– Heraclitus

 

 

 

Dr. Anthony D. Fredericks is an award-winning author of more than 170 books, including the highly anticipated From Fizzle to Sizzle: The Hidden Forces Crushing Your Creativity and How You Can Overcome Them (January 2, 2022) as well as five other Blue River Press titles (e.g. Ace Your Teacher Interview).  He also pens a regular blog (“Creative Insights”) for Psychology Today.com (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/contributors/anthony-d-fredericks-edd)

 

 

Creativity vs. Logic

Creative Minds

A Regular Column by Anthony D. Fredericks

Creativity vs. Logic

Too often, we think logically.  Our education and experiences have taught us that logical thinking is planned, systematic, and dependable.  That’s true, but too much logical thinking crushes our creative instincts and frequently prevents the generation of unique and signature ideas.  We often sacrifice creativity for efficiency.

One of the best ways to break yourself from this over-emphasis on logic is to practice creating alternative uses for common objects.  For example, let’s assume you are wearing a pair of socks.  What are some other alternate uses for socks?  Here are a few I came up with:  A cover for your golf clubs, hand warmers on a cold morning walk, keep your dog’s legs warm when you take him outside, a protective “bag” to carry eggs.  Use them to dry the dishes or to create a surrealistic mural on your living room wall (dip them into paint and be your own “Salvador Dali”).  You also have a set of puppets to tell a story to your child – draw a face on each one and create your own story characters.  Cut the end off each one and slide the ends over your ears in the winter: inexpensive ear warmers.  Or, slip an old one over your hand to clean off the side-view mirrors on your car.

So, here’s your challenge.  Identify a common object at home or your place of work (e.g. pencil, file folder, broom, screwdriver, bottle, shoelace, etc.).  See if you can conjure at least 20 different uses for that item.  If you want, pick your own two-digit number (e.g. 23, 17, 44).  Generate as many possibilities as you can within a designated period (e.g. five minutes, ten minutes).  You, like me, will most likely discover that you have set your mind on fire – breaking it out of its more familiar thinking (logical) patterns and setting it free to examine new ideas and new possibilities.

If you’re the competitive type, do this activity with a friend or colleague.  Who can come up with the most alternative uses (for a piece of copper wire, a coffee filter, a cereal bowl, or a tennis ball [for example] in five minutes?  You will be amazed at what transpires.

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.”

– Albert Einstein

__________________

Dr. Anthony D. Fredericks is an award-winning author of more than 170 books, including the highly anticipated From Fizzle to Sizzle: The Hidden Forces Crushing Your Creativity and How You Can Overcome Them (January 2, 2022) as well as five other Blue River Press titles (e.g. The Adjunct Professor’s Complete Guide to Teaching College).  He also pens a regular blog (“Creative Insights”) for Psychology Today.com (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/contributors/anthony-d-fredericks-edd

 

 

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