Where Science Meets Muse

Want to be Creative? Embrace the Contradictions Within

Posted by Plish on March 10, 2011

Want to know the traits of a creative personality?  Check out this article  by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

He summarizes, “If I had to express in one word what makes their personalities different from others, it’s complexity. They show tendencies of thought and action that in most people are segregated. They contain contradictory extremes; instead of being an “individual,” each of them is a “multitude.””

In essence, creative people are more than the sum of their parts. 

The truth of the matter is that we all are greater than the sum!

But, to be more than the sum, we have to sum the parts in the first place.  Therein lies the challenge.  One person may say, “I’m too focused to be innovative, I have to be.  I’m an accountant!” That same person then comes home and savors the various nuances in her wine collection. 

Wine.  Each type (Cabernet, Merlot, Zinfandel, etc.) follows certain rules.  Diverge from the rules and a Merlot can’t be called a Merlot.  Yet, no two Merlots are alike.  No two vineyards follow the same processes.  In fact, some wineries are quite innovative in how they process grapes, how they bottle, etc.

Wineries, like accountants, could simply say, “We need to be conservative!  People have been making wines for millenia, and our customers expect stability!” 


People expect and want authenticity.  Sure there are rules accountants need to follow.  But if wineries can innovate, so can accountants. 

Practically speaking, this means that our accountant friend needs to break down the wall that separates her work desk from the vineyard.    To be more than the sum of her parts, she needs to say, “I can be innovative and creative, because I’m more than an accountant, I’m a sommelier!”

The good news is that when we embrace who we are in all our varied facets,  when we break down the walls, we become more than the sum of our parts because we  become whole people, and the various aspects  inter-relate and inform each other. 

The result is that we are  empowered and enabled to be more creative,  more fulfilled, more authentic human beings.

What about corporate cultures,  how can they support this? Some great info here, but the bottom line? 

Let people be whole; in fact, encourage it.  Your business depends on it.


2 Responses to “Want to be Creative? Embrace the Contradictions Within”

  1. Nice post, I like the idea that creativity is about internal contradictions – you might like http://justifieddesign.wordpress.com/2011/02/09/you-are-already-unique/
    on a similar theme or http://justifieddesign.wordpress.com/2011/01/17/authenticity-is-the-green-you-cant-buy/

  2. Plish said

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Stopped by your blog -nice! All the best!

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