Tuesday, October 30, 2007

i'm not clever, i'm creative

Kids have wonderful imaginations, as we know.

But we seem to have a fairly black and white distinction between child-like innocence and grown-up understanding. I for one, can claim to be very smart in some ways and very stupid in others even though I'm old enough to drive an articulated lorry and foster a Romanian child. If you feel that way too, then I offer you hope.

While working my way through Stumbling on Happiness (I should be on commission), I read a fairly obvious but well-crafted point about the way we 'imagine'. In short, it said that when we construct visions of the future, we use a particular material more than any other. That material is the 'present'. Author, Gilbert, goes on to say that this is why futurology studies always presents us with worlds very similar to the one we live in at the time of writing.

I started to think about the people I've met that 'understand the present' better than others and I was reminded that often, in my professional experience, the people who have the most robust understanding of the way things are now usually turn out to have the least original creative ideas. Then I thought about myself. I'm very creative and have a vivid imagination, but I can get lost easily in the nitty-gritty of very complex ideas. I tend to absorb just enough of a topic to get the gist of it, rather than dissect it and explore it in huge detail. (like the way I read newspapers)

As my brother said when I mentioned this, 'thinking outside the box is easier when the box is loosely constructed'.

In my defence, part of my consumption of culture and media is deliberately sparse to cast my net wider, but part of it is my brain. I'm just not an academic in that sense.

The point I'm making is is not necessarily that new, but it's something I've been thinking a lot about recently. Because we naturally desire to be more "knowledgeable" as we get older. Indeed, I evolved from Creative to Strategist because it is natural to, over time, ask bigger questions. Question is: If you want to harness the power of your imagination, when do you stop asking questions?

If you can identify with this at all and at times find yourself feeling a bit dim when your peers start talking about a new sewage plan and its likely impact on a new legislation about public service charges, then just remember, you'd probably be better at devising an original sewage system than any of them.

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