What do “Creative People” do?

fortunecookiesA recent book has gotten some main-stream attention in a business context connected to the current cries for innovation. After a 2014 Huffington Post article, the author teamed with an academic and cowrote, Wired to Create. While an interesting and easy read containing ideas intent on identifying creative people based on behavioral traits, the book requires a deeper review of creative behaviors to attain truth toward innovative people at work.

As with all books pertaining to advice on living, there is a solid level of “fortune cookie” thinking contained within Wired to Create. The ideas contained in the presented truths of how to identify creative people are attached to ‘science’, validating the validity of the presentation. Yet, as with all good fortune cookies, there must be a kernel of validity to imagine the possibility of the fortune becoming real. Be careful of the science being promoted.

When reading through the list of behavioral characteristic from the original article, consider if you exhibit the personality trait in your life.



What do “creative people” do?
1. daydream
2. observe everything
3. work the hours that work for them
4. take time for solitude
5. turn life’s obstacles around
6. seek out new experiences
7. “fail up”
8. ask the big questions
9. people-watch
10. take risks
11. view all of life as an opportunity for self-expression
12. follow their true passions
13. get out of their own heads
14. lose track of the time
15. surround themselves with beauty
16. connect the dots
17. constantly shake things up
18. make time for mindfulness

How did you decide if the characteristic was true to you? Did you decide with a “Yes” or a “No”? Did you allow yourself the possible answer of “It Depends”? I suspect we all exhibit each of these characteristics within our living, work, learning, family and cultural patterns. Is it true that we are all creatives?

It depends.

What problems are we solving? What dreams are we imagining? What ideas are we creating? Do you or do I measure up to Picasso in terms of creativity? Was Picasso always non-linear in his life and the way he lived it? Not likely, as he certainly had to eat, relieve himself, relate to others, and most famously, he intended to achieve his personal goal of becoming the highest paid living artist in history. Such a goal required the antithesis of several of the traits listed above. And he achieved his goal.

All good fortunes focus on the gray zones of possible futures. I received a fortune once that stated: “Your high-minded principles spell success.” I thought for a moment about being “high-minded”, both in terms of being smart, and being aloof. And my principles, well certainly I stand by my principles, whatever those are? And even though I have been a lifelong suffer in poor spelling, I do want to achieve success! In the end, I wadded up the strip of paper and tossed it into the garbage. Possibly, you may be equally critical of the list above about the suggested behavioral characteristic of a creative person.

I would choose to suggest that I am a creative person. I know with much practice where my greatest frustrations and excitements for work, life and loves come from. I resist order and familiarity, while seeking out those tensions that excite me personally – like this book and article. I am certain you reach for things that interest you as well, as I know with great certainty you too are a creative person. You took the couple of minutes needed to read this attempt at a semi-diatribe, hoping for an idea to experience.

The idea I share is to discern the truth yourself without the need for a constraint such as being creative. Appreciate the noise of our idea-laden world full of fortune cookie guidance, but discern your own value of self, away from judgmental comparison.

I choose to crunch the cookie and discard the piece of paper holding this list of 18 traits with a smile.