I got triggered today…well actually I got triggered a few weeks ago, but it has taken me quite a while to write this blog. I read something online, and my brains did “hey…huh whut…dafuq??!”
It happens to me a lot. I get triggered easily.
It almost always leads to exploring and examining my thoughts and trying to figure out why I got triggered in the first place. While examining my thoughts, I felt like writing about it. So here I am.
I was swiping through my Instagram stories when my eye caught a sentence. I can’t remember it exactly, but the person was saying something along the lines of how it was “asking for trouble if you wear white clothes as a creative person”.
Obviously totally innocent. But instantly my brains short-circuited. “What is this person saying?”, and “Why is it triggering me so much?”
It didn’t take me very long to figure out why this happened. It has something to do with how some people perceive creativity, and how I …. uhhhmm … don’t.
It happened to me before, a few years ago.
I was still a teacher at a primary school, where I also taught art. The principal asked me if I could lead a brainstorm session with some mindmapping in preparation of a theme week. It was my thing, I was always brainstorming and mindmapping with kids. I also did some mindmapping with my colleagues before, but a few of them didn’t see the added value of brainstorming and making mindmaps.
I realized that in order for them to see the added value of brainstorming, I needed to teach them something about how our brains work and about creativity. So I asked the principal if I could get some more time to also do a small workshop about creativity. He said yes.
“I’m not creative, I can’t draw”
When some colleagues got word that I was preparing a workshop about creativity, some panicked a bit. One colleague came up to me and said: “Simone, I really don’t know. I’m not creative, I can’t draw”.
That was the first time my brains did “huh, wait, whut?!”
At that point I realized how important it is to understand what creativity is and how it works. Not all people that are creative can draw, and not all people that can draw are creative. One of the most creative people I know never gets his clothes dirty while being creative. He uses his creativity to solve difficult technical problems (sorry Jan, I’m probably selling your profession short).
Want to experience creativity? Try talking with a group of toddlers about one subject!
Have you ever tried to talk with a group of toddlers about a certain subject? If you ever did, you might already know where I’m heading.
I did, many times, and oh boy it can be difficult. I once, in my early days as a teacher, tried to have a conversation about spring flowers with 25 toddlers, when all of a sudden a boy told me his favorite dinosaur was a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Our initial reaction can be “We are not talking about dinosaurs”. I even have heard some teachers say “doe eens normaal” (act normal).
Trust me, this kid is not trying to sabotage your conversation about the flowers. Talking about flowers triggered something in this little boy’s head that led him to thinking about his favorite dinosaur. He made a few connections, and BOOM, T-Rex!!
What is happening in his head, is completely normal. We might not be able to see the connections this kid is making, but that doesn’t mean we have the right to tell him to act normal or to pay attention. Trust me on this one as well, he probably was paying attention.
So what has this got to do with creativity?
Why am I telling about the kid and his dinosaur?
Well, people that are good at having creative ideas are good at seeing connections. “Creativity is just connecting things” (Steve Jobs).
This kid connected his favorite dinosaur to the spring flowers. Telling this kid to act normal a few times too many could potentially kill his creativity.
The more unexpected the connection, the more dramatic the breakthrough
Dorte Nielsen and Sarah Thurber wrote a very interesting book about this subject: “The secret of the highly creative thinker – How to make connections others don’t”
In their book they talk about making connections that others don’t. The more unexpected the connection, the more dramatic the breakthrough.
Apparently Greek philosopher Heraclitus was on to this many years ago when he said: “The unexpected connection is more powerful than the one that is obvious“.
Making connections is at the core of every creative process.
And you know what!?? You can learn making these connections and it can be trained. And maybe if we stop telling kids to act normal, when they make unexpected connections, they don’t have to relearn it when they’re older!
“Highly creative people are good at seeing connections. By enhancing your ability to see connections, you can enhance you creativity” (Dorte Nielsen).
Creativity is a 21st century skill that we need. It enables us to solve problems that seem too difficult to be solved.
“Scientists are among the most deliberate connection-makers of all. They know that scientific discovery is almost never the result of a single connection, but a series of connections, each one standing on the shoulders of the one before.” (from: “The secret of the highly creative thinker”)
We find creative thinkers in many fields: art, science (have you ever heard of biomimicry? Google it! It’s fascinating!), music, writing, etcetera.
So if you ever get worried about the “weird” connections in your head, in your partner’s head or in your kid’s head… embrace them! Use them! Enjoy them! Feed them!
Picasso knew it:
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.“
And artists come in many forms!