New innovations are unfamiliar combinations of current building blocks
Master the rules so you can break them
Taking ideas from different domains and applying them to your ideas is a great way to have break through insights
Developing a flexible mind is key – aim to find inspiration from any field
Prime yourself and then let the subconscious mind mull and dream
When the world is ready for our idea, it tends to pop up at several places at the same time
Being well-connected across social circles helps in spreading your creativity and having serendipity aid you in your journey
Creativity = curiosity + imagination + action
Gain technical and cultural rules, then add skills
Productive thinking creates new knowledge structures
Finding a problem comes down to identifying the right problem to solve and framing it in the right context. When you put problems in a different context, by questioning whether you are solving the right problem, the number and nature of possible solutions change along with the context
Creativity finds problems by questioning the existing knowledge structure of a conceptual domain
Creativity is a mental tool that solves problems by divergent thinking (finding as many solutions as possible) and convergent thinking (finding the best solution)
The largest portion of the creative process consists of exploring a proverbial map that is still partly undiscovered. Because we often don’t know where we are heading, serendipity is important for finding our destination. In fact, the less detailed the map, the more important Darwinian trial and error becomes.
Creativity is an evolutionary mechanism of trial and error that helps human beings and cultures to constantly adapt to changing environments
Creativity builds rich knowledge structures and executes complex ideas through interaction between individuals
We can expand the capacity of our brain by means of a notebok because it allows us to consciously play with ideas outside our brain. With the internet, we can also expand our knowledge and interact with others. Interaction between individuals catalyzes the creative process. Great ideas, however, are always built with a single-minded vision
I never search, I find. – Pablo Picasso
The paradox of finding an insight is that only when we stop consciously searching for it do we come across it
Preparation to Incubation to Inspiration
Sharing ideas is great but having an active conversation really catalyzes the creative process
Collaborative Creativity, Distributed Cognition
What I got out of it
Creativity is a process that consists of internalizing the rules that define a domain (preparation), of letting the acquired knowledge digest while we wait for an insight to appear (incubation), and of assessing and execution the insight (verification). Having a flexible, open, multidisciplinary minds that seeks out connections aids in creativity and reaching insights
A response is judged as creative to the extent that it is a) it is both a novel and appropriate, useful, correct, or valuable response to the task at hand and b) the task is heuristic rather than algorithmic
Art is basically the production of order out of chaos
If at first you don’t succeed, surrender
Drop mental striving
Apply yourself to a task – full presence and devotion to the task at hand puts us in harmony with our creative source. We dedicate ourselves to the work itself, not to a false personality
Maintain a spirit of inquiry
Acknowledge that you don’t know how it’s going to turn out
Ask yourself a clear question about a key issue before going to sleep
Destroy judgement, create curiosity
Less judgment leads to more curiosity and more creativity
Lower judgment by paying attention to your thoughts, attacking the judgment, making the judgment look ridiculous
Aim for thoughtfulness and mindfulness without thinking
Avoid habits as they are unconscious acts
Fine-tuned listening encourages healing
High achievers can tell you in 3D terms what they learn from their failures and how they applied that. They think of failures in terms of learning experiences to be applied
Ask dumb questions
Creativity always starts with a question – the quality of your creativity is determined by the quality of your questions
Questions are essential in finding joy in life
Don’t jump to answers, keep the questions open
By its very nature, a creative life must be a questioning one
Do only what is effortless, easy, enjoyable (EEE)
The test of a vocation is the love of the drudgery it involves. – Logan Pearsall Smith
Surprisingly, EEE turns into a discipline for achieving a higher goal: the discovery of your true purpose in life
Da Vinci’s response to his greatest accomplishment was “Da Vinci!”
There can be no drudgery in work that is a matter of growing self-expression, and no boredom in days that are permeated with the knowledge of your own boundless base, demonstrated in each personal task
When you live with EEE you find almost a spiritual purpose for your life. You know that you are practicing your true vocation when you love all the hard work, responsibility, and tedium that goes with it
A life centered around a clear purpose is totally integrated
When we love our work, then we don’t have to be managed by fear or force. We can build systems that facilitate creativity, rather than be preoccupied with checks and controls on people who are motivated to beat or exploit the system. I believe that everyone wants to find both quality and love in work.
Do nothing without enthusiasm
Rank tasks, break into small pieces, do 1 thing at a time
Don’t think about it! – Beginner’s Mind
Unstructured free time to wander, physical and mental relaxation
Don’t focus on success or failure, simply learning
What I got out of it
I felt calm and enthusiastic while reading this book. The parts about EEE (easy, effortless, enjoyable) resonated deeply and is the biggest thing I’ll remember from this book
I should be looking for talent that is on its way up rather than that which has a long track record. Seek those cool spark good questions how benefit and move an institution forward or start their own institution. Talent is increasingly scarce at honing how you think about it or make it more likely that you find retain and inspire it
Finding talent is hugely inefficient today and this book will hopefully help rectify that problem in a small way
Talent search is both an art and a science
How to interview and hire
What are the open tabs in your browser right now? – downtime revealed preferences are what you’re looking for. How do people spend their leisure time. Personality is revealed during weekends
You need to show genuine curiosity and prove deeply. Conversational tones are more effective at learning about the candidate than checklists
Seek to determine resourcefulness by asking questions they’re likely not prepared for such as the question above or asking about something unusual they did as a child
The best interviews are not formal and give you a clear glimpse into a drains thinking and values. Change the setting, find ways to get them to show and share emotion, etc
Did you feel appreciated in your last job? How and why?
What are 10 words a friend or spouse would use to describe you?
If you weren’t here in 3-6 months, what would have happened? What about 5 years?
How ambitious are you?
References are key, especially for more senior hires
Try to get at someone’s drawbacks through reference calls
Would you happily work for this person? Can they get you to where you need to go faster than a reasonable person could? When you disagree, is it as likely that you’ll be wrong as they are?
Track record of actual achievements appears to be the most reliable predictor of future success
Intelligence is of course important but is likely overvalued in relation to other traits
Seek someone who is better every time you meet them. Also, those with perseverance, grit, open mindedness, stamina, an action for bias, conceptual frameworks,
Many sectors rely on scouts to find and refer talent. The search portion is important today but keep an open mind that measurement may improve over time, making it easier for systems to better know the likelihood of someone’s potential talent and success
Raising others aspirations is one of the most important uses of your time
What I got out of it
Developing a deeper understanding of how to find, spot, keep, inspire talent leads to advantageous divergence. Tyler and Daniel do a great job of discussing it at a fun, abstract level but also giving you pragmatic tips on how to think about the hiring process
I have little interest in teaching you what I know. I wish to stimulate you to tell me what you know. In my office toward you I am simply trying to improve my own environment.
Know what the old masters did. Know how they composed their pictures, but do not fall into the conventions they established. These conventions were right for them, and they are wonderful. They made their language. You make yours. They can help you. All the past can help you.
He who has contemplated has met with himself, is in a state to see into the realities beyond the surfaces of his subject. Nature reveals to him, and, seeing and feeling intensely, he paints, and whether he wills it or not each brush stroke is an exact record of such as he was at the exact moment the stroke was made.
The value of repeated studies of beginnings of a painting cannot be over-estimated. Those who cannot begin do not finish.
There is a time and place for all things, the difficulty is to use them only in their proper time and places.
The study of art is the study of the relative value of things. The factors of a work of art cannot be used constructively until their relative values are known. Unstable governments, like unstable works of art, are such as they are because values have not been appreciated.
A good painting is a remarkable feat of organization. Every part of it is wonderful in itself because it seems so alive in its share in the making of the unity of the whole, and the whole is so definitely one thing.
No vacillating or uncertain interest can produce a unity.
We are instinctively blind to what is not relative. We are not cameras. We select. We do this always when we are not painting.
All things change according to the state we are in. Nothing is fixed.
In drawing, Rembrandt with a cast shadow or just a line or two realized for us the most complete sense of space, that is, background, environment. He could do this because he saw and he had the genius of selection. Look at his simplest drawings and you will see that he was a supreme master in this.
If you want to know how to do a thing you must first have a complete desire to do that thing. Then go to kindred spirits—others who have wanted to do that thing—and study their ways and means, learn from their successes and failures and add your quota. Thus you may acquire from the experience of the race. And with this technical knowledge you may go forward, expressing through the play of forms the music that is in you and which is very personal to you.
I love the tools made for mechanics. I stop at the windows of hardware stores. If I could only find an excuse to buy many more of them than I have already bought on the mere pretense that I might have use for them! They are so beautiful, so simple and plain and straight to their meaning. There is no “Art” about them, they have not been made beautiful, they are beautiful.
Someone has defined a work of art as a “thing beautifully done.” I like it better if we cut away the adverb and preserve the word “done,” and let it stand alone in its fullest meaning. Things are not done beautifully. The beauty is an integral part of their being done.
All manifestations of art are but landmarks in the progress of the human spirit toward a thing but as yet sensed and far from being possessed.
The picture that looks as if it were done without an effort may have been a perfect battlefield in its making.
No thing is beautiful. But all things await the sensitive and imaginative mind that may be aroused to pleasurable emotion at sight of them. This is beauty.
No knowledge is so easily found as when it is needed.
It is harder to see than it is to express. The whole value of art rests in the artist’s ability to see well into what is before him.
A genius is one who can see. The others can often “draw” remarkably well. Their kind of drawing, however, is not very difficult. They can change about. They can make their sight fit the easiest way for their drawing. As their seeing is not particular it does not matter. With the seer it is different. Nothing will do but the most precise statement. He must not only bend technique to his will, but he must invent technique that will especially fit his need. He is not one who floats affably in his culture. He is the blazer of the road for what he has to bring.
Those who have the will to create do not care to use old phrases.
A great artist is one who says as nearly what he means as his powers of invention allow. An ordinary artist often uses eloquent phrases, phrases of established authority, and if he is skillful it is surprising to see how he can nearly make them fit his ideas—or how he can make the ideas give way to the phrase.
I have been trying to make this matter clear—this matter that the whole fun of the thing is in seeing and inventing, trying to refute a common idea that education is a case of collecting and storing, instead of making. It’s not easy. But the matter is mighty well worth considering.
If you want to know about people watch their gestures. The tongue is a greater liar than the body.
Don’t belong to any school. Don’t tie up to any technique.
All outward success, when it has value, is but the inevitable result of an inward success of full living, full play and enjoyment of one’s faculties.
People say, “It is only a sketch.” It takes the genius of a real artist to make a good sketch—to express the most important things in life
The value of a school should be in the meeting of students. The art school should be the life-centre of a city. Ideas should radiate from it.
Join no creed, but respect all for the truth that is in them.
I am sure there are many people—and there are artists—who have never seen a whole head. They look from feature to feature. You can’t draw a head until you see it whole. It’s not easy. Try it.
No use trying to draw a thing until you have got all around it. It is only then that you comprehend a unity of which the parts can be treated as parts.
Keep your old work. You did it. There are virtues and there are faults in it for you to study. You can learn more from yourself than you can from anyone else.
No one can get anywhere without contemplation. Busy people who do not make contemplation part of their business do not do much for all their effort.
There is the heart and the mind, the Puritan idea is that the mind must be master. I think the heart should be master and the mind should be the tool and servant of the heart. As it is, we give too much attention to laws and not enough to principles. The man who wants to produce art must have the emotional side first, and this must be reinforced by the practical.
Some students possess the school they work in. Others are possessed by the school.
Let a student enter the school with this advice: No matter how good the school is, his education is in his own hands. All education must be self-education.
The best art the world has ever had is but the impress left by men who have thought less of making great art than of living full and completely with all their faculties in the enjoyment of full play. From these the result is inevitable.
The technique learned without a purpose is a formula which when used, knocks the life out of any ideas to which it is applied.
Develop your visual memory. Draw everything you have drawn from the model from memory as well.
There is no end to the study of technique. Yet more important than the lifelong study of technique is the lifelong self-education. In fact, technique can only be used properly by those who have definite purpose in what they do, and it is only they who invent technique. Otherwise it is the work of parrots.
There is nothing more entertaining than to have a frank talk with yourself. Few do it—frankly. Educating yourself is getting acquainted with yourself.
I believe in the study of technique. One should know as far as possible all the possibilities of a medium.
Painting should never look as if it were done with difficulty, however difficult it may actually have been.
We must realize that artists are not in competition with each other.
Always we would try to tie down the great to our little nationalism; whereas every great artist is a man who has freed himself from his family, his nation, his race. Every man who has shown the world the way to beauty, to true culture, has been a rebel, a “universal” without patriotism, without home, who has found his people everywhere, a man whom all the world recognizes, accepts, whether he speaks through music, painting, words or form.
There is the new movement. There always has been the new movement and there always will be the new movement. It is strange that a thing which comes as regularly as clockwork should always be a surprise. In new movements the pendulum takes a great swing, charlatans crowd in, innocent apes follow, the masters make their successes and they make their mistakes as all pioneers must do. It is necessary to pierce to the core to get at the value of a movement and not be confused by its sensational exterior.
I am not interested in art as a means of making a living, but I am interested in art as a means of living a life.
It is not easy to know what you like. Most people fool themselves their entire lives through about this. Self-acquaintance is a rare condition.
We are all different; we are to do different things and see different life. Education is a self-product, a matter of asking questions and getting the best answers we can get. We read a book, a novel, any book, we are interested in it to the degree we find in it answers to our questions.
I can think of no greater happiness than to be clear-sighted and know the miracle when it happens.
With a great will to say a thing comes clairvoyance. The more positively you have the need of a certain expression the more power you will have to select out of chaos the term of that expression.
It is not desirable to devote all your time to an appreciation of art. Art should drive you forth. It should be an incentive to life. The greatest value of art to the appreciator is in that it stimulates to personal activity.
Those who live their lives will leave the stuff that is really art. Art is a result. It is the trace of those who have led their lives.
It takes a tremendous amount of courage to be young, to continue growing—not to settle and accept. The most beautiful life possible, wherein there is no sordidness, is only attainable by effort. To be free, to be happy and fruitful, can only be attained through sacrifice of many common but overestimated things.
Keep up the work. Try to reduce everything you see to the utmost simplicity. That is, let nothing but the things which are of the utmost importance to you have any place.
The only education that counts is self-education.
The pernicious influence of prize and medal giving in art is so great that it should be stopped. You can give prizes justly for long-distance jumps, because you can measure jumps with a foot-rule. No way has been devised for measuring the value of a work of art. History proves that juries in art have been generally wrong. With few exceptions the greatest artists have been repudiated by the art juries in all countries and at all times.
To work, mind and body, and to be alone enough to concentrate is the thing.
I have no sympathy with the belief that art is the restricted province of those who paint, sculpt, make music and verse. I hope we will come to an understanding that the material used is only incidental, that there is artist in every man; and that to him the possibility of development and of expression and the happiness of creation is as much a right and as much a duty to himself, as to any of those who work in the especially ticketed ways.
I think the real artists are too busy with just being and growing and acting (on canvas or however) like themselves to worry about the end. The end will be what it will be. The object is intense living, fulfillment; the great happiness in creation. People sometimes phrase about the joy of work. It is only in creative work that joy may be found.
There is a joy in the pursuit of anything. Life is finding yourself. It is a spirit development.
Your drawing should be an expression of your spiritual sight.
Keep a bad drawing until by study you have found out why it is bad.
When away from model draw from memory. Draw also opposite or very different views from what you had in the class.
Look for the spirit line that runs through everything.
Self-education, only, produces expression of self. Don’t ask for a criticism until you are sure you can’t give it yourself. Then you will be in a fine state to receive it. You cannot impose education on anyone.
If you get stuck with your painting, make a sketch of the model in another medium. It will give you a fresh eye.
In life we eradicate much to see beauty.
Everybody who has any respect for painting feels scared when he starts a new canvas.
All real works of art look as though they were done in joy.
See things not as they are, but as you see them.
What I got out of it
One of the more beautiful books I’ve read in sometime. Art is the study of the relative of things, art is drawing what you see and not drawing things as they are, it’s about making things and not the study of it, don’t limit yourself to any one school, all education is self-education. Worth re-reading!
Defining genius in a psychological manner. Genius, defined as supreme creative achievement, socially recognized over the centuries, is the product of many different components acting synergistically, i.e., multiplying with each other, rather than simply adding one to the other. Among the components are high intelligence, persistence, and creativity, regarded as a trait. Trait creativity may or may not issue in creative achievement, depending on the presence of the many other qualifications and situational conditions. Prominent among these additional qualifications are certain personality traits, such as ego-strength (the inner strength to function autonomously), to resist popular pressure, and to persist in endeavor in spite of negative reinforcement…Chief among these cognitive features is a tendency to overinclusiveness, an inclination not to limit one’s associations to relevant ideas, memories, images
Genius and Psychoticism
Genius is linked to but not full psychosis. Psychoticism may hold key to better understanding of genius
Psychosis not correlated to genius as commonly thought; high pathology short of psychosis is helpful, as is ego-strength (emotional stability)
Schizophrenics have ‘over inclusive’ thinking – filter mechanism breaks down and everything is important and related all at once. This looseness of thinking also found in the most creative, but doesn’t become psychosis
Talent vs. Genius
Talent works, genius creates – argues talent and genius lie on a continuum, not discrete
Talent clusters in families, genius does not
Necessary characteristics needed too are unlikely to cluster
Despite Galton’s hypothesis of ’eminence’ being normally distributed, the evidence from creativity as achievement shows it to be very abnormally distributed
Intelligence vs. Genius
The distinction between a dispositional variable and what we might call an achievement variable (school success, production of a work of genius) is absolutely vital in understanding psychological analyses of abilities and traits. The distinction currently made between trait and state, say of anxiety, embodies the distinction. The dispositional hypothesis states that some people are more likely than others to react with anxiety to situations perceived as dangerous, and to perceive as dangerous situations which to others may not appear to be so. But a state of anxiety may be induced even in non-anxious persons by presenting them with a very real danger, while even those high on trait anxiety may be quire relaxed up on occasion when no trace danger looms
IQ tests very predictive of success, seems to be about 70% biological
High IQ does not equate to genius, necessary but not sufficient (ambitious, chunking, training, perseverance)
Achievement tends to be higher in nearly every category, contra to the common perception of the idiot savant
Personality correlates with higher achievement as well
We may incorporate Galton’s view as follows: Capacity (intelligence, special abilities) x Zeal (persistence, hard work) x Striving (motivation, fighting spirit) –> Reputation –> Genius
Cognitive variables (intelligence, knowledge, technical skills, special talent) x environmental variables (political-religious, cultural, socioeconomic, education) x personality variables (internal motivation, confidence, non-conformity) –> Creative Achievement
Often, the most creative act is the selection of the problem. Such a selection takes into account the importance of the problem, how much is known about it, previous attempts, possible remote sources of information not previously considered, probability that the problem is soluble at the present time, and many more
Poincare – Invention is discernment, choice
All cognitive endeavors require new associations to be made, or old ones to be reviewed. There are marked differences between individuals in the speed with which associations are formed. Speed in the formation of associations is the foundation of individual differences in intelligence. Only a sub-sample of associations is relevant in a given problem. Individuals differ in the range of associations considered in problem-solving. Wideness of range is the foundation of individual differences in creativity. Wideness of range is in principle independent of speed of forming associations suggesting that intelligence and creativity are essentially independent. However, speed of forming associations leads to faster learning, and hence greater number of elements with which to form associations. The range of associations considered for problem-solving is so wide that a critical evaluation is needed to eliminate unsuitable associations. Genuine creativity requires a) a large pool of elements to form associations, b) speed in producing associations, and c) a well-functioning comparator to eliminate false solutions.
Mark Kac on Ramanujan: An ordinary genius is a fellow that you and I would be just as good as, if we were only many times better. There is no mystery as to how his mind works. Once we understand what he has done, we feel certain that we, too, could have done it. It is different with magicians. They are, to use mathematical jargon, in the orthogonal complement of where we are and the working of their minds is for all intents and purposes incomprehensible. Even after we understand what they have done, the process by which they have done it is completely dark.
Novelty emerges from an individual mind, when it is judged by a committee, orthodoxy will usually prevail
Difficulty in scaling innovation – government entities try to by research and innovation the way they buy potatoes (committee, forms, etc..) and then a top-down approach where they give preference to areas that the government indicates are useful
Fluency – Flexibility – Creativity
Fluency – total number of responses
Flexibility – various categories of response
Originality – unusual, clever, or original responses
Elaboration – how elaborate the response is, in terms of multiple details given
Want originality (unique) + Fluency (number of ideas)
High, but not the highest intelligence, combined with the greatest degree of persistence, will achieve greater eminence than the highest degree of intelligence with somewhat less persistence
Training creativity does little – genetic and synergistic multiplier of right traits
Independence in attitude and social behavior, dominance, introversion, openness to stimuli, wide interests, self-acceptance, intuitiveness, flexibility, social presence and praise, an asocial attitude, concern for social norms, radicalism, rejection of external constraints
The single trait that rates highest among geniuses is the desire to excel
Some common traits – Middle/upper-middle class, Jewish or Protestant, educated, loss of one or both parents before 15
20-40 are the peak ages, slow decline after that
It is possible that an excess of dopamine creates work-addicted geniuses that get positive reinforcement through their labors
Simonton says that by ‘intuitive’ he means behavioral adaptations to the environment which are unconscious, ineffable (impossible to verbalize), and essentially probabilistic in character
General Intelligence + Associations
Intuition for complex tasks, analysis for the simple
Great genius, the most creative, have the hardest time fitting in – they do not abide by social norms, so typically just get ignored
Major innovations tend to come from outside the given field
Clusters of genius in time may be due to great teachers
Sudden illumination is a manifest sign of long, unconscious prior work
There is the preliminary labor, the incubation period, the sudden integration, owing its existence to inspiration rather than conscious logical thought, and finally the verification or proof, perfectly conscious
What I got out of it
An incredibly fun and deep dive into genius. Love the multiplier analogy – Capacity (intelligence, special abilities) x Zeal (persistence, hard work) x Striving (motivation, fighting spirit) –> Reputation –> Genius
Focusing on work-life balance leads to daily rituals which feeds intentions and goals which helps with downtime and creativity. It is a beautiful, virtuous cycle. Schedule time for your creative projects, make creativity habitual by forming positive associations with it, deepen your ocmmitment by identify what you want to create, step back to take care of yourself and get perspective on your work
Although I like to remain receptive and flexible when it comes to the bigger picture, I show up daily for my creative projects. I focus on a “slow and steady” approach to write for an hour or two a day. I don’t fixate on how much I write during that period. I put in the time and don’t worry too much about the results, because I’ll be there again tomorrow. This sort of simmering has worked well for me because, practically speaking, there is only so much time I can spend on a specific project before burning out, and moving between things keeps me fresh. If I stock to one thing for too long, that’s when I start checking social media or reading the news, or otherwise lose focus. I lift weights with my friend John Sharian, who works as an actor. One day he pointed out that if you stop between repetitions, it’s harder to get going again because you’re beginning from a dead spot. He suggested creating a rhythm. I’ve thought of how this relates to my creative work: I do a lot of projects at once so I can move between things with fewer stops. Exercise offers a good metaphor for creativity. You get inspired one day and go for a run. The next day you shock yourself by shaking off the hesitation and getting off the couch again. Then you keep doing it, eventually without even thinking about it. You no longer need to psych yourself out; it just happens. You made it happen, and then you keep making it happen.
What I got out of it
Beautiful book with some great exercises and questions to help you figure out a system and routine to improve your creativity
With some simple but not easy routines, Cameron helps train creativity to be a steady flow rather than to come in fits and spurts
Morning Pages – 3 pages of land hand writing in the morning
A total brain dump to get your juices flowing and to unlock the flood gates
Creates a direct link with the creator within, a pathway to a strong and clear sense of self – our map to our own interior
When I feel lost, I go tot he pages and ask for guidance. I pose a question to myself and write from both question and answer perspectives
Artist Date – a once per week solo adventure, about 2 hours
Move from broadcast to receive, from problems to solutions
In short, theory doesn’t matter as much as the practice itself does
Remember that this is a spiral path. You will circle through some of the issues over and over, each time at a different level. There is no such thing as being done with an artistic life. Frustrations and rewards exist at all levels on the path. Our aim here is to find the trail, establish our footing, and being the climb. The creative vistas that open will quickly excite you.
A word is in order here about logic brain and artist brain. Logic brain is our brain of choice in the Western Hemisphere. it is the categorical brain. It thinks in a neat, linear fashion. As a rule, logic brain perceives the world according to known categories. A horse is a certain combination of animal parts that make up a horse. A fall forest is viewed as a series of colors that add up to “fall forest.” It looks at a fall forest and notes: red, orange, yellow, green, gold. Logic brain was and is our survival brain. It works on known principles. Anything unknown is perceived as wrong and possibly dangerous. Logic brain likes things to be neat little soldiers marching in a straight line. Logic brain is the brain we usually listen to, especially when we are telling ourselves to be sensible. Logic brain is our censor. Artist brain is our inventor, our child, our very own personal absent-minded professor. Artist brain says, “Hey! That is so neat!” It puts odd things together (boat equals wave and walker). It likes calling a speeding GTO a wild animal: “The black howling wolf pulled into the drive-in…” Artist brain is our creative, holistic brain. It thinks in patterns and shadings. It sees a fall forest and thinks: Wow! Leaf bouquet! Pretty! Gold-gilt-shimmery-earthskin-king’s-carpet! Artist brain is associative and freewheeling. It makes new connections, yoking together images to invoke meaning: like the Norse myths calling a boat “wave-horse” In Star Wars, the name Skywalker is a lovely artist-brain flash. Combining both is a powerful mixture
What I got out of it
I’m intrigued enough and will make it a monthly challenge at some point to do both morning pages and the artist date
“The original intent remains: to provide a brief, personal story of the ways persistence, chance, and creativity interact in biomedical research…This is a story of the ways persistence, chance, and creativity interact in medical research. My thesis is that novelty in research is like that in any endeavor-it springs from the dynamic interplay among several ingredients: personal lifestyle, people, luck, intuition, and system.”
Know something about the structure of luck so that at least you don’t do anything to discourage it. Chance I is anyone’s luck; Chance II is anyone-in-motion’s luck. Chance III is luck that comes from one person’s discernment; Chance IV is luck that flows from one unique person’s actions.
The second simple-minded axiom follows from the first: the more diversity among these individual varieties of chance, the more unique is the creative product when their lines intersect. Luck comes in degrees. So does novelty, the hallmark of the creative process, and the yardstick by which its product is measured. A key agency of this novelty is intuition, a process reaching far beyond ordinary logic.
I find medicine and science are meaningless unless they are interwoven with the rest of nature, the arts, and humanities.
Because many new (and some useful) ideas about experiments or methods flash into my thinking anywhere and anytime, I keep a shirt pocketful of file cards to quickly jot down these ideas before they vanish.
Research proliferates,’- and for a simple reason: as one question is answered, at least two new ones arise.
My own research has been indelibly influenced by my personal beliefs and style of living. Nonscientific interests have repeatedly come back to enrich and invigorate my scientific career.
Rather, what seems to be superimposed on the conscious work are some personalized drives and sensibilities interacting with chance. Later, we will say more about the qualities of mind, temperament and instinct that underlie this kind of experience. For the moment, let me note that the episode with Tom the dog can he used as an example of the “barking up the right tree” phenomenon. It means that if you happen to be the kind of person who hunts afield, it may be, in fact, your dog who leads you up to the correct tree, and to a desirable conclusion.
If you are completely candid with yourself, you will soon discover how much your discoveries hinge on contingencies. Every now and then, when you happen to combine both boldness and skill, you may be able to exploit a few of the lucky situations that arise. But skill alone will not be enough, for much of the novelty in creativity is decided only when you are bold enough to thrust at chance.
To sum up, serendipity is the facility for encountering unexpected good luck, as the result of accident and sagacity, as can occur in the course of more generalized, relatively unfocused exploratory behaviors, even meanderings.
The four kinds of chance each have a different kind of motor exploratory activity and a different kind of sensory receptivity. The varieties of chance also involve distinctive personality traits and differ in the way one particular individual influences them.
Chance I – Blind luck. Chance happens and nothing about it is directly attributable to you, the recipient. No specific personality traits are needed
In Chance I, the good luck that occurs is completely accidental. It is pure blind luck that comes with no effort on our part. No particular personality trait is in operation. If, for example, you are sitting playing bridge at a table of four, it’s “in the cards” for you to receive a hand of thirteen spades, but statisticians tell us it will occur on an average only once in 635 billion deals (635,013,559,600).’ You will ultimately draw this lucky hand, but it may involve a rather longer wait than most have time for.
Chance II – The Kettering Principle. Chance favors those in motion. Events are brought together to form “happy accidents” when you diffusely apply your energies in motions that are typically nonspecific. Those who are curious about many things, persistent, willing to experiment and explore benefit from Chance II
Years ago, when I was rushing around in the laboratory working on sulfatides, someone admonished me by asking, “Why all the busyness? One must distinguish between motion and progress. “Yes, at some point this distinction must be made. But it cannot always be made first. And it is not always made consciously. True, waste motion should be avoided. But, if the researcher did not move until he was certain of progress he would accomplish very little. There’s no “standing pat” in research; the posture of creativity is forward-leaning. A certain basal level of action “stirs up the pot,” brings in random ideas that will collide and stick together in fresh combinations, lets chance operate. Motion yields a network of new experiences which, like a sieve, filters best when in constant up-and-down, side-to-side movement. Consistent centrifugal types of motion are what distinguish Chance II; its premise is that unluck runs out if you keep stirring up things so that random elements can combine, by virtue of your and their inherent affinities.
An element of the chase can be involved in Chance II, but action is still your primary goal, not foreseeable results. The action can be an ill-defined meandering, or a restless driving, but it depends on your basic need to release energy, not on your conscious intellect.
Chance III – The Pasteur Principle. Chance favors the prepared mind. Some special receptivity born from past experience permits you to discern a new fact or to perceive ideas in a new relationship. A background of knowledge, based on your abilities to observe, remember, and quickly form significant new associations
Chance III involves a special receptivity, discernment, and intuitive grasp of significance unique to one particular recipient. Louis Pasteur characterized it for all time when he said: “Chance favors only the prepared mind. “Pasteur himself had it in full measure. But the classical example of his principle occurred in 1928, when Sir Alexander Fleming’s mind instantly fused at least five elements into a conceptually unified nexus. He was at his work bench in the laboratory, made an observation, and his mental sequences then went something like this: (1) I see that a mold has fallen by accident into my culture dish; (2) the staphylococcal colonies residing near it failed to grow; (3) therefore, the mold must have secreted something that killed the bacteria; (4) this reminds me of a similar experience I had once before; (5) maybe this new “something” from the mold could be used to kill the bacteria
Chance IV – The Disraeli Principle. Chance favors the individualized action. Fortuitous events occur when you behave in ways that are highly distinctive of you as a person. Let us define it as the facility for encountering unexpected good luck as the result of highly individualized action. Distinctive hobbies, personal life styles, and activities peculiar to you as an individual, especially when they operate in domains seemingly far removed from the area of the discovery.
Chance IV is the kind of luck that develops during a probing action which has a distinctive personal flavor. The English Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, summed up the principle underlying Chance IV when he noted that, as persons, “we make our fortunes and we call them fate.” Disraeli, the practical politician, appreciated that by our actions we each forge our own destiny, at least to some degree. Chance IV comes to you, unsought, because of who you are and how you behave. Disraeli was aware that our so-called “quirks of fate” are often one-man-made. They are a highly individual matter
There is no mystery about Chance IV, nothing supernatural about the way it generates an uncommon discovery. But you do have to look carefully to find Chance IV for three reasons. The first is that when it operates directly, it unfolds in an elliptical, unorthodox manner. The second is that it often works indirectly. The third is that some problems it may help solve are uncommonly difficult to understand because they have gone through a process of selection. We must bear in mind that, by the time Chance IV finally occurs, the easy, more accessible problems will already have been solved earlier by conventional actions, conventional logic, or by the operations of the other forms of chance. What remains late in the game, then, is a tough core of complex, resistant problems. Such problems yield to none but an unusual approach, much as does the odd lock in an old door open only to the rare key.
The most novel, if not the greatest discoveries occur when several varieties of chance coincide. Let us call this unifying observation the Fleming effect. His own life exemplifies it so well, and it deserves special emphasis.
The early chapters of part III will reveal sagacity to be an important attribute, and we haven’t yet fully described its decisive ingredients. Keen powers of observation are among the first of these components, powers so keen that they can quickly “arrest an exception.” Each scientist began by sensing some novel incongruity in the fact in front of him, discerned at once that this anomaly didn’t fit the pattern of other concepts available during that era. Charles Darwin’s son, we will find, employed this “arresting” phrase to describe his father’s characteristic attribute. Beyond this, we will also find that each scientist was astute, a word meaning that keen intuitive powers were an integral aspect of his sagacity. Each man realized that his new observation was part of a pattern that could satisfy a huge information gap and comprehended how significant this fact was in its new larger relationship. So, he did more than simply “arrest” the exception. He realized that he would need to handcuff it, subject it to rigorous cross-examination, and report details of his investigation in print.
A moment of creative inspiration is rare. It has both a long incubation period and, if it is to prove fruitful, a lengthy subsequent development. We find that the creative experience in science begins with an unconventional person, of abilities both diverse and contrasting, who is well grounded and receptive in his professional field. He not only prefers but needs novelty, for he is bored if not disenchanted by a physiological status quo. He has grown up to be a questioning, “adverbial man” whose curiosity is piqued to solve problems for more reasons than he is aware of. His search incorporates some elements of the primitive chase, brings all his senses to a peak, and sweeps him up in a tangle of stimulating ideas. He employs logic as far as it alone can go. Soon, however, his progress is blocked, and he may appear to have abandoned a fruitless struggle. But preconsciously, his mind probes and scans for clues throughout all his sources of information and experience, rapidly discerning those that will fit, neatly discarding the others. He keeps on going. Often, through an accident that has a distinctive personal flavor, he will finally stumble on a fresh clue. At a conscious level, the clue might appear irrelevant, but it immediately opens up wide avenues of useful information. He suddenly finds himself in a state of enhanced awareness. His thoughts steer themselves at lightning speed to a new conscious insight. The new solution is vivid and intensely satisfying both intellectually and emotionally. His visual recollection of the moment is usually indelible. The “moment” may be a major flash of insight, or it may be an attenuated “spark,” or a related series of faint glimmers spread out over months or years.
The creative individual is a person who regularly solves problems, fashions products, or defines new questions in a domain in a way that is initially considered novel but that ultimately becomes accepted in a particular cultural setting. Howard Gardner
Some would restrict creativity solely to the flash of creative inspiration. I can’t agree. I would emphasize that these brief moments are rare, that they have a long prelude, and that they must be followed up if they are to be productive. Still, whenever you have an intense episode of illumination, you know that it is a profound and very special experience.
A sensitive perception of details in the world of nature and the world of man; an awareness of and concern about unsolved problems-the attitude of inquiry; fluency of thought. Ideas come readily; later they are evaluated for quality and logic;” concentration-ability to enter wholeheartedly and personally into an experience; integration-ability to find unity in the diversity of nature, to discover unexpected likenesses, and to relate or connect things not previously related or connected; flexibility and spontaneity guided by a goal or purpose; originality and individuality. The creative person has the courage and inner directedness to resist conformity. Not content with what is now accepted, he looks forward to what may be accepted; ability to analyze and abstractor ability to synthesize; ability to go beyond the facts and discern new implications, to imagine more than evidence obviously shows, to speculate on relations that may not at present be verifiable;* keen satisfaction in creative activities; vivid imagery; Superior abstract and verbal intelligence.
The visual element of creativity is not a single skill, but one separable even in children into at least three components: a preference for complexity, a skill at handling complexity, and an ability to complete what is unfinished. Beyond these gifts the adult researcher needs a special permissive attitude, one that enables him to “see” deeply into a problem, then to find relationships between many seemingly unrelated items, and finally to forge links that connect them. He is not only adept at recognizing a cluster of facts, but he is utterly transfixed when he notes an exception to the rule. Incongruity in a situation snaps him instantly to attention. Charles Darwin’s son described this quality in his father as follows: “There was one quality of mind which seemed to be of special and extreme advantage in leading him to make discoveries. It was the power of never letting exceptions pass unnoticed. Everybody notices a fact as an exception when it is striking or frequent, but he had a special instinct for arresting an exception.””
If I were to limit myself to the five most important traits, I would quickly select: curiosity, imagination, enthusiasm, discrimination, and persistence. But this would be like trying to define the complex operations of a whole human being in terms of his five most vital organs: nervous system, heart, lungs, adrenals, liver. They are essential, but they, too, are only part of the total picture.
An interesting kind of fluid intellectual instability has been noted by Barron, who finds that the effectively original person is one who can regress very “far out” for the moment, yet still be able quickly to return to a high degree of rationality.’ As he does so, he can take back with him the fruits of his earlier regression to fantastic modes of thought. If the person is basically confident of his own ability to discern reality accurately, then he can afford to give free rein to his powers of imagination.
Good role models are absolutely essential. Because we are motivated in many ways to live up to our models, no one is ever a “self-made” man. Examples of how to do something and-fully as important-how not to do something, exert their pervasive influence during one’s formative years.
As we ascend the phylogenetic scale, the amount and complexity of the cerebral cortex increases enormously. In man, a whole new realm, the intellect, has been added. And in man we can observe that the search for stimuli takes on a new dimension-that of a quest. The quest is both psychologically utilitarian and intellectually satisfying. Man’s search to satisfy the physiological needs of his cerebral cortex now takes on a greater meaning, not only to himself but to society as well.
The approach you take when you raise a good bird dog for the field is similar to that involved in trying to raise a creative child or researcher. You start to refine the chase into the quest even before the litter is conceived. First you search for the very best mental and physical pedigree you can find, balancing the sire’s known assets and liabilities against those of the dam. This gives you the optimum opportunity to have the best “hard wiring” already built into your pup’s nervous system at birth. Then you select the boldest, healthiest-looking pup as best you can tell from the way he stands, runs, cocks his ears, and socializes with you. Finally, you give him as much affection as you can without spoiling him. He’ll not only thrive on this, but you later won’t have to discipline him as much, for a word or a gesture will suffice instead of firmer measures. You’ll give him as much wide-open country to explore as freely as possible, graduating to tougher cover only when he’s tall enough for it, always trying to achieve that happy balance between preserving his intense feral qualities and keeping him out from under your feet. You’ll show your enthusiasm with praise when he goes staunchly on point on a pheasant, and your disapproval when he chases a rabbit. If you and hare especially lucky, you’ll have an older, wiser dog he can imitate, from whose experience he can quickly learn the wisdom of the chase that takes years to accumulate. Gradually, he’ll learn that fun and serious work are not incompatible. Ultimately, then, what you will have tried to do is to supplement his basic genetic constitution with the best “soft wiring” you can help him add from his environment-this will include behavior that he’s learned for himself, from you, and from another dog. Your goal is a strong, bold, wide-ranging dog, capable of practical, instinctive action in the field and still house-broken at home, a joy to watch in the field as well as to live with. If you should ever err, your bias should be in the direction of his independence in the field.
As Plato said, “What is honored in a country will be cultivated there.” Even programmed instruction can enhance creativity in children, but it must be properly prepared so that it reinforces many different responses.
These researchers were more effective when there was a “creative tension” between sources of stability and disruption, between security and challenge.
Big problems must first be defined in the mind, however vaguely, before they can be effectively approached in the laboratory.
One cannot rely on the processes of conscious or subconscious memory to pull out the right facts at just the right time. (At least, my brain doesn’t function that way.) Instead, I supplement what is inside my head with a fairly elaborate filing system. The individual topics are listed in large, bold print, color-coded so they can be seen-a file folder full of enzyme reprints here, a folder on a certain disease there, a file of methods farther on. With luck, connections will emerge between one file and the others. Sometimes they do, but rarely.
In my own experience, the most productive free association occurs in the early morning reverie just before arising. In this fluid state, halfway between dreaming and waking, reasoned analysis is suspended. Problems, long unsolved, float up toward consciousness, and then seem easily to attach themselves to solutions, or to ideas for solutions.
Sensing which ideas to ignore is probably more important than generating many of them.
Thus, with regard to Francis Crick’s epic DNA research with James Watson, we find Crick remarking: “The major credit I think Jim and I deserve … is for selecting the right problem and sticking to it. It’s true that by blundering about we stumbled on gold, but the fact remains that we were looking for gold.”‘
Moreover, suppose you start with the two abilities-one, the capacity to focus your concentration, the other the capability to browse internally in a more unfocused manner. It is not to your advantage constantly to deploy one at the expense of the other for hours on end. In fact, what you really need is to be able to shift flexibly, and repeatedly, from one mental mode to the other at exactly the right time.
The master word… is directly responsible for all advances in medicine during the past twenty-five centuries… the master word is Work. Sir William Osler
We recall that the sequences usually quoted are, in order: interest, preparation, incubation, illumination, verification, exploitation.
Interest. Only if you are really interested in a topic will you persist in it, see it through to completion. This holds whether the topic is colors, dogs, mathematics, law, or whatever. Therefore, you should seek out those areas that serve a deep, long-standing personal need. You won’t know, in the abstract, which are your areas of special interest; you will first have to try many of them on for size. Those that fit naturally will “turn you on,” and only then will you really know. The interest that strongly motivates you will be the one that enlists all your energies and brings forth skills you would never be aware of otherwise. Your best work will be a projection of self. Trust yourself to know when you’re on the right track. …Soon, you will find that you’re engaged in something of a quest. At all times, seek out lively vital people-good teachers, in particular-for they will both kindle your interests and be inspiring role models in many critical ways. Get involved with them. Ask them questions. Select guides, not drivers, bright persons you can respect, mentors wise enough to help you find your own way, secure enough to keep your own best interests in mind, mature enough to let go at the right time. If need be, adopt some active hobbies that provide contrast. If you are a verbal, precise, systematic type, get into something loose-something visual or musical that you can actively participate in, whether that means finger painting, pottery, or the guitar. Engage all the nerve cells in your whole right hemisphere in active pursuits, not just in passive listening and looking.
Preparation. You must study to become well-grounded in your field, mastering its basic techniques until they are second nature. Then, practice your craft by solving problems of increasing complexity. Before long, you will find yourself out at some frontier of the field.
Incubation. Preparation is followed by more work. When you work on a good new problem, you will become committed to it to the point of an obsession, wrestling with it months or years before you solve it completely. Like a jigsaw puzzle, each big problem consists of a whole series of smaller problems that need to be pieced together…Earlier, you needed time to browse; now, you must create solid undistracted blocks of time to work. These blocks of time tend to be more fruitful in the morning or in the evening…Sooner or later you will run out of ideas. If you then persist with the intensity you should, you will become frustrated by your lack of progress. Relax at this point. Let go. Free the problem to “go underground.” Set it aside to be worked over at all levels of consciousness. Here, again, other diverse interests will provide a refreshing change of pace, give you a breather while you incubate the first problem, afford other problems you can still make progress on in the interim…Define passive activities, such as listening to music, that help you relax, unfocus your thinking, and loosen up your free associations.
Illumination. Solutions do leap forth by themselves, but a clear, relaxed, well-slept mind generates more innovative ideas. Get enough sleep. Stay alert for the intuitions that flicker in from the margins of consciousness, especially during the phase of reverie after awakening. Major insights can be unforgettable, but they are rare. Most other flashes of insight are of lesser intensity, and they can vanish quickly unless you immediately write them down.
Verification. If a solution has arisen, it is still only one possible solution. If a hypothesis springs forth, it remains to be tested. Again, hard mental and physical work enters in. You will save much time at this point by shifting into hypercritical gear, deferring all leads save those most pregnant with new possibilities. Ask the “so what” question.
Exploitation. Keep the emphasis on ideas, theories, and hypotheses that can lead to action. If your creative efforts are ever going to cause change, you can’t stop now. You must follow through on the project, investing more of yourself to make sure that change does, in fact, occur.
the arts and crafts you are interested in involving taking an adult education course, and you haven’t got the time to explore such new ground, take the time.
True creativity is characterized by a succession of acts, each dependent on the one before and suggesting the one after. Edwin Land
Discovery is pluralistic. It springs from a dynamic interplay between one’s own lifestyle and that of other persons, between intuition and reason, between the conventional scientific method and chance in all its forms. The more diversity there is among these elements the more unique is the resulting creative product.
What I got out of it
If there’s anything we can do to bring about more luck into our lives, seems like we should take advantage of that. Blind luck, luck due to motion/velocity, luck due to preparation, luck to individualized actions/hobbies
“If Steal Like an Artist was a book about stealing influence from other people, this book is about how to influence others by letting them steal from you.“
You don’t have to be a genius
The best way to get started on the path to sharing your work is to think about what you want to learn, and make a commitment to learning it in front of others. Find a scenius [an “ecology of talent”], pay attention to what others are sharing, and then start taking note of what they’re not sharing. Be on the lookout for voids that you can fill with your own efforts, no matter how bad they are at first. Don’t worry, for now, about how you’ll make money or a career off it. Forget about being an expert or a professional, and wear your amateurism (your heart, your love) on your sleeve. Share what you love, and the people who love the same thing will find you.
We’re always being told find your voice. When I was younger, I never really knew what this meant. I used to worry a lot about voice, wondering if I had my own. But now I realize that the only way to find your voice is to use it. It’s hardwired, built into you. Talk about the things you love. Your voice will follow
Think process, not product
Take people behind the scenes – show them your process, that life isn’t perfect. Be authentic, real, vulnerable
Share something small every day
Gets people to open up and trust you, becoming part of their every day lives
Open up your cabinet of curiosities
There’s not as big a difference between collecting and creating as you might think. A lot of the writers I know see the act of reading and the act of writing as existing on opposite ends of the spectrum: The reading feeds writing, which feeds the reading. “I’m basically a curator,” says the writer and former bookseller Jonathan Lethem. “Making books has always felt very connected to my bookselling experience, that of wanting to draw people’s attention to things that I liked, to shape things that I liked into new shapes.”
Tell good stories
Teach what you know
Teaching people doesn’t subtract value from what you do, it actually adds to it. When you teach someone how to do your work, you are, in effect, generating more interest in your work. People feel closer to your work because you’re letting them in on what you know.
Don’t turn into human spam
Sharing something small every day does not mean overloading people with your email. The spectrum is: hoarder – contributor – spammer. Aim for contributor
Learn to take a punch
Don’t be discouraged by haters – keep improving your craft and being open and vulnerable
Don’t be afraid to ask a fair price for work you’re proud of and think adds value
Keep at it and give yourself enough shots at bat to keep doing what you love
What I got out of it
A quick, fun read. Teaching what you know has been a driving force behind The Rabbit Hole since day one and the “share something small every day” seems counter to how I work but might be an experiment worth trying…
I got so much out of this book that I made a bit of a more formal write-up.
If you want to learn more about the power of creating, why the structure in your life impacts your behavior more than your willpower, the importance of facing reality without obscuring it, and so much more, this book is for you.