We had an interesting discussion in the office the other day. We were talking about creative people that each of us know, and some of the life-style choices that they make. As is often the case around here, the conversation quickly turned to restaurants and food. It turns out that we all know of people (or families for that matter) that have three or four restaurants that they will always choose if they are looking to dine out. Conversely, we all know people that if given a choice would eat at a different restaurant every time if they could. In our minds, we could all make a clear connection between our perception of a person’s level of creativity and their desire to experience something new.
The question arose, “Do creative people always seek out new experiences, or do people become more creative as they experience new things?”. Seems like the classic “chicken or the egg” question, but is it really? Is this really about the need many people have to be in complete control (or at least to have the illusion of being in complete control) of their lives? Fundamentally speaking, can you be both a control-freak and a highly creative person, or are these in conflict with one another?
I fall into the camp of “these things are opposites”. I can’t possibly get to a new place if I’m only going to consider going down a tried and true path. Creativity demands that I be flexible and allow the outcome to evolve as I learn. I must be open to new stimuli and willing to incorporate it into my life on a continuous basis. While I can (and should) set goals and objectives for myself, these need to be directional in nature and not constraining.
I think everyone knows this at some level, but many are in denial. There are a lot of pseudo-creatives out there that try to do different things to show how open they are to new experiences. But look closely and you’ll see the truth. One of the families that I referred to earlier orders fish and chips when they go out to eat. They will order these from one of three different local restaurants when they dine out. Upon returning from a recent vacation, they were talking about a great new place they ate, how local it felt and how well it represented the area they were visiting. But when asked what they’d ordered… you guessed it; fish and chips!
So in answer to my chicken and egg question… Do creative people seek out new experiences? YES. Are people more creative because they are exposed to new experiences? ALSO YES. The lesson here is that we can all become more creative by the choices we make. While control and routine may provide us with comfort, they may hold us back if we are trying to grow and expand our ways of thinking.