Why looking for supermen and women is dangerous

While attending at the Creativity World Forum I’m both happy and sad at the same time. I’m happy because I see and hear a lot of great people telling great stories about how creativity works and how you can see creativity at work.

I’m sad because I still get the impression that our politicians and policymakers are fooling themselves and us in believing that the creative’s skill is limited to the inventor’s skill.

For them creativity is about supermen and superwomen.

You don’t need to recognize a superman or superwoman when you see one.

It’s not just about finding the best player on the market. It’s not just about looking for the golden egg.

It’s about listening to what life tells you. If life shows you something superbly human, something new about life, that’s what you have to recognize. That’s what we all have to realize.

That’s what our creative responsibility is all about.

I’m happy because I’ve heard Tom Kelley of IDEO deliver a beautiful talk about just that.

The power of Kelley’s narrative is that he has noted and staged 10 creative roles. One of them is the Anthropologist. Her job is to look at life and to notice stuff we’ve never noticed before.

Kelley actually quoted Proust to explain why these Anthropologists are so important. “Discovery is not about finding new land, it’s about seeing things with new eyes.”

Let’s rephrase that: it’s about having new eyes look at things that look familiar to you. These eyes can be yours. It can be a mindset as well.

While I say everyone has a role to play in the creative exploration of this world, Tom actually manages to give you a clue on how to make that happen.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you only have to play one role in life. You already play dozens of roles today. You’re a lover, you’re a friend, you’re a son or a daughter, you’re a colleague, an asian 34 year old woman, …

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