“We think of creative people in a heroic manner, and we celebrate them, but the thing we celebrate is the after-effect,” says the University of California business professor Barry Staw. “In other words, we may love the creative product and the people that made them—iPhone and Steve Jobs—but we can’t really handle the ickiness of the creative process.”
Jessica Olien of Slate Magazine sheds some light on why. “The thing about being a product of evolution is that we guard ourselves with a habit of self-preservation. And in the course of self-preservation, one of the psychological shortcuts we’ve developed is that if something is uncertain then it’s less safe. And if it’s less safe, we don’t want to do it. Now the genuinely new ideas present a problem to our automated habit of self-preservation because they’re categorically uncertain. Yet if they didn’t have any uncertainty, they wouldn’t be new.”
So to act creatively i.e. to work hard to produce new ideas, try to solve “the unsolvable” or to be “the pioneering explorer”, is actually a choice. One must make a conscious commitment to be all that and accept the fact that he/she, or even a company for that matter, may get rejected by others along the way. One has to let go of satisfying people and/or instances, often even oneself. The truly creative ideas take a very long time to be accepted. The better the idea, the longer it might take. Even the work of Nobel Prize winners was commonly rejected by their peers for an extended period of time.
This post was not about a creative dwelling in self-pity nor was it a desperate cry for “all mankind to foster those fragile creative minds with uttermost care”. It was, however, a pep talk for courage, because although the creative process may often feel unnerving, the results, those fresh and unique ideas, are always celebrated. As are their creators.
Hat Tip: Barry Staw, Jessica Olien