This Secret to Creativity May Surprise You

From time to time I write about creativity, and invariably it creates an energetic discussion. Are we born creative? Is it learned? Is it a gene? Maria Popova of Brain Pickings (one of my favorite sites) recently revealed in an interview what I think is a wonderful definition of creativity—both practical creativity and moral creativity. Take a look and let me know what you think:

The ability to connect the seemingly unconnected and meld existing knowledge into new insight about some element of how the world works. That’s practical creativity. Then there’s moral creativity: to apply that skill toward some kind of wisdom on how the world ought to work.
 —Maria Popova

Essentially for Popova, creativity isn’t just coming up with new insights, it’s also the ability to make connections. And this is something most of us need to hear: You may not be a Michelangelo, Steve Jobs or Ernest Hemingway. You may not have unique insight that no one else has ever considered. But if you have the ability to “connect the dots”—to make unusual associations from existing information that reveals new ideas and insights—then you are absolutely creative.

And when it comes to moral creativity, in her words: “to apply that skill toward some kind of wisdom on how the world ought to work”—well, that might be the best application of creativity, period.

How do you stack up? Do you often make connections that others haven’t considered?  

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Phil Cooke
Phil Cooke is the founder and CEO of Cooke Pictures in Burbank, California (cookepictures.com)where he helps church, ministry, and nonprofit organizations engage the culture more effectively. He's a filmmaker, media consultant, and author of "Unique: Telling Your Story in the Age of Brands and Social Media."