Scott Barry Kaufman: The crooked path straight to discovery

How does the human mind transcend its own limits to create something new or useful?

Asking that question, Scott Barry Kaufman of Creativity Post shares his interest and insight into the psychology of creativity, which he believes is characterized by inspiration, passion and intrinsic motivation.

We don't appreciate inspiration as much as we should because it is inspired people who generate ideas, he says. "Inspired" in this case does not necessarily mean someone convulsed by manic fits or over-the-top enthusiasm, but could describe that poet or theoretical physicist laboring over a quirk in their respective languages, hunting for the right phrasing.

The thought reminded me of the power of awe to lend time to our creative efforts.

The inspired mind, he adds, is characterized by a broad focus, or openness, and considers "lots and lots of possibilities," which more or less describes standard procedure at the IdeaFestival. One never knows when insight or the solution to a vexing problem will suddenly materialize, but it's surprising how often I've head people mention how they were listening to something at the festival completely unrelated to their day to day lives when - BAM! - an idea that had eluded a focused search suddenly appears from nowhere. That's the power of possibility.

This quote on the creative mind also stood out.

Doing everything for external reward takes us further and further away from ourselves.

External motivation, which Kaufman distinguishes from an intrinsic motivation fueled by curiosity, hinders the creative life primarily because the questions that flow under those circumstances are often short-circuited by the first or most available path to the reward. The second question is less likely to be asked.

That's too bad because play and experimentation, and the creativity that flows from it, Kaufman concludes, is a core competency - it really is "what is important in this world." We couldn't agree more.

Posted at the Think Jar Collective, give the short video a watch.

And stay curious.