We love to process the world through story. It underpins much of what we know of ourselves and our history.
Take the idea of the stand alone genius for example. The celebrated individuals throughout the years that have transformed the way we think of the world.
The artists, the scientists, and the leaders.
But this image we have of the genius is not the whole picture. There is so much more going on. A bigger story that we all play a part in.
Scenius not Genius
Brian Eno introduced the word ‘scenius’ to my vocabulary a while back. It beautifully articulates the true nature of creativity and human innovation. The great work through history does not happen in isolated vacuums, apart from the context of the world.
It happens within these clustered moments, these scenes, the wider ecology of ideas. And this stretches beyond those who create the work.
In the context of art which is what Eno is discussing it encompasses the collectors, the patrons, the thinkers, theorists, those who are on the cutting edge of fashion. Genius work does not stand alone, it is planted in the fertile ground that surrounds it.
In this episode of the podcast I reflect on a few truths that show that we all play a part in the belly of creativity. Creativity is pulsing at the heart of what it means to be human, and we are not isolated individuals trying to find our own unique voice in a vacuum.
I want to encourage those who DON’T feel like they have anything unique or special to offer the world that they do. We are a part of something much bigger, the ecology of creativity and progress. The product of human ingenuity and imagination, of which we all share.
1. We are Standing on the Shoulders of Giants
Human progress and understanding is not to do with how our intelligence has increased. Rather it is the result of an ever growing giant upon the shoulders of which we continue to stand.
We build on the past, and we see further than ever before, because of the work of those before us.
2. Language is the Water of Progress
The key to life is water, and in many ways language is the water of human progress. Where there is language and the ability to communicate ideas efficiently, there will be change, development, and progress.
3. We Have Empathy and Choice
Because of our brains and the way they have evolved, we have an enormous capacity for profound thoughts. We can think about things that don’t yet exist and bring them into being.
We can throw the way we perceive the world into the eyes of others and make decisions accordingly. And I can even counteract my best interests in order to help someone else or another group of people.
4. We All Steal Like Artists
Creativity is ALWAYS a collaboration – minds connecting to minds. Good work isn’t created in a vacuum, creativity is always in some sense a collaboration, the result of minds connecting to minds. Austin Kleon writes about this in his fantastic book, Steal Like an Artist.
5. Anyone can be Creative Because Everyone can Read, Observe, Learn, and Respond
If you can plan what your week is going to look like because you can imagine something that hasn’t yet happened, then you are creative. You can adapt this week by reflecting on last week and make changes to anything that caused unnecessary stress.
What about you?
I bet you could sit down right now and move your perspective to 7 days from now. Go back over the past week and write about what has happened. You have sufficient imagination to create this story, and you could even include some unexpected surprises, and encounters with people you’ve never met.
Creativity is NOT the writing.
Writing is a craft, a vessel to carry the creativity and it can be learned by studying. The creativity is what you bring TO THE craft – your ability to see or imagine something in your mind and turn it into something tangible, i.e. words, conversation, drawing, music, food, a photo, a solution etc.