Listening to the Genius Outside You: You Never Had It in You, All Along!
Three Roman geniuses
*Knocks on your office door*
Hello, friend. Do you have 5 minutes to hear about a truth that could change your career forever? I’ll just let myself in, and you can answer me once I’ve sat down in your chair.
…I know. I was speechless, too.
What if I told you there was a highly intelligent, creative, invisible creature who lived in your office wall?
He has big ideas for your company, campaign, or hobby project, and he has been sitting there, bored out of his li’l invisible mind, waiting for you to ask for help.
All you have to do is summon him, and he’ll crawl out through the air vent, scamper into your ear, and plop down on your brain whence he will begin pushing all the buttons and pulling all the strings you will ever need to be creative and successful. Say goodbye to mental blocks forever.
Isn’t that fantastic?!
You’re not answering me, you’re just stuttering. I’ll repeat the question – ISN’T THAT FANTASTIC?
If you’re like me, you couldn’t help but feel that this idea is actually…a little bit appealing (once you get past the ear scampering and the utter irrationality of the whole thing…just indulge me for a second).
As Elizabeth Gilbert points out in this TED talk, this is exactly how the Greeks and Romans viewed the creative process.
Creativity was not a “characteristic” that some people embodied. Creativity was actually a being, a little creature called a daemon by the Greeks or a genius by the Romans, who came out of hiding to channel its message through the writer, artist, or – I’m going to extrapolate – businessperson.
In accepting this psychological construct, the human half of the creative process faced a trade-off: she was not allowed the narcissism of feeling she’d created something spectacular when the work was good, but she also did not have to feel like she’d failed as a person when the work was bad.
Her sense of self-worth could not be tied up in any project, because she was merely a vessel.
What changes would you make if you were free of the self-doubt that comes with failure?
But I think it’s also a thought we can explore from a business perspective. After all, critical thinking and creativity go hand in hand.
So what ideas would you have if you weren’t concerned about their reflection on you as a person? What changes would you make if you were free of the self-doubt that comes with failure? Would it mean a slippery slope toward irresponsibility, or the push you’ve needed toward innovation and fulfillment?