Ten Paradoxical Traits of the Creative Mind

[responsive]mind[/responsive]Creativity: In any career, it can mean the difference between adequate and stellar. On a team, it often is the spark for truly game changing paradigm shifts. Yet what is that ineffable quality, and how do you know it when you see it?

“Creativity is the common theme that drives both entrepreneurs and artists alike. But creative people are often also paradoxical,” writes Faisal Hoque in Fast Company’s Leadership Now blog.

In his ground-breaking work Creativity: The Work and Lives of 91 Eminent People (HarperCollins, 1996), Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi   “describes ten traits often contradictory in nature, that are frequently present in creative people,” writes Hoque.

In other words, creative people generally exhibit these paradoxical–indeed almost conflicting–behaviors and Csikszentmihalyi believes that this complexity is the hallmark of the creative mind.

For example, Hoque summarizes from the book, “Creative people have a great deal of physical energy, but they’re also often quiet and at rest. They work long hours, with great concentration, while projecting an aura of freshness and enthusiasm.”

They also tend to be smart yet naïve, playful yet disciplined, and demonstrate a mix of both responsibility and irresponsibility. And while they are rooted in reality, they can often be found steeped in imagination.

The dichotomy is fascinating to realize, and as you understand these tendencies you begin to see these traits in the creative people in your own life, maybe even in yourself.  And it explains some of the career choices that truly creative people make.

“Perhaps the most important quality, the one that is most consistently present in all creative individuals, is the ability to enjoy the process of creation for its own sake,” Csikszentmihalyi writes. “Without this trait, poets would give up striving for perfection and would write commercial jingles, economists would work for banks where they would earn at least twice as much as they do at universities, and physicists would stop doing basic research and join industrial laboratories where the conditions are better and the expectations more predictable.”

If you “suffer” for the paradox of creativity, embrace the chaos and revel in the fact that this is who you are.