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Hello again. I’m off on a new tangent this week, it’s been inspired by Yaro’s last post. Actually, I’ve had this niggling feeling I needed to take his advice since receiving the email in my inbox several weeks ago with tips on writing great articles – I just have so much spinning in my head that it often takes a while to action everything that’s fighting for my attention.
Yaro’s great idea is to make top 10 lists of things related to my topic. He suggested a top 10 list of my favorite books on creativity. Whilst that’s a brilliant idea, there’s one small problem… for some terrible reason, most likely due to my own scattered brain, I’ve stopped reading books to completion. I get part way through them and charge off on other tangents. This is a considerable problem when it comes to making top 10 lists of my favorite books on creativity.
So I did what all good creatives do when faced with an impasse and I improvised. Whilst I spend the next few weeks finishing reading all the books on my top 10 list, I decided to make a top 10 list of something else. The “something else” is largely responsible for why I don’t finish books anymore!
I have an ongoing love affair with TED. At the end of the day, when I’m sick of dealing with black text on a white computer screen, I crawl into bed with TED and let the world’s most inspiring, informative, ingenious and innovative people take me on adventures into their worlds.
I don’t watch TV these days. I watch TED. Somehow, because I’m learning new things and being inspired by what I see, I can sneak past that feeling of guilt I get from watching mind numbing entertainment because it’s not productive. So my first ever “top 10 list” is my top 10 TED talks on creativity.
This is how it’s going to look. I’m going to show in order of 1 to 10, the talks I have found to be most inspiring and also practically useful in regards to creativity. I want to explain to you how each clip made the cut and why it’s ranked as it is. So each week, I’ll cover two or three clips, and try to explain why they’re important and a give summary of the magnificence within them.
Some of the talks are directly related to creativity. Others are great examples of someone being creative. And others are expressions of crucial elements of creativity, like Isabel Allende’s talk on passion.
There’s one talk in here that isn’t so much about creativity. But I realized it’s possibly the most useful way to overcome one of the biggest stumbling blocks to realizing your potential, and take the risks needed to explore and express your creativity. Even though it’s not necessarily pitched as being about creativity, it could be the most important clip of them all if it moves you to action.
Sir Ken Robinson: Sir Ken tops my TOP 10 in both books and TED talks on creativity. Basically, I’m a raving Sir Ken fan, and not without good reason. Sir Ken is mobilizing people all over the world to revolutionize the education system. He’s a world authority on creativity and education. In this talk, he explains clearly and with a brilliant dose of humor exactly how the education system is the first thing to wipe our abundant creativity. This talk sets a great foundation for the ones that follow in the list.
Sir Ken’s second talk was recorded on TED four years after his initial one. His first talk was downloaded over 4 million times, and this one rivals it for being just as insightful, informative and funny. He builds upon the information he shared in his former TED talk, and tells some extraordinary stories to illustrate his point. Watching this talk for the fire-fighter story alone would be a worthwhile experience. If you want to know just how valid and valuable it is follow your gut instinct and do what you love, watch this!
Tim Brown: Tim’s talk makes it into 3rd place for a couple of reasons.
I love to draw attention to the connection between play and creativity and have spent many posts on this blog doing so, as well as writing a book about it. Tim’s talk is all about the connection between play and creativity. His talk is insightful and informative and he shares some great distinctions about creativity and how it works that I’ve never heard anyone else mention. An added bonus is that he gives the audience some cool creativity exercises to do as well. This video totally rocks and totally deserves a top ranking.
Isabel Allende: Now this is one amazing and passionate woman! She gets to rank 4th because her talk epitomizes two of the most important aspects of creative expression: courage and passion.
I don’t often like to speak about passion because it’s often an over-used term without the real energy behind it. I think people like to give lip service to passion, but you don’t actually see many people living it. Isabel lives it, she breathes it and she expresses it powerfully. To be creative takes guts, a lot of it. You’re baring your soul to the world again and again and you have to handle the world rejecting you again and again. Nothing makes you feel more vulnerable. Without courage and passion to fuel your stubborn insistence to accept nothing less than living life to its full potential, don’t expect to get a grip on creativity.
Ross Lovegrove: If I didn’t have such a big crush on Sir Ken’s creative expression, I’d have a big crush on Ross’s. Partially just for having a name like Lovegrove, what a cool name! Those elements I mentioned about Isabel’s talk, on courage and passion, Ross is also a brilliant example of someone who embodies these attributes as well.
Just listening to him and watching him will give you a great idea of what creativity is about and what’s needed to master it. Ross lives right on the edge of innovation and design for the future, listening to someone like this is inspiring and I feel safer knowing there are people like this in the world helping design for our future. The difficulty for someone like Ross is waiting for the rest of the world to catch up with him… When you get to the part where he says, “What a waste! F__ ‘em,” you’ll know what I mean.
Tim Harford: Tim comes in at 6th place, not because he’s speaking specifically about creativity, but because what he speaks about is also one of the most crucial elements to creative expression: trial and error. Nobody has ever mastered any creative feat without a lot of it. There are no brilliant people on this planet who haven’t spent years dedicated to fine tuning their skills. Trying to avoid this and still be successful is like trying to avoid exercise and expecting to have a strong, fit, healthy body.
I also love Tim’s explanation of the God Complex. This is something we’re all very guilty of at least some of the time, and I can see how it really makes life difficult for everybody. Definitely worth listening to.
Matt Cutts: I mentioned in the article one speaker who had a message so powerful, it might even be the most important one of all if it moves you to take action. This is Matt’s message.
One of the biggest blocks to creativity and anything else in life is our procrastination and excuses. If we just stopped this and took action on the things we say we’d like to do, our lives would transform dramatically. Matt is a shining example of someone who has been living this way, and he gives you a brilliant tool to turn your excuses into action.
By taking on 30 day challenges, he’s transformed his life from someone who talked about doing things to someone who makes it happen. After watching this talk, I implemented a 30 day challenge immediately, and I can see how my life could transform dramatically if I just keep on challenging myself 30 days at a time.
Joshua Walters: This guy is amazing, he shares some of the most entertaining and difficult aspects of creativity in a very humorous and empathetic manner. Having always been highly sensitive and creative, and had tendencies to those hypomanic states he refers to, I know how important it is to manage this and balance myself out to avoid some kind of blowout. Listening to Joshua’s portrayal of understanding and managing his creativity and accepting who he is along the way is well worth your time, and it’s only going to take six minutes of your time, so there’s no excuse to miss it!
Larry Lessig: Larry’s talk is cool because it gives you some insight into how creativity is evolving and flourishing with the Internet and new communication technologies. In this talk, you learn some useful things about how creativity thrives in an open source environment that embraces a user-friendly culture. This is a very thought provoking talk on some of the aspects of creativity as it works in today’s world that get missed by a lot of the others.
Elizabeth Gilbert: Elizabeth is well deserving of a spot in this list, and she could have easily been further up, but her talk seems like the most fitting to complete your foray into creativity.
In her talk, Elizabeth discusses an angle on creative expression that no one else has touched on. It relates to the aftermath of experiencing success and it requires some serious self-management to get a handle on. This is something you’ve probably noticed before in life, when you think about one hit wonders and what happened to them after that.
Elizabeth’s talk gives some great insights and ideas into how to handle creative success and the subsequent pressure to keep producing at that level. This is well worth watching, so once you have cracked it and have experienced creative success, you can keep it up without bombing from the pressure.
As you can see, I’ve got a bit of a thing for Sir Ken, I have an ongoing love affair with his work to rival the one I have for TED talks. Sir Ken even tops my TOP 10 book list and hogs the first few places : /
I think this is for a number of reasons.
Ken’s talks are educational, insightful, beautifully articulated and they make me laugh. This combination is a bit like holding the ace of spades as far as I’m concerned, especially that last element.
Another reason they top the list is because Sir Ken’s talks set a great foundation for the rest. Sir Ken deals with the starting point of the problem of dislocated creativity, our schooling. We waste a good twelve years of our lives learning how to do things that don’t energize and inspire us… learning how to stuff our dreams away and stamp out our creativity so we can endure those years of schooling.
Really, it’s just like twelve years in training for what to expect for the rest of our lives… Unless we’re blessed to have held onto enough hope and determination to do what we love anyway… or unless by some stroke of luck, the schooling system actually did steer us in the direction of living the life that speaks to our deepest truth. Sadly, Sir Ken says during his second talk, of the many people he meets, very few have been able to find this place within themselves to live from.
If you have the time and inclination to watch these first two talks in my top 10, I assure you it will be a great foundation for us to launch into the ones that follow in the list next week. Once again, I’d love to hear any comments you have at the end, and I’m going to leave you with a fabulous Sir Ken quote about creativity.
“If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.”