By Lucy Pennock
LET’S TALK ABOUT JORDAN B. PETERSON
Ahhh back in my fave café. My favourite writing and reading place. So I watched a talk by Professor Jordan Peterson last night on the psychology of creativity which you can watch here. And it was really quite interesting! Made me think a lot – which is kind of a good thing I guess.
OK, so the Canadian psychologist and controversial public figure has some extremely un-PC views about women and politics which I don’t agree with – but this talk on creativity felt like a pretty neutral topic, so I tuned in. And to be fair he made some sense.
He began by talking about the 3 traits of a so called ‘creative’ person.
-extroversion – an outgoing, gregarious person who obtains gratification outside the self
-neuroticism – a heightened sensitivity to negativity; often obsessive
-openness – an innate willingness to learn, explore new ideas, experience new things
In summary he basically said creative people tend to have “an agreeable temperament, a high working memory capacity, an enthusiastic but almost manic drive to work, and a little bit of craziness (or a lot).”
Just to point out he said that extroversion wasn’t a prerequisite for creativity. Introverted people are also creative. Well…duh, Jordan. That’s pretty obvious. Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak?
Anyway he also went on to say that neuroticism was on a scale and by far the worst and most unhelpful trait to creative production. Apparently a creative person’s worst enemy is their rational mind because it hyper-criticises everything. Erm…think we can all relate to that one!!
HOWEVER what he did go on to say (which I found quite interesting) was that in order to be creative you need to be slightly neurotic because creativity is a very risky business. Pursuing it is foolish. The odds are rarely ever in your favour. It’s extremely hard to succeed if you want to change the world and create impact. You have to go against the grain, change people’s perceptions and ways of thinking and that ultimately takes a lot of guts, and oh tiiiiiime.
You have to be a little bit mad in order to take that gamble. Really there’s no certainty you’ll succeed. And I totally understand and agree with that. Hence, why I don’t want to be an actual artist or writer and am very happy going into advertising. Commercial creativity all the way – woop woop! Free perks and *fingers crossed* a stable pay check at the end of each month. Kerching!
He also said openness was the most important and essential character trait of creative people. Yay something positive! Sure we can all agree on that one too.
Creative types need to be open to new things, new experiences in order to cultivate ideas. Creativity is exploration not decoration. It’s not just about aesthetics. Art isn’t always beauty. Creativity is transforming chaos into order so that people can understand. It’s problem solving! Which I thought was bang on. While science helps us understand the world, artistic pursuits create a world we can understand. Isn’t that lovely?
He said that any sort of person who is creative whether they’re an entrepreneur, artist, scientist, inventor, or whatever – bares the same representation to society as dreams bare to reality. We don’t fully understand the mechanics of dreaming, but it exists. It’s another way of deciphering the world around us. Understanding stuff. Which is quite a nice description I think.
So here’s to day dreaming and being a bit “foolish”! May the odds be ever in our favour.
Anyway, it’s over and out from me. I’m rambling, this has been a long one and I’m probably coming off slightly pretentious.