How Creative People Live and Work

Faisal Hoque is an entrepreneur, author of several books, contributor at FastCompany and HuffingtonPost, born in Bangladesh, grown up in the US, has founded MiND2MiND Exchange, B2B ForeSight, BTM Corporation and research think-tank BTM Institute. I think his post on FastCompany is a masterpiece: the 10 paradoxical traits of creative people. He found that Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi professor of psychology and management, spent 30 years to study how creative people live and work and wrote a book about it: “Creativity: The Work and Lives of 91 Eminent People”. He wrote:

If I had to express in one word what makes their personalities different from others, it’s complexity. They show tendencies of thought and action that in most people are segregated. They contain contradictory extremes; instead of being an individual, each of them is a multitude.
Creative individuals are remarkable for their ability to adapt to almost any situation and to make do with whatever is at hand to reach their goals.

Nowadays more and more entrepreneurs are artists and artists of all kinds are entrepreneurs: the trend is increasingly converging. Creativity is the common theme that drives both entrepreneurs and artists alike. These are the main outlines of Professor Csikszentmihalyi as Faisal Hoque reports in the article:

1. Creative people have a great deal of energy, but they are also often quiet and at rest. They work long hours, with great concentration, while projecting an aura of freshness and enthusiasm.

2. Creative people tend to be smart yet naive at the same time. “It involves fluency, or the ability to generate a great quantity of ideas; flexibility, or the ability to switch from one perspective to another; and originality in picking unusual associations of ideas. These are the dimensions of thinking that most creativity tests measure and that most workshops try to enhance.”

3. Creative people combine playfulness and discipline, responsibility and irresponsibility. But this playfulness doesn’t go very far without its antithesis, a quality of doggedness, endurance, and perseverance.

4. Creative people alternate between imagination and fantasy and a rooted sense of reality. Great art and great science involve a leap of imagination into a world that is different from the present.

5. Creative people tend to be both extroverted and introverted. We’re usually one or the other, either preferring to be in the thick of crowds or sitting on the sidelines and observing the passing show. Creative individuals, on the other hand, seem to exhibit both traits simultaneously.

6. Creative people are humble and proud at the same time. It is remarkable to meet a famous person who you expect to be arrogant or supercilious, only to encounter self-deprecation and shyness instead.

7. Creative people, to some extent, escape rigid role stereotyping. When tests of masculinity and femininity are given to young people, over and over one finds that creative and talented girls are more dominant and tough than other girls, and creative boys are more sensitive and less aggressive than their male peers.

8. Creative people are both rebellious and conservative. It is impossible to be creative without having first internalized an area of culture. So it’s difficult to see how a person can be creative without being both traditional and conservative and at the same time rebellious and iconoclastic.

9. Most creative people are very passionate about their work, yet they can be extrmely objective about it as well. Without the passion, we soon lose interest in a difficult task. Yet without being objective about it, our work is not very good and lacks credibility.

10. Creative people’s opennes and sensitivity often exposes them to suffering and pain, yet also to a great deal of enjoyment. “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. 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.”

I wouldn’t have never been able to paint a better picture of myself: thank you so much to Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and to Faisal Hoque.

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