For the last five years I’ve been trying to improve the Creativity of people. I designed intuiti, a deck of cards for Creativity — each card represents an archetype –, and I hoped that with the right incentive people would find better ideas than with a simple brainstorming.
Well, I was wrong. I failed.
I tried with more than 4,000 people and none of them discovered an outstanding idea. They arrived to me unsatisfied for some reasons — their jobs, or the projects they were working on — and they left, still unsatisfied. The tool was not working properly. Looking at the archetypes in the cards people were not finding solutions… they were just realizing that what they were doing was in part, or also completely, wrong. Like a writer that wants to find solutions for a book he doesn’t like, or an employee that wants to shine in a job he doesn’t care.
I tried to design a tool to empower people’s creativity and instead my tool was showing them their lies. So, yes, I failed. But I think I discovered something more important.
We are not aware. Not at all. We often have jobs we don’t like, we work on projects we don’t care, we live in a way that doesn’t satisfy us. And why? Because we don’t actually know what we want and how to get it.
And the consequences are all around us. Depressed freelancers, startuppers who chose the wrong path and are all stressed and near bankruptcy, employees who feel underused. I mean, when we talk with each other sometimes it seems we are all unhappy. And how do we react to this? Digging more. We say those mythical sentences such as: “We have to find a disruptive idea!” or “We need a more innovative concept”. Using this skill that we call Creativity, we try to improve our performances along the wrong path.
But that’s the thing. Our whole concept of Creativity is wrong.
It’s like we stay with a person we don’t love and we try to invent hundreds, thousands of erotic tricks to improve the pleasure. And of course that person will tell us: «Oh, that was fantastic, that was outstanding». But it’s not like a true orgasm. When we really love, our brain switches off, everything goes natural and spontaneous, and we say: «Wow! How did I get here?».
So Creativity is not the ability of finding brilliant ideas and solutions. It’s the consequence of finding what we love.
But how do we get there?
As I said, most of the time we are not aware. We know something is wrong, but we can’t even remember what we really want.
Let me ask you a question: have you ever seen a child who doesn’t know what he wants? Looking at you in front of a piece of paper saying: «Oh, I have a creative block!». No, because it never happens. A child always knows that he wants to go from a point A to a point B and, in doing it, he probably finds tons of creative solutions and he doesn’t even realizes! He doesn’t make any efforts. He actually doesn’t know how he gets to B. That’s the true Creative Flow. That’s the true Creativity.
So what happens when the child grows?
He has to redefine his goals. According to society, school, parents, etc. He suddenly has to focus on what he must and soon he has to go from a point A to a point C. Of course now he is aware, especially of his dissatisfaction! Because he doesn’t want C but he must go there. And obviously he makes an effort to do so.
Soon point C replaces point B, because he actually starts to believe that what he must is what he wants. For instance, he could think he wants to be successful, to be safe, to be a value for the society.
By the time he becomes an adult, he is in a circle of Must.
He is aware that something is wrong. He secretly wants to reach point B — what he really desires, but he can’t even remember what it is! And so he tries to make actions in the circle, to improve his life, his satisfaction, but nothing gets really better. He’s just finding tricks. He’s digging in the wrong path. And his creative effort — if you still want to call it “creative” — is useless.
So how do we break our circle?
There’s only one way: to say the Truth. The Truth about everything: our jobs, our expectations, our desires. I mean, maybe we don’t want to do that job anymore, or not in that city, or not in that firm. Maybe we cannot stand our partner, maybe we just want to be something different and we need to cut loose ends.
But it’s not enough to know: we have to say it loud and then to live it, which means to embrace it and acting accordingly to that. And that’s the most difficult part because we can’t see what’s outside the circle till we get there — it’s like a door still closed. We know outside there’s our goal, but for now we cannot describe it. So it’s terrifying, also because we don’t have a way to justify our choices to others, and not even to ourselves. It’s not like saying: «I’m going to leave my job because I want to open a bike shop and I have a sure plan».
We won’t have certainties. It’s like a leap of fate. We have to believe that, if we open that door, everything will be ok.
Then what does it happen when we open the door, when we break the circle? We finally see and feel what we want. And then the true creative flow is restored. We won’t have to find solutions to make it work: it will work on its own, like a real orgasm.
But what does it mean in practice?
A freelancer would understand that it’s better to drop some projects that he doesn’t like and which, for that reason, always become extremely time-consuming.
An entrepreneur could see that in 2 years he wouldn’t like to work in the company he is starting up because he isn’t really into that field.
A writer could accept he doesn’t want to write the book he’s working on because it’s just made to sell.
The consequences: it saves you time, and it really improve your personal results.
If you stay in the circle, you can still be successful in what you do, of course, but you’ll have to make more efforts and those efforts won’t make you more satisfied. But if you break the circle, you will be actually more creative and you won’t even think about it!
That’s what my tool intùiti really does, and it took me almost 3 years to realise that.
Intùiti helps people to break the circle.
They speak aloud using the archetypes and they finally unveil their lies. I’ve seen an entrepreneur deciding to change the core concept of his project after a session of ten minutes, an employee admitting to have created the same tensions she was complaining about, a team of four finally compiling a common business model. Did it change their lives? I don’t know… I didn’t check.
What I can say is that without intùiti I wouldn’t have changed two cities, dropped jobs I didn’t like and focused on the projects I really care. And when people ask me how did I manage to find the time to run different startups, write three novels and make creative experimentations, I say the truth: that all my most important accomplishments came almost without any effort. I hardly realised them :)