Various psychologists and scientists have tried to study the personality that defines the creative person.
Facing numerous and contradictory traits, they found that the talented artist, the genius scientist, or the deep thinker cannot be reduced to a single psychological type.
According to Mihály Csíkszentmihályi in Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery, creatives embody personalities fluctuating between various and contradictory tendencies, crossing all the spectrum of human emotions.
Their creativity comes from an ability to bring this complexity together in a shifting, adaptive, and unique personality.
It comes from personal aspects such as a self-confident modesty, a playful focus on their work, transgressive respect for tradition, and a rigorous passion for their efforts.
Here is how examples of creatives from Csíkszentmihályi’s book talk about these 4 traits and how you can find inspiration from them.
Showing Self-Confidence and Modesty
When creative people talk about their field of expertise, they show a precise and firm vision of its history and future.
Yet, when they present their work, they are also often modest and minimize the importance of their discovery compared to the long line of their successors.
Creative personalities are lucid enough about their success that they can move from absolute certainty to uncertainty about their future accomplishments.
They can put their judgment, taste, and competitive spirit into perspective on a field larger than themselves, being both highly ambitious and selfless.
This can be read in their words:
“When people ask me if I’m proud of something, I just shrug and hope to get away as soon as possible. I should explain that my way is always to look ahead, all my pleasant thoughts are about the future” Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann, famous social scientist.
Michael Snow, a great experimental filmmaker, attributes his incessant experimentation to a sense of insecurity and doubt that he tries to illuminate.
To reach a state of creativity, you have to take hold of your field, to the point of knowing the value of its great figures and your chances of differentiating yourself from them.
Being Focused and Playful
When creative people are immersed in their work, they are in a state of optimal concentration where nothing can disturb them and where they are obsessed with their work.
But at the same time, they feel great pleasure in not taking their work seriously, playing, and experimenting constantly with their achievements.
Their creativity requires both a strong discipline when working in their ideas and an ability to twist these ideas freely when reflecting. They use their capacity for hard work in the service of a volatile, distracted, and fanciful imagination.
Cutting out their work in a two-part process -ideation and hard work- is how these artists or thinkers resolve this contradiction.
Nina Holton says: “Tell anybody you’re a sculptor and they’ll say, Oh how exciting, how wonderful” And I tend to say, “What’s so wonderful?” I mean, it’s like being a mason, or being a carpenter, half the time.” Sculpture is the combination of wonderful wild ideas and then a lot of hard work.
Jacob Rabinow claims that he is in prison, to free his imagination from the constraint of time but also to focus only on the progress of his work.
Growing your creativity thus means increasing your ability to move from a state of distraction and mental association to a state of concentration and intense work.
Seeking to Break and Save Tradition
Artists are known for their tendency to constantly question the achievements and forms of the past to create new ones.
Yet, they also display deep respect and admiration for their inspirer and master and do not hesitate to assimilate and claim their image and heritage.
Their creativity stems both from a spirit of independence from the influences of the past and a desire to return to the level of past achievements.
Artists seek to recapture the best of the past by seeking to surpass it in something new. They seek to take risks and bring something new without necessarily wanting to make a difference at all costs.
They value transgression and daring as much as they reject the will to distinguish themselves at all costs.
According to artist Eva Zeisel, “Wanting to be different can’t be the motive of your work. To be different is a negative motive, and no creative thought or created thing grows out of a negative impulse. No negative impulse can work, can produce any happy creation”.
While according to the economist George Stigler: “I’d say one of the common failures of able poeple is a lack of nerve. They’ll play safe games. They’ll take whatever the literature’s doing and add a little bit of it.”
To follow the path of creativity, find a dynamic between the boldness and independence of the creator and the conservatism and modesty of a true art lover.
Expressing Affection and Objectivity for Their Work
One of the other elements differentiating creative persons is an energy that drives them in their work.
This energy is both deep love and attachment for their achievements and a rational and strong detachment from them.
Creativity comes as much from a passionate enthusiasm for their work process as it does from rationality and systematic judgment in the evaluation of their work.
The creative person is both exceptionally tender for the fruits of his efforts and particularly cruel when it comes to recreating them and deciding what needs to be changed, modified, or corrected.
This alternation between fertile emotional production and cold cutting and analysis is what gives the artist or thinker sufficient flexibility to create and recreate his work.
According to historian Natalie Davis, “I love what I am doing and I love to write. I just have a great deal of affect invested… [Yet] I think it is very important to find a way to be detached from what you write, so that you can’t be so identified with your work that you can’t accept criticism and response. “
Finding the ability to switch between passionate work and a cold reason that judges his work. You will then get closer to the creative drive.
It’s your turn to be inspired by these traits to aspire to a creative personality!