CreativityEngaging Culture

Creativity Is About Connections

From time to time I write about creativity, and invariably it creates an energetic discussion. Are we born creative? Is it learned? Is it a gene? Maria Popova of Brain Pickings (one of my favorite sites) recently revealed in an interview what I think is a wonderful definition of creativity – both practical creativity and moral creativity. Take a look and let me know what you think:

The ability to connect the seemingly unconnected and meld existing knowledge into new insight about some element of how the world works. That’s practical creativity. Then there’s moral creativity: To apply that skill towards some kind of wisdom on how the world ought to work.
– Maria Popova

Essentially for Popova, creativity isn’t just coming up with new insights, it’s also the ability to make connections.  And this is something most of us need to hear:  You may not be a Michelangelo, Steve Jobs, or Ernest Hemingway. You may not have unique insight that no one else has ever considered. But if you have the ability to “connect the dots” – to make unusual associations from existing information that reveals new ideas and insights – then you are absolutely creative.

And when it comes to moral creativity, in her words: “To apply that skill towards some kind of wisdom on how the world ought to work” – well, that might be the best application of creativity, period.

How do you stack up?  Do you often make connections that others haven’t considered?


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  1. Not to disrespect your very important point but for fun cuz this just popped into my head as I was reading your blog and in a strange way it illustrates your point…I think.

    Anyway, as we say in New York, “Not noth’en for noth’en or noth’en, but…”“…if you have the ability…to make unusual associations from existing information that reveals new ideas and insights.” Are you then …a comedy writer? (Drumroll, cymbal) Making weird connections can be profitable if you are a comedy writer…but that isn’t Phil’s point …is it?

    To get back on track:

    Do I make connections? Yes, I do…I was taught how to connect by my grandfather back when I was very young. That ability has helped me to accomplish some wonderful things that have helped a lot of organizations and people .

    This was one of my greatest frustrations at the job I retired from. They (management) would continually cut me off from making connections. It’s very frustrating when you have momentum and you get your legs taken out from under you, because someone in authority can’t see your vision as it is developing. Now that I retired from that job I’m footloose and ready to connect with anyone; that can use me, can help me to continue to learn or that I can help.

    Making connections is not a mindless, “everyone I meet I give them my card,” thing. Making connections for me falls into the hunter gatherer instinct, led, these days, by the Holy Spirit. Well, that is my intent anyway.

    Got to go…making a connection in a short while…

  2. I favor a broader view of creativity and factor in a spiritual imperative to find our creative selves. We are created in the image of the great Creator therefore we are creative/creators ourselves and anything we create ignites change. Create a new flavor of a milkshake and you change your world – however minor.
    Change inspires hope for more change. (What other version of a milkshake can I create?) And hope renews the heart when we discover with Christ all things are possible.
    When applied to a poverty stricken community, creativity, most easily identified with the arts, becomes a battle cry for change and therefore hope for a renewed community who now sees, through the lens of what my creative self can create, the very real possibility to change my pitiful world.

    And in the process, I have an encounter with He whom I am made in the image of, God, my creator.

  3. Yup. If I hear one more church tell me they want their website to look “just like XYZ Church”, I’m going to poke my eyes out with pencils.

    Your church is here for a specific purpose that only you can fill. Do the hard work & invest the time to figure out what it is. Copying others is a cop out.

    I’m not talking about being innovative for the sake of innovation, but choosing to pause & discover vs blindly following the herd can lead to great things.

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