What Is Creative Intelligence?
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life thinking it is stupid.” Albert Einstein.
1. What is Creative Intelligence?
By definition, the creative is unconventional, anarchic, flexible, open and difficult to pin down. What the concept of creative intelligence does is enable us to understand and apply this dimension of human life that can sometimes feel so erratic or nebulous.
We are all creating all the time — both consciously and unconsciously – but our understanding of how, and our confidence in the process, has been suppressed in us (see 6 & 7 below).
2. Can you give me a definition?
Human intelligence is the capacity for knowing and learning. Creative intelligence is a vital dimension of that capacity. It is fostered through understanding how the creative process works in human beings and how to apply it.
Human creativity is activated through processes of intention and attention. When we become aware of these processes, we can learn how to direct them into what psychologists call creative flow.
3. What happens?
I like this description of the experience by the poet, Alfred Lord Tennyson, from “At Armagedden”:
..my mind seem’d wing’d with knowledge and the strength
of holy musings and immense ideas,
even to Infinitude. All sense of time
and being and place was swallowed up and lost.
This is very similar to how contemporary psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes creative flow. In his extensive interviews with his research subjects, many of them described the feeling of energized focus, full involvement and success in the process of an activity as a “flow” experience.
Other common terms for this condition, this mind-state, include being:
- in the zone,
- awake and aware
- in big mind
- tuned in
- in the groove
Many other writers, artists and sages have given eloquent descriptions of this creative state, in which thoughts break their bonds, mind transcends everyday limitations, consciousness expands in all directions and dormant forces, faculties and talents come alive.
Essentially, your creative intelligence is the condition of mind that allows you to access this state.
4. But isn’t inspiration a gift? We can’t control it.
Trying to catch hold of inspiration is like trying to squeeze water – the tighter your grasp, the less you hold. What we can do though is understand the conditions, states and practices that enable it to flow (see 11 below) and make changes that encourage them. Being inspired is, in many ways, a choice.
5. So creative intelligence is not just something for writers and artists?
No. Productive writers and artists have learned how to apply this intelligence to their work (though not necessarily to their lives). But the intelligence itself is present, though often suppressed, in us all. We all own it, we can all hone it.
6. Who suppressed it in us?
We ourselves mostly — with help from family members, school, workplaces, consumer culture and authority figures of all kinds.
7. I wasn’t taught about this intelligence in school?
Since its inception alongside the Industrial Revolution of the mid-nineteenth century Britain, formal schooling has favoured the analytical, organizational abilities of the brain, those abilities that are essential to sorting, ordering and figuring out, which can be (to some degree) measured by IQ tests. In fostering these abilities and their way of thinking about the world, school taught to repress other, deeper dimensions of our intelligence.
8. Why did educators do this?
Creative intelligence is more difficult to facilitate and measure. And schools and workplaces favored analytical intelligence because it trained us for efficiency — the highest value in the industrial (19th century) and information (20th century) economies. Now, as we move into the more fluid and flexible creative (21st century) economy, intelligence values are changing.
9. Does that mean we no long need analytical intelligence?
No. We will always need to know how to order, rank and figure things out. It is just that we are realising our minds are capable of much more than we have traditionally allowed.
10. If I was creatively intelligent, how would I know?
- You would recognise the relationship with your own creative process as the No 1 relationship in your life, the one that defines all the others.
- You would allow yourself to observe and express the truth of your unique character and experience.
- You would be awake to life through seven senses (sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell, overall perception and intuition).
- You would know how to summon stillness, awareness and presence and do so regularly.
- You would see that you are not separate from the rest of creative life, that the same process that creates one thing creates all things.
- You would allow challenging relationships and events in your life to teach you what you need to know.
- You would understand that creative intelligence is not acquired so much as accessed. It is alway there for us though we are not always there for it.
- You would feel confident of your ability to create because you would know how to tune into your creative potential.
11. How can I use my creative intelligence?
However you want. Once you understand the process and how it works, you can apply it to any aspect of life – relationships, hobbies, money, work – to create what you truly want and enjoy the process of bringing it into being.
12. That sounds too good to be true.
It is pretty wonderful and it is simple to do. However, it does call for a particular kind of effort. It asks you to go beyond what is given.
In writing and art, the ‘given’ takes the form of cliche, of tried-and-tested forms and ideas. In life, the ‘given’ includes the societal dynamics into which we are born; the friends, relatives or work colleagues who know what we should do or say or think. And our own ABCDEs – the attitudes, beliefs, concepts, denials and expectations that make up our habitual thoughts and feelings about what is possible or desirable. Breaking those bonds is simple but not always easy.
Secondly, opening new dimensions of mental and emotional freedom and possibility can be scary.
For both these reasons, people often resist their own creative spirit.
13. Where do I start?
F-R-E-E-Writing and Meditation are two proven practices that foster self-awareness and creative breakthrough. These practices are easy to learn — but they require regular commitment and the ability to recognise and overcome internal resistance (as in 12 above) to be effective.
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You can also apply for Creative Intelligence Coaching with Orna Ross