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Creativity 3.0 – why the new story of creativity is incomplete

During the past few years, a new story of creativity has emerged. But even the new story is incomplete. Let me be audacious enough to recount the old story, propose the new story, and to fill in what I think is incomplete and propose Creativity 3.0. And you please help me fill in the blanks (literally) in the comments below. After all, we’re writing this new story of creativity together, aren’t we?

The old story of creativity goes something like this:

Creativity involves a hero, an individual genius in solitude, a Michelangelo or daVinci or Beethoven or Picasso staring at white walls who’s visited by a mysterious muse.

To be creative, then, you have to be a loner in love with his own mind who gets lost in time and who is gifted enough to have random “visitations.”

The genius personality is often at the whim of muses and moods, given to Lord Byron-esque torrents and despair and neuroses.

Creativity is a mysterious art, inexplicable and better left that way except for the initiated.

Creativity is about marvels, moods, and mind.

The Old Story of Creativity hallows the Lone Gifted Wolf.

We inherited this story in part from the Renaissance culture, the Romantic culture, and the Modernist emphasis on magic,  the cult of personality, and the psychology of personality.

Freud is one of the Old Story’s bards.

The new story of creativity goes something like this:

Creativity is a populist story.

Creativity is more about getting through challenges than coming up with ideas. It’s about perspiration more than inspiration.

Creativity is social. It’s about capturing ideas sometimes randomly in conversation or collaboration.

Creativity is environmental. Place and physical surroundings influence how you come up with, capture, and follow through on ideas.

The New New Story of Creativity champions the Pack.

Neuroscientists, social psychologists, cognitive psychologists, and entrepreneurs are its bards.

Where is the new story of creativity incomplete?

Enthusiasts eager to dismantle “the old” sometimes throw out the solitary baby with the creative bath water. Some creative work does require solitude. Cubicle, collective creativity is not always conducive to deep incubation necessary to birth inventions and break-throughs. Slick, urban execution comes in pretty, efficacious packages but don’t necessarily contribute true meaning and beauty. Values matter.

To be creative over several decades and not a few glorious years is a journey.  It’s the journey of learning to play your creative instrument – you, your mind, your relationships – with a little more virtuosity. And it is a matter of cultivating engaging creative relationships and forming packs. Solitude and collaboration.

Creativity is not all doing. Exercising divergent thinking – the work set forth by mid-20th-century thinkers like Edward deBono – still has merit and needs to be taught.

And here are some additional chapters to, let’s call it, Creativity 3.0. These chapters have not been fully articulated or explored by the new bards, but they are what we at Tracking Wonder are all about:

Creativity is physical. How your body functions and moves influences a good 95% of your mind’s ability to generate, notice, and follow through on ideas. Creativity also burns a lot of blood sugar. So, the new new creativity emphasizes a vital body and mind more than a deranged one.

Creativity is a whole lot emotional intelligence. Your ability to monitor your emotions and harness them without suppressing them also shapes your ability to generate, capture, and follow through on ideas. The genius is not at the whims of emotional torrents. The genius can navigate the inner emotional caves, name their inhabitants, and with creative mindfulness adjust the sails without repression.

Creativity is intentional and intuitive. You must be able to train your mind to focus with intention while at the same time be able to drop down deep for gut premonitions.

Creativity is about mindfulness and mindwanderness.

Creativity is awareness of awareness. See above. What I call creative mindfulness.

And creativity is part hard-to-explain and lived-experience art and part predictable science.

Creativity is part chaos and part order. You do have to give in to chance and unstructured play time, but designing regular rhythms and methods and systems makes the difference between a perennial amateur and someone who has taken a journey toward mastery.

Neuroscientists, social psychologists, cognitive psychologists, and entrepreneurs in conversation with practicing artists, designers, and other creative types + teachers of mindfulness & body-based practices are its bards.

Conversation is the mode of Creativity 3.0. And it is a conversation that involves a lifetime of learning.

Why bother devoting a lifetime to such learning?

Because it turns out that creativity is a gift. It’s not something bestowed upon the gifted. Creativity is something we all have, and when we learn to play it well, it becomes a gift we keep on giving to others through our books & services & experiences & workshops & trainings & designs & dances & art. To provoke someone to think differently. To help someone feel more deeply.  To challenge the status quo and to come up with new ways, more humane ways of doing things.

That’s the new new story of creativity, at least as I’m writing and seeing it being written. And it’s your story. It’s our story. It’s our journey. A patch of the planet awaits our gifts. Are you ready to come with me?

Psst…Where does wonder come into the story? Well, there is an old and a new story of wonder, too. To be continued…

Another post…You can take part in this new story this March. You might never create the same way again.

If you found value in this story, please forward or share it with your own Wild Packs and Fan Packs – the ones you run with, love, and serve.

Any contests, raised brows, or trumpets of fanfare in response to the above?

How would you fill in these blanks:

The old story of creativity is_________

The new story of creativity is________

The old story of creativity looks like_______

The new story of creativity looks like_______

The old story of creativity sounds like_______

The new story of creativity sounds like_______

See you in the woods,



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