Sting, Ken Robinson, and Elizabeth Gilbert on Curiosity, Creativity, and Fear

Excerpts from this TED Radio Hour episode about creativity…

It’s usually clear that doing something creative involves some risk and vulnerability, but in this episode Sting defines creativity itself as the ability to take a risk.

For me, creativity is the ability to take a risk. To actually put yourself on the line and risk ridicule, being pilloried, criticized or whatever. But you have an idea that you think you want to put out there. And you must take that risk.

Ken Robinson, creativity and education expert, on the art of teaching, echoing Mr. Fred Rogers when he said, “The best teacher in the world is somebody who loves what he or she does and just loves it in front of you.”

All the great teachers I’ve ever met and worked with are people who can inspire interest and passion and curiosity and light up people’s imaginations with the interest they themselves have for a particular discipline or field of work. I mean if you think that teaching is always and only a process of giving people direct instructions and giving them information they have to memorize, but teaching is much more than that. It’s about enabling, it’s about facilitating, it’s about mentoring, it’s about creating curiosity.

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, on the necessity of fear in the creative process.

I think the thing that stops people from doing it is always exactly the same thing which is fear. And what I’ve discovered over the years is not that you have to be fearless because I don’t believe in fearlessness and I don’t advise it. I think instead what you have to do is recognize that fear and creativity are conjoined twins. And what I see people doing in their lives is they’re so afraid of their fear that they end up trying to kill it and when they kill it they also kill their creativity because creativity is going into the uncertain and the uncertain is always scary. And so what I’ve had to figure out how to do over the years is to create a mental construct in which I make a lot of space to co-exist with fear. To just say to it, “Hey, fear, listen. Creativity and I, your conjoined twin sister, are about to go on a road trip. I understand you’ll be joining us, because you always do. But you don’t get to decide anything about this journey that we’re going on. But you can come, and I know that you’ll be in the back seat in panic but we’re going anyway.” And you just take it along with you. And that seems to work for me.

Elizabeth Gilbert on why following your curiosity is better than following your passion.

We keep telling people to follow their passion. And I feel like that can be an intimidating and almost cruel thing to say to at times. Because first of all if someone has one, central, powerful, burning passion they’re probably already following it because that’s the definition of passion is that you don’t have a choice. If you don’t, which is a lot of people, and somebody tells you to follow your passion I think you have the right to give them the finger. Because it just makes you feel worse. If you don’t have an obvious passion, forget about it. Follow your curiosity, because passion is sort of a tower of flame that is not always accessible and curiosity is something that anybody can access any day. Your curiosity may lead you to your passion, or it may not. It may have been for nothing. In which case, all you’ve done your entire life is spend your existence in pursuit of the things that made you feel curious and inspired and that should be good enough. If you get to do that, that’s a wonderful way to have spent your time here.

Elizabeth Gilbert on diligence as the start of creativity.

It’s just been about showing up every day for the work. And I find that what happens is that you begin the work just from a place of diligence and discipline and then if you’re lucky through that process you’ll have moments where inspiration will come in and meet you. And what that feels like to me is it feels like I’m lugging my suitcase through a giant airport terminal and then all of a sudden I’m on one of those movable sidewalks. So I’m being assisted. But I keep moving regardless of whether the sidewalk is moving under me.

I love these people.

HT Buster.


About Kevin McGillivray

Kevin McGillivray is a teacher and web developer from Wisconsin. He writes about creativity, mindfulness, code, and tea. He is the co-founder of Sandcastle, a tiny studio.

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