ArLyne's Diamonds

A running commentary of ideas

Monday, February 15, 2016

Creativity Stifled

Before I really start on this theme, I need to once again assert that when I talk about creativity I am talking about it in all forms, not just music and art – or creating the great innovative breakthrough. Creativity is the ability to think independently and to come to new solutions, new ways of considering things, new ways of behaving, etc. It’s being aware of your surroundings and responding not merely obeying and following. It’s improving processes, treating people intuitively and allowing yourself to be yourself, not merely a clone of others.

When we watch young children we see them as curious, energetic and incredibly creative.  What happens? Why, as they age are most of them afraid to take a risk? 

It seems to me that all too often parents, teachers and others stifle this natural tendency to explore by making sure kids color within the lines, follow instructions, do exactly as they are told, follow tradition, and all the other words we use to force conformity.

What happens to the creative kid in school who wants to try a different approach to solving a problem?  

Why do we see “a nation of sheep” – people who value conformity and “not making waves”  as more important than expression of ideas?

Whoever said, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all”?
Speaking out is so important. 

The world is a dangerous place,
not because of those who do evil,
but because of those who look on and do nothing.
Albert Einstein.

In my book Conflict in the Workplace: Causes and Cures, I devote a whole chapter to The Tyranny of Pleasantness. 

When people are afraid to speak out because they are seen as not a team player, or contrary, or some other bad thing, decisions are made that may not be the best. Remember, the camel is a horse designed by a committee. All too often, the one who sees it differently – and probably better – has been shut down so often in the past that he or she stays silent.

Would women have had the vote if a group of them didn’t speak out? Would the civil rights movement have occurred if people weren’t willing to speak out? Could we have finally given gays rights if they had reminded silent?

Would we have stopped the mutilation and the holocaust and the killing fields – if we had chosen to speak out earlier?

All that is necessary for evil to happen is for good men to remain silent.

And not just about good and evil – what about taking men who had been confined to wheel chairs because of spinal cord injuries and teaching them they could play basketball – what about helping to relieve the depression and hopelessness of quadriplegics by teaching them to write with their mouths – and to have gurney races down the corridor of their hospital? (P.S. The nurses hated me, but the chief of psychiatry gave me full rein.)

What about so many changes that come about because someone is willing to say, “Let’s not do it the way we’ve always done it – let’s try something different.”?

Finally, what about all the innovations that come about because of “kooks”, “nerds”, “loose cannons”, curmudgeons and “dreamers” – who dare to try?


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