In his training manual for creativity coaches, author Eric Maisel provides us with this gem:
“Creativity [or writing] is not a talent or ability. It is the fruit of a person’s decision to matter.”
He goes on to explain by saying that climbing Everest, laying down one’s life for one’s child, or writing a novel isn’t accomplished because we have a talent for climbing, dying, or writing.
Each of these activities are achieved because of our decision to climb Everest, our decision to sacrifice ourselves for the sake of our child, and the decision to write a novel the matters.
I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve heard the phrase, ‘you have such a talent for writing.’ I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase many times as well. For me, it always makes me cringe a little privately.
While I appreciate the other person’s complimentary remarks, it somehow reduces my book, article, or blog post to something a machine could do if programmed appropriately. Their supposition infers my resulting work required little decision-making; it passes over the possibility that it required sacrifice, frustration, and nearly giving up.
The reality is that each of us makes a conscious decision to make meaning if we are of a creative bent. For many, and I include myself in this category, they feel that writing chose them instead of the other way around.
With this I agree to the extent that we all have genetically hard-wired DNA that codes is to excel at some activities.
Stupid Work, Current Work, and Our Most Meaningful Work
I’ve written elsewhere that we each, over the course of our lifetime, engage in stupid work, current work, and meaningful work. Stupid work is that which doesn’t engage any of our genetic predispositions to excel…like my washing windows or placing price tags on men’s belts -both are examples of jobs I held as a young man.
Current work is the work we are currently engaged in that may touch briefly on our most meaningful work (MMW), that work that we simply can’t-not-do. It is, perhaps, the decision to engage in our MMW, the work that allows us to fully express who we are, that shapes our intent to make meaning.
If our intent is to engage in the work we are coded to do better than any other and combine this intent with the decision to matter, to make meaning, and to do the work because it matters, there is perhaps no greater creative endeavor.
What about you?
Do you agree with Dr. Maisel’s postulate that creativity isn’t talent? Does hearing the phrase, “you’ve got such a talent for _________” bother you on some level? I’d love the hear your thoughts in comment or over on the Facebook page.