Where Does Creativity Come From?

I love discovering that long-held wisdom or cultural beliefs are mythology. Ideas are so often what hold people back from achieving greater potential – and freedom from the prison of those ideas can create revolutions that make us all better, stronger, and wiser.

This weekend I watched some videos on the site Everything Is A Remix that changed my preconceptions about what it means to be creative, what an inventor is, and how brilliant new ideas come to be. Much like Simon Sinek’s talk on Getting to Why, this video has the potential to be a touchstone for many of us who operate in the fields of marketing and technology.

Some of my big takeaways after watching include:

  • What we currently think of as “original” may not even exist.
  • Feeling guilt for creating derivatives from the works of others is foolish.
  • Studying the works of others may be a great path to creativity.
  • I need to experiment with mashing things up more.
  • Viewing derivatives next to their sources has the weird, undeserved effect of tarnishing their artistic contribution. That’s probably a big part of what needs to change in my mind to get to a place of acceptance and understanding about how creativity happens.
  • No matter what we create, we need to remember that the vast majority of the credit almost always belongs to those who created before us – internalizing that should make humility more achievable too.
  • Steve Jobs was a total asshole of a hypocrite (in addition to being the least philanthropic person of his wealth class in a generation), and I hope fewer entrepreneurs consider him a role model over time.

If you have time, their video on the Elements of Creativity is also worth a viewing. It traces back the creation of the personal computer and the graphical user interface to its many, many roots.

Our legal system and capitalist culture today seem trapped by a mythology of creativity’s source. Here’s to hoping that we can break through those barriers, even if it’s only a little at a time.