10 Traits for Creative People

A prominent author and professor, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who published the award-winning book, “Flow: Psychology of Optimal Experience”, wrote about ten seemingly paradoxical traits of creative people in this article. 

He mentioned that: “When we’re creative, we feel we are living more fully than during the rest of life……But creativity also leaves an outcome that adds to the richness and complexity of the future. 

Other than being creative, what makes creative people so unique?  He author said: “Creative individuals are remarkable for their ability to adapt to almost any situation and to make do with whatever is at hand to reach their goals. If I had to express in one word what makes their personalities different from others, it’s complexity. They show tendencies of thought and action that in most people are segregated. They contain contradictory extremes; instead of being an “individual,” each of them is a “multitude.“”

The following ten traits of creative people are as follows:

1) They possess an abundance of energy, while simultaneously able to find periods to rest and recharge/regroup.  Being able to focus intently on anything at anytime is paramount.  Being able to shuffle this balance, is important for these people’s success.  Past trial and errors helped them with achieving their goals.

2) Ability to balance convergent and divergent thinking.  Convergent thinking is the ability to solve well-defined problems that have one correct answer, this can be measured by IQ tests.  Divergent thinking is the ability to generate a multitude of ideas while being flexible and being able to use different perspectives, but not necessarily arrive at an answer.  This is the type of thinking that is encouraged by creative workshops.  Finally, the creative person is able to use Convergent thinking to select the right answer/solution from Divergent thinking.

3) Balancing playfulness and discipline is also key.  Creative people persevere during hardships and periods of difficulty.  It is not uncommon when most people are relaxing, these people are hard at work.

4) Alternate between the realms of fantasy and imagination.  Many creative ideas are borne from that extra leap in imagination.  Many people view artists, musicians, etc. as being part of the fantasy realm, while scientists, mathematicians, etc. as being realists.  When the creative person begins to work, this is no longer true.

5) Be simultaneously extraverted and introverted.  Most people are one or the other, but creative people are both.

6) Be self-deprecating and humble, while being proud.  They understand the quality of work that was accomplished before theirs and are able to put their work into perspective.  They focus on future ideas and current projects, as past projects no matter how interesting or significant, are no longer interesting.

7) Possess both female and male traits in thinking.  Being psychologically androgyny means a person has the ability to be both aggressive and nuturant, rigid and sensitive, competitive and collaborative, dominating and submissive regardless of gender.

8) Act rebellious/iconoclastic, and be concurrently traditional/conservative. Creative people understand and appreciate current dogma.  Being able to take risks to possibly enable paradigm shifts may be necessary.

9) Are passionate about their work, yet, objective about it.  The ability to detach oneself from a project and can identify and understand criticism from others.

10) Are sensitive, which opens to them to pain, yet it can become enjoyable.  Creative people are usually at the forefront of new ideas and designs, and are subject to criticism.  Due to their nature, many things bother them, and they need to correct these imperfections.  For example, a badly designed vehicle would bother a creative engineer.  Divergent thinking is viewed by many as deviant, resulting in many creative people feeling misunderstood.

The above ten antithetical traits of creative people underlie some of their motivations and ways of viewing the world.  Most importantly, is that in order for creativity to thrive in people, they must enjoy the process of creation.  Without this, it would stifle creativity.


2 responses to “10 Traits for Creative People

  1. Pingback: Paradox of various leadership traits during change « Ideas make the world go round

  2. Pingback: The psychology of Flow « Ideas make the world go round

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