Tuesday, July 27, 2010


I think I know a lot about creativity. I am sometimes the most creative person I know.

"Creativity in America" is the cover story, a five-page article in a recent Newsweek. I found the article hard to read, jam-packed with overloaded sentences that developed a construct about how important it is to nurture creativity -- a construct that, in my opinion, is NOT constructive.

Back in 1958, E. Paul Torrence, a highly-credited professor, tested a group of 400 kids. In order to evaluate a child's creativity, he created a test that included handing a kid a toy, and asking what would you do to make it more fun to play with? Other tests included half-finished drawings that the kid was asked to finish. The test results were evaluated by trained psychologists.

The professor's colleagues have been tracking these children. Their surveys show that kids who tested high fifty years ago, ended up three times more successful than the kids who tested low.

Torrence and his colleagues define creativity as -- "Production of something original and useful. To be creative requires divergent thinking (generating many unique ideas), and then convergent thinking (combining those ideas into the best result)."

Tracking what these children accomplished -- inventions they patented, businesses they opened, research they did, grants they received, the books, plays, art, software, hardware, advertisements, music, architecture, public policies they created -- show that children who tested high in creativity became somebodies -- entrepreneurs, inventors, college presidents, authors, doctors, diplomats, software developers.

The Torrence creativity tests, called the CQ, or creative quotient, show that a child's creative quotient is a more significant predictor of what the child may accomplish in his life, than the child's IQ. Today, the tests are considered "the gold standard" in creativity assessment.

I think the CQ is a life ruiner, part of what I call the number disease -- polls that tell what percent (of those surveyed) disapprove of what Obama said/did yesterday; percentage numbers that tell us and sell us how long we will live, how much we may earn, how much we should weigh, eat, sleep, exercise -- advise us on sex, marriage, divorce, family, what to earn, what to buy, what to expect at what age -- tell, sell us about all of our needs and feelings.

Do you remember the "The Age of Anxiety?" It was an Auden poem, a Leonard Bernstein Symphony, a Jerome Robbins Ballet. Well, I think we are living, right now, in the age of Tell/Sell."

Put on earmuffs, or wear ear plugs! Creativity is making something. Do it, try it, if at first ... try, try again. Or don't. You make your life. You make a day. It is your hour. You make your mood. It can be changed, turned, re directed, rebuilt, undone. stopped, re-started. The numbers -- polls, IQ or CQ -- the knowledge of your statistics stops you. Your probabilities stop you.

Here's the Em Q: Why some people succeed, why some people fail, who wins, who loses is like sweet or sour, spicy or creamy -- what do you enjoy tasting? Do you enjoy scary, risky ventures, or choose safety, security?

Turn off the numbers, polls, percentages, and react. Perceive what you are thinking and feeling. If you aren't sure, mull it over. Or dive -- jump! It's YOUR splash, YOUR air, YOUR floor, YOUR window, your life. You can always re-invent yourself.

I've re-invented myself at least twice. Anyone can do it at any age!

P.S. My intelligence at age 9 was average. I am now sometimes brilliant, sometimes an average, ordinary, impatient person, a rather sloppy-thinking, but intuitive know-it-all.


Big Daddy said...

That is beautifully written Emily! Thank you for sharing your brilliant words...and I do mean brilliant!
I have often "re-invented" myself...sometimes just for a certain situation or person! Mind you, I didn't re-invent everything about me, but tweaked a few things!

Have a beautiful week.


Lynne said...

If creativity produces something "useful" that's OK I guess, but can't something creative just BE and exist for its own sake? I find it depressing sometimes that we feel we have to ANALYZE everything and try to figure out what makes it tick.

Linda Phillips said...

My goodness...how can you "measure" creativity???? That's just so totally non-creative! To create comes from within. It comes from the heart, the hand, the foot, the voice, the mind. It flows...It isn't a commodity. Wow, if someone ever told me I was this amount or that amount creative... I think I would just shut down...I am what I am and I create from within. I have been an actress and an interior designer...I write...I have spent years (long ago) learning to sculpt, to do life drawing, to make lost wax jewelry.. to come up with silly ideas for all kinds of things that just strike my fancy. To me that is what its like to be a creative person and that is from my own perspective not someone else's, as someone else might see it totally differently and it would be just as valid. A teacher once gave my parents my IQ score and they told it to me...it was..lets say...quite high...and I wish I never knew it...as it has always remained with me and when I have a hard time grasping a concept...I get annoyed with myself...because I think that that teacher had to have made a mistake with my IQ number..frankly I wish I never knew it..but on the other hand, when I do say something that (to me at least ;-) ) sounds rather brilliant...I do think..ah ha..that teacher was right!!!!!! LOL

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