Monkey around already!

Today, I attended a Webinar sponsored by and presented by G. Michael Maddock.

In business, there are often synergystic pairings: Walt and Roy Disney; Wilbur and Orvil Wright.  One is the creative genius and the other is the business mastermind.  Maddock calls them the idea monkey, and the ringleader respectively.

At work, I identify with the idea monkey but I also have the focus and vision of a ringleader (I think).  I had to ask the question: can one person be both?

The answer: yes.  If the entrepreneur is in business for herself, she has to be both.  I think because of my writing, which is essentially self-employment, I’ve learned to be self directed as well as creative.

Other interesting learning bits:

Dr. Edward Hallowell, whose research influenced Maddock.  His primary area of research is ADD/ADHD and some of his research has identified similarities between highly creative or innovative people and those diagnosed with ADD/ADHD.

This was an interesting piece, especially given my recent postings on creativity and adversity in My history as a so-called author (A born storyteller … and Three blind mice).

The insight equation: I [statement of fact] because [reason] but [tension].  Example: I want to pay via credit card online because it’s convenient, but I’m afraid of fraud.  (Paypal’s insight).  The critical piece is the but + t (for tension).  So when thinking about a problem to solve with innovation, look for the sexiest butt 🙂

Expertise gets in your way.  Think outside the box?  You can’t read the label if you’re stuck inside the jar.

Finally, intelligence is painful.  You have to learn from your own mistakes.  Wisdom is better.  You get to learn from the mistakes of others.

It’s quite a bit to digest, but like most of the things I learn through my day job, it has implications not only for my work as a trainer and course designer, but also for my creative life.

What have you learned lately that seems to tie into your life in diverse and interesting ways?  Are you an idea monkey, or a ringleader?  If you’re a ringleader, do you like to monkey around?


A born storyteller …

Storyteller is just another name for liar.

In grade one, I think all my classmates (and teachers) thought of me as a silly giggler, a liar, and cat-lady-in-training.

I didn’t even know how to write properly yet, so I exercised my creativity by telling my classmates in “show and tell” about the latest stray cat that I picked up on the way home.  They’d always run away after a few days and so I could show the class a different picture from the cat book I’d checked out of the library and tell them that my latest find looked just like that.

Daydreaming was also a preoccupation.  Because my dad had epilepsy, it was thought that I might too and that my habit of totally “zoning out” was actually petit mal seizures.  Later in life, I was formally tested for epilepsy and there was absolutely no sign of it.  I’d just delve so deeply into my fantasy world that there was nothing could tear me away.

If I was born 20 years later, I’d probably have been diagnosed as ADHD and drugged into submission.  As it was, I was “spoken to” and ignored.  I was deemed enthusiastic but disruptive by different teachers for different reasons.

Can you see the mischievious? Just call me “wee devil” 🙂

Really, I was painfully shy, and the giggling was a way of deflecting uncomfortable situations, which meant pretty much everything.  To this day, I still laugh when I offer a thought or suggestion to my colleagues or manager at work.  If it’s too radical, my suggestion can always be dismissed as a joke, right?

The daydreaming-at-inappropriate-times thing stayed with me until my mid-twenties, and then I started to get clever about it.  I’d restrict my mental ramblings to my “alone time” so no one would be put off by my apparent disinterest in whatever it was they were saying.  Now I cultivate solitariness.  As I writer, I have reason to, but as a creative soul, I simply can’t do without.

As for the telling of stories, I’ve always wondered what might have happened if someone had recognized what it was I was trying to express and encouraged me to turn those imaginary powers to something else.  If I’d started writing my dreams and stories down earlier, where might I be today?

Ultimately what-ifs and might-have-beens are only intellectual exercises.  None of us have do-overs.

A few months ago, one of the writers I consider to be a mentor, Barbara Kyle, presented this TED talk (via Volconvo) to her creative network:

It is 20 minutes well-spent, trust me.  Sir Ken is incredibly funny, but his message is dead serious.  Currently, it is not the business of schools to nurture creativity, but to create useful/functional members of society.  I rather agree with Sir Ken, that only by nurturing the creativity of our children will schools produce truly valuable members of the human community.

I’ve also been disturbed by the resurfacing of the ADHD debate.  Are children being over diagnosed/incorrectly diagnosed?  This debate has been around for decades and it still hasn’t been resolved.

Some food for thought:

Were you a creative child smothered by a school system that didn’t recognize what your “acting out” meant?  How did you come to understand your creativity and who helped you through that sometimes agonized and agonizing process?  Did you ever feel less valued or less intelligent because you were more creative than academic?