Several months ago, Georgia Hughes, our editorial director, brought in a manuscript by Michael Michalko called Creative Thinkering and passed it around. My first thought was that the title was a little odd. The subtitle grabbed me from the beginning: Putting Your Imagination to Work.
Then I started to read the manuscript, and the first sentences of the Introduction had me totally hooked:
Why are some people creative and others not?
The key question isn’t “Why are some people creative and others not?” It is why in God’s name isn’t everyone creative? Where and how was our potential lost? How was it crippled?
Why does education inhibit creativity? Why can’t educators foster more creativity instead of less? . . . Why are people amazed when someone creates something new, as if it were a miracle?
Yes! I’ve asked myself these questions. I flipped to chapter 1; it opened with a brilliant quote from Picasso that I’d never seen before, followed by a passage that made me feel that this book had to be published well and read widely:
Every child is an artist.
The problem is how to remain an artist
once we grow up.
We were all born spontaneous and creative. Every one of us. As children we accepted all things equally. We embraced all kinds of outlandish possibilities for all kinds of things.
When we were children, we knew a box was much more than a container. A box could be a fort, a car, a tank, a cave, a house, something to draw on, and even a space helmet. Our imaginations were not structured according to some existing concept or category. We did not strive to eliminate possibilities; we strove to expand them. We were all amazingly creative and always filled with the joy of exploring different ways of thinking.
And then something happened to us: we went to school. We were not taught how to think; we were taught to reproduce what past thinkers thought. . . .
Do you remember what you did with a box when you were a child? I had a spaceship in the basement. And then something happened. I went to school. I watched a lot of TV. And I started to feel that I wasn’t very talented; I wasn’t all that smart. It took me many years to realize I was a creative genius, in my own unique way. And then I realized that everyone is a creative genius, in their own unique way. Some people understand this and others don’t.
Creative Thinkering is a wonderful, powerful book: It can show us how to think like a genius. It can show us that we are all creative geniuses.