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Wired to Create Overview Part 1: Messy Minds

April 04, 2022 by Britt Fulmer

Everyone has an innate desire and natural ability to create. Creativity is central to the human condition, and understanding the mechanics of creativity can help you identify elements in your client’s lives that unlock even more creative potential. 

In the book, Wired to Create, Scott Barry Kaufman and Caroline Gregory dive into the complexities of the creative mind. They discuss the ten things that highly creative people tend to do differently from those who don’t consciously lean into their creativity. In this blog series, we look at our top takeaways from the book and how coaches can use these insights to work with clients wanting more creativity in their lives.

#1: The creative process is a messy one. Coaches can encourage clients to embrace the mess.

Wired to Create Overview Part 1: Messy Minds

The creative process is a messy one. While psychologists have tried to assign it with formulas or force it into a box with a pretty bow, creativity still baffles attempts to define it neatly. When people step deeper into their creativity, they often feel increasing contradictions. For example, they might feel both high levels of extraversion and introversion or simultaneously high levels of open-mindedness and conviction. Research has even suggested that people diving deepest into their creativity will sometimes test high on psychopathology and psychological health measures. 

Observational studies suggest that people engaged in creativity are more likely to go deeper into their inner worlds. This brings up one more contradiction: people yearning to be more creative have to both engage in creating more mess as well as more structure. The combination of increasing the chaos while also seeking meaning often brings friction to coaching sessions, which is a recipe for deeper insights. Traditionally, schools teach people to value precision and organization over experimentation and expression. While organization is important and useful, it takes courage to embrace the chaos and stay with the process. 

#2: Imaginative Play is both a gateway and training for creativity. A professional coach can lean more into playful coaching questions and value play as an effective creativity and productivity tool. 

Imaginative play is one of the most essential aspects of the creative mind. When we are young, we have a natural inclination toward using our creativity and imagination to engage with the world around us. Albert Einstein once said, “Play is the highest form of research.” Childhood play is full of experiments, and these experiments lead to learning and understanding where we stand in life. But not everyone brings that same level of curiosity and wonder into their adult lives. People who score high on creativity do not use their imaginations as adults, but they set aside intentional time to engage with their imaginations. 

The good news for coaches is that the coaching world is built for this kind of imaginative play. Why? The book posits that “playful curiosity can help us break free from conventional ways of thinking.” And curiosity is at the absolute core of coaching. If our approach with clients consistently comes from a place of curiosity, we are much more likely to help break them free from their conventional ways of thinking and encourage them to discover new insights and pathways for a better future. 

#3: Daydreaming is underrated. In many ways, an excellent coaching session allows clients to daydream aloud while a coach asks questions designed to help increase the dream. 

On the surface, it might not seem like daydreaming has a whole lot to do with the coaching world. But when you really think about it, daydreaming offers quite a few benefits to coaches and their clients. One reason daydreaming can be so impactful is that it is a way for us to break from any stressors or problems in our external worlds and visit our internal worlds. There, we find an abundance of ideas, information, and inspiration we can’t access when in our more conscious external world. Essentially, daydreaming allows us to unlock an aspect of our creative problem-solving that exists in our subconscious mind and bring it into our conscious world. Coaching is a perfect conduit to foster this kind of inward exploration as it’s a coach’s job to help their clients bridge the gap between their inner and outer worlds. 

Daydreaming is also the process through which clients will develop their future selves. In this sense, coaches can serve as guides for their client’s daydreams, leading them toward an ideal future state

In part two of our Wired to Create exploration, we will look at the concepts of passion and inspiration, solitude, intuition, and mindfulness as they relate to creativity and coaching. 

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