Creativity is a survival instinct

With all the Gladwellisms about 10,000 hours and claims that anyone can be Mozart with the right combination of time and circumstance, I’d like to plead the case for the caveman in all of us.

Fact is, when you’re under pressure, your mind goes into a more focused state. Why? Allow me to offer the “escape the bear” theory.

Caveman Erik is wandering through the fields when he encounters a hungry bear. Erik is not in the mood for dying. His culture hasn’t developed the theory of afterlife yet, so he’s just as advanced as most of us secular types, he’s a chickenshit. Time to survive. Suddenly there are many ideas new and amazing. Something like, “Run? No, too slow. Play dead? Roll in something smelly? Pretend I’m not here? Throw a rock? Climb a tree? Throw a tree? Throw my friend here in front of me?” In seconds he’s come up with a number of interesting options and even fleshed a few out. In my opinion, not getting eaten was the first creative brief.

So let’s put it into practice. Try taking a creative session and break part of it into little one-minute panic attacks. Everybody gets really focused.

Keep the ideas. Slow the pace down and try again. Sure all the training, experience and discipline help out but the biases, interruptions and moods get thrown out too. Just like when the bear is coming. Try it.

How did Erik do? He was delicious.

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