Zadra Creative Blog

The Creativity Paradoxes

Color pencils representing the concept of Standing out from the crowdQuirky traits of creative people.

Look closely at the creative process, and you’ll run into all kinds of fascinating paradoxes. What appears to be true about creative people and companies cannot be, and yet it is.

One of my favorite lists of paradoxical traits (there are others) comes from Michael Michalko, the author of Thinkertoys. These all ring true to me:

To be consistently creative, a person must…

  • Have knowledge but forget the knowledge.
  • See unexpected connections in things, but not have a mental disorder.
  • Work hard, but spend time doing nothing.
  • Create many ideas, yet most of them are useless.
  • Look at the same thing as everyone else, yet see something different.
  • Desire success, but learn how to fail.
  • Be persistent, but not stubborn.
  • Listen to experts, but know how to disregard.

Noodling on these and other creative paradoxes helps us understand and appreciate the seemingly mysterious ways in which creative people consistently coax brilliant new ideas into the world.


One thought on “The Creativity Paradoxes

  1. Hey Dan, the points you mention for creative people certainly fit my story. I get 100% but the only point stamped and qualified by authorities is the part about the mental disorder. Can I still be a mentor of the team if I’m diagnosed with bipolar.

    Always good wishes.


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