E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

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The Source of Creativity by John Cleese

How about if we get things going with another week at work by sharing along another one of those short video clips that permeates not only a wonderful dose of inspiration for us all, but also some rather thought-provoking gems throughout the entire 10 minutes that it lasts? That wouldn’t be too bad of a start of the week, right? Well, if that’s the case, see if you can find 10 minutes of your time to go and watch John Cleese‘s (Yes, the one and only!) talk about “The Source of Creativity“. And be prepared to be WOWed, once again!

Last week Friday you would remember how I put together a blog post referencing a recent TED Talk from Steven Johnson on Where Good Ideas Come From, so I thought I would drop by over here today and share with you folks another interesting video clip on that whole topic of creativity and generating ideas. Like I said before, it’s a clip featuring a 10 minute presentation from John Cleese, and worth while every single minute of it!

In it you would find some interesting golden insights on the topic of “Sleeping on a [problem]” and waking up having to a solution available just right there! As if there wasn’t any road block any longer stopping you from progressing further. Now, how many times have we all done something similar? Probably too many, right? How about the critical role of the subconscious? According to John, it’s actually rather fascinating to see how most of the times our very own subconscious keeps on working through plenty of creative activities we thought were already finished, but apparently weren’t. And how in most cases the end result from them is actually way better! Amazing stuff! I never thought I could relate so much to the processes of creativity as John describes them, but he surely makes some wonderful points that are hard to debate. Quite the opposite, don’t you think?

Gran Canaria - Roque Nublo & Surroundings in the SpringAnother set of interesting and rather inspiring thoughts from John’s presentation are the ones that discuss the flow of thought versus the interruptions we are all exposed to on a rather regular basis, and describing nicely how destructive they are towards the creative process altogether, specially seeing how hard it is for most of us to come back on track sooner enough without losing too much of that focus. But still coming along at a high price, for sure. Ensure you watch through this segment of his presentation, because I bet you will find it very disruptive, and provocative, if you are one of those folks who believes firmly on busyness to generate ideas. Just brilliant!

One of the phrases that I found rather intriguing and astonishing was that one where he claims that we really don’t know where we do get our ideas from. It looks like we are not getting them from our laptops or mobile devices; apparently they keep coming up from that part of the subconscious that we don’t seem to be capable of justifying just yet. We need to be in the right mood, which will provoke that mode of thinking that, in itself, will spark our creative selfs. Busyness will not succeed in this regard, according to John, and I surely believe that, too! At least, it’s never worked out just right for me while sitting in front of the computer.

Sometimes, like John says, you would need to create a mood that would enable you to be more creative; and, as such, you would be able to do that by focusing on two key different aspects:

  • Create boundaries of space, to avoid those interruptions which are rather disastrous to the overall creative process.
  • Create boundaries of time: so that you can give yourself a starting time and a finish time.

I am not sure what you would think about it all, but, to me, it’s continuing to make perfect sense, no only from the perspective of creativity and generating ideas yourself, but also from the perspective of getting the job done, which is why, while watching through the video, I couldn’t help thinking about my own experiences of subconsciously creating those boundaries of space (A specific place in my home office) and, consciously, of time (Of course, with the wonderful Pomodoro Technique).

Tremendously powerful insights from John Cleese on what makes creativity click for him. And how those inconvenient interruptions may well be avoided overall during the entire creative process, which is also why I got reminded about a blog post I put together about four years ago, under the heading “The High Cost of Interruptions“, and which seems to be fitting rather nicely in this context, as they both come to a rather similar conclusion, at least, in my mind, of how disruptive interruptions can well be around the creative process:

“We create our own distractions and just need to learn to manage them“

Now, there are a bunch of other interesting golden nuggets that John shares across that presentation he did just recently. I am not going to spoil them for you much more from here; instead I would encourage all to go through those wonderfully inspiring 10 minutes that the video clip lasts for and see if they would help you make a distinction between busyness and that creative process where you set up the boundaries of space and time to help provoke those ideas coming out. While watching it through I realised how, subconsciously, while giving it a try with the Pomodoro Technique, I may have already started defining those boundaries myself successfully. And, must confess, I am liking it. Quite a lot! In fact, I am having a blast and, somehow, I cannot be grateful enough to John Cleese for confirming what my subconscious was sensing already for a long while. It feels good.

Good stuff!


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