tvořivě sebevědomý blog
19.11. 2017, Londýn
Celý včerejší sobotní den jsem strávila na workshopu o psaní a tvoření. 15 lidí, příjemná místnost, koláčky a čaj. Zkušený editor Andrew Wille nás prováděl čtyřmi živly, které je dobré vybalancovat, aby beletrie či literatura faktu byly srozumitelné, čtivé, zajímavé. Trochu vody, trochu ohně, trochu země a trochu vzduchu. Voila.
Možná o tom napíšu víc do detailu někdy jindy. Dnes mě více zajímá otázka: proč je ochotno 15 lidí (včetně mě) zaplatit peníze a strávit den na workshopu (dobře, bylo opravdu ošklivo, ale stejně)? Většina účastníků (tedy spíš účastnic) píše román nebo hru nebo poezii nebo knihu o astrologii. Chtějí být slavné? Chtějí si tím vydělávat?
Když jsem hovořila s mnoha tvůrci různých žánrů v rámci své disertace, dospěla jsem k deseti možným důvodům, proč tvořit. Většina z těch, které tvůrci uváděli, souvisela více s vnitřní motivací (intrinsic motivation), tedy věnování se úkolu pro úkol samotný, než s motivací vnější (extrinsic motivation), cílem, který je mimo samotný úkol.
To potvrzují i různé studie - v jedné z prvních z nich, v roce 1973, zkoumali vědci děti ve školce. Začalo to dobře - děti dostali nové barevné fixy. Skupina Berušek měla motivaci vnější, paní učitelka stanovila, že nejlepší obrázek dostane “Good Player Award”. Skupina Veverek měla motivaci vnitřní, kreslení pro samotné kreslení, žádný diplom. Ukázalo se, že Berušky sice něco nakreslily, ale vnější odměna oslabila jejich zájem o kreslení novými fixy. Odpoledne si s nimi už nehrály, na rozdíl od Veverek, kterým žádná odměna slíbena nebyla. Navíc i kvalita jejich obrázků byla horší než u Veverek.
Na základě třiceti let empirických studií tohoto typu, kdy byl podobný efekt zjištěn u různých věkových skupin a v různých prostředích, zformulovala Teresa Amabileová “princip vnitřní motivace tvořivosti” (intrinsic motivation principle of creativity), který se dá shrnout následovně:
“Ve velmi velkém počtu pečlivých empirických studií se ukázalo, že pro většinu osob ve většině situací má nastavení vnějších cílů, včetně očekávané odměny negativní dopad jak na motivaci jedince k vykonání úkolu, tak na jeho tvořivost při plnění úkolu”.
Vědci vysvětlují tento fakt tím, že očekávání odměny, hodnocení nebo jiného vnějšího tlaku nás vede k tomu, že hrajeme na jistotu a hledáme nejrychlejší řešení. To je v protikladu k hledání opravdu tvůrčího řešení. Očekávaná odměna zužuje naše pole, místo aby ho rozšiřovala (což zase souvisí s pozitivní psychologií a teoriemi “broaden and build”, rozšíření a budování Barb Fredriksonové, ale o tom až někdy jindy).
Takže je vlastně dost zajímavé, že i když jsou ty výzkumy hodně staré, tak se pořád divíme (jako já včera), že tolik lidí píše román/kreslí/tančí z vnitřní motivace spíše než kvůli motivaci vnitřní ...
Princip vnitřní motivace je možno převést i na jiné činnosti než jsou ty “umělecky” tvořivé. Vlastně skoro na všechny. I když zrovna nepíšete/nekreslíte/netančíte, možná pracujete v nějakém týmu, podniku, korporaci. A jak ukázal Daniel Pink ve svém bestselleru “Pohon”, pokud se jedná alespoň o malinko kognitivně náročný úkol, vnitřní motivace je výhodnější než motivace vnitřní. Takže až budete příště jako šéf vyhlašovat soutěž o “Good Player Award”, vzpomeňte si na Berušky a Veverky ve školce a ještě to promyslete.
A proč píšete/tančíte/kreslíte vy? Napište něco do komentářů a uvidíme, jestli to zapadá do mých 10 důvodů “proč tvořit”, o které se podělím příště. Anebo možná máte nějaký zcela originální důvod?
P.S. Fotka je z představení "Buchet". Hodně radosti, hodně společenství, hodně práce (to už trochu napovídám ohledně těch důvodů tvořit).
The role of the leader in this context is not to set a vision and then make others follow it, but rather to create an environment where others can flourish. In other words, to make things easier for them.
You can read the whole blog post (written for the Ariel Group) here.
Our task as facilitators, and leaders, is to create an environment where uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure are part of life. Where failure is a chance to learn. That is what “safe” means.
You can read the whole blog post (written for the Ariel Group) here.
“Yes, and” does not mean that you agree with everything other people are saying. It means that you do listen and take seriously their suggestions before accepting them, building on them or dismissing them.
You can read the whole blog (written for the Ariel Group) here.
A week in Mumbai. Contrasts, colour, spices, Bollywood songs, heat, Indian ocean. Wonderful participants in our two day training for the Ariel Group. Wonderful colleagues who flew in from Europe and Australia to deliver this training to four groups of 8 people in parallel. We go for dinner the night before, we discuss how to run this, what would be best, we exchange tips. We are professionals, colleagues, friends.
9 a.m. the next day, we start. My training room is next to Martin's and the sound proofing is really bad - I can hear a lot of what he says with his resonant voice. And I can hear his group laugh. And laugh again. And laugh again. Cheerful, active, engaged group.
Suddenly, it is here! Comparison! Martin must be a better facilitator than myself! He makes them laugh right from the beginning. His group is active already while in my group we have not even introduced each other. And we have not laughed! I am so boring! Martin is so entertaining! He is better! I am worse!
In one of the interviews I am doing for this creativity project, Victor, a performer, meditator and teacher, has summed this up beautifully, when we were talking about obstacles to creativity:
"But another obstacle is all the other stuff where my mind tends to go and that makes me suffer. Like comparing myself to others. Or being caught up in the questions of "how successful am I", "how well-known am I?" "am I on a good career track"? When I see people being very successful like - am I doing enough, am I doing ok? So that whole what I would call a pattern of suffering in the mind is another obstacle to creativity. That when I'm in that mindset of comparing or jealousy or grasping after more money or fame or whatever it is, that's the opposite of creativity.
And right, it's a direct parallel to the performance mind of - I'm on stage and what I'm worried about is the audiences' approval. Like: "is what I'm doing good enough"? That's performance mind. So yes, this is the direct day to day life analogy to performance mind.
The opposite is "being mind", because being mind is creativity. Being mind is being open to what's actually present. So, when I'm open to my senses, when I'm open to my thoughts and emotions. That's the essence of creativity, then all channels are open, I'm informed by everything and inspired by everything and I can create endlessly. I am letting in all of these things and there's no lack of inspiration. It's just letting in what's already there."
So, back in Mumbai, I do two things - first, on a very practical level, I ask the organizers to change the room, and indeed we manage to get a better room after the break. In the remaining hour, I take this as an exercise in the "being mind" versus "comparing mind". I tell myself things like: "I have a different style from Martin, maybe my group will laugh later (he who laughs later laughs best), or: "this is not about laughing but about learning". Mostly, I just breathe deeply and connect with the participants. Through all this, after some time, I do not hear Martin's group any more.
The funny thing? When we meet in the evening over a delicious palaak paneer and daal and biryani and all the other things on the buffet table, Martin shares with me that he went through the same process - why does Eva's group laugh more than mine?
It makes me very happy to follow the UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center online course “The Science of Happiness”. As other courses I have taken on Coursera, EdX or Novoed, I find the experience inspiring, informative and entertaining.
The course also clarified for me the interesting links between happiness and creativity, there seems to be a virtuous cycle between happiness and creativity.
There are dozens of studies proving that happiness and positive emotions make you more creative and innovative at work. Studies by Alice Isen and Barb Fredrikson show that when I am in a state in positive emotion, I become more creative. In their experiments, people who are given a bag of candy or shown a few minutes of a comedy film perform better on creative tasks and have more ideas about what to do next. Interesting work was done with doctors making better medical decisions, being better at integrating the complex information of an unsolved case when they're given a bag of candy - which when you think of it, is a really small positive emotion induction.
In the interviews I am conducting with people about their own creativity, the same pattern emerges - when people remember the conditions which made it possible for them to be creative, they talk about happy periods and moments in their lifes.
At the same time, being creative is the sort of activity that makes us happier. I am writing this on a train to Berlin right now, and as I look around at my fellow passengers, I wonder: “why are some happier than others?”
Researchers in the field of positive psychology have been studying this and have come up with some approximate answers. So, Sonja Lyubomirsky (LINK) explains that fifty percent (50%) of the variance in happiness is due to our genes, about ten percent (10%) lies in our life circumstances, being richer, poorer, more or less attractive, more or less healthy. And that leaves forty percent (40%) of happiness (and again, that number shouldn't be set in stone, but quite a large number that is under our control, under our power to change. So: how do we harness that forty percent (40%)?
Creativity might be part of the answer. I am not quite sure how many percent (and probably - maybe fortunately - we will never be sure), but there are definitely elements that contribute to happiness. Let me list the most important ones
1) Focused states lead to happiness - again and again, my colleagues mention in their interviews how much pleasure they derive from a "flow" state (as famously defined by Mihaly C ) who first studied artists. I liked the description of one of my respondents, who likened it to being in a jaccuzi.
2) Self-expression leads to happiness through meaning - recently, Roy Baumaster from Florida State University has published a controversial paper trying to disentangle what makes our lives happy and what makes them meaningful. This is a slightly complicated debate trying to separate the "pleasure happiness" from the "meaningful happiness". However, usually, the both are linked and go hand in hand.
Part of his conclusions, as described by Jill Suttie and Jason Marsh (LINK) are that Self-expression is important to meaning but not happiness. Doing things to express oneself and caring about personal and cultural identity were linked to a meaningful life but not a happy one. For example, considering oneself to be wise or creative was associated with meaning but not happiness.
3) Sense of achievement leads to happiness - researchers find that students who do have sense
of achievement both academically and socially rate themselves as happier and as having higher levels of subjective well being. Many of the people I speak to describe the sense of achievement about their creative projects - independently from any external praise or success, “just” the sense of completing a project brings pleasure.
4) Community - many of my respondents mention their creativity as part of a group of like minded inviduals. and that is the part that makes most sense to them.
What about you? What about being creative makes you happy?
Yesterday, we joined few friends and went to see classical Indian music concert in London’s Barbican Centre. Zakir Hussain, in his 60s, is described as a "classical tabla virtuoso of the highest order". On Saturday, he was accompanied by and several younger instrumentalists playing a bamboo flute, sarangi, and several types of drums.
Zakir Hussein is a virtuoso, in the sense of doing something very few people can do - in his case, moving his hands on the tabla in such a way that this produces interesting sounds. For some reason, I am usually not very impressed by virtuosity. My main pleasure and joy from the concert was the the playfulness, the dialogue between players. In front of a sold out hall of 1900 people, there was call and response between Zakir and one of his colleagues, there were laughs, and smiles and a sense of ease and fun.
To give you an idea, an example recorded in France last year is here (especially from minute 15 onwards).
Few days ago, I was working for one afternoon with a small group of international senior executives on their persuasiveness and passion while presenting. They kept referring to “rule number 6”. Intrigued, I had to ask - they shared that it is a rule the main facilitator of their week-long training, Pierre, mentioned on day 1, inspired by Benjamin Zander, an orchestra conductor, author and speaker. Obviously, this resonated enormously with the participants, from Brasil, Netherlands, China or Indonesia.
Rule number 6 is: Do not take yourself too seriously! What are rules number 1 to 5? There are no rules number 1 to 5.
I am not sure if Zakir Hussein and his colleagues know rule number 6, if that is a conscious choice. And it definitely works for me - my only complaint is that the concert was too short!
What is it that the "simple" idea of not taking ourselves too seriously resonates so much? What does it really mean "do not take yourself too seriously"? Is it because this instruction provides a "gap" in our hurried reality? Is is because it includes the assumption that we are human, imperfect, vulnerable?
Cornwall, October 6th, 2014
“Happiness project” by Gretchen Rubin is a book I came across in various airports and bookshops in the past year or two, leafed through it and left it there. I only bought it in Boston airport few weeks ago - and I am glad I did. I finished reading it yesterday and in many ways, this is an inspiring book for me at this point of my “journey” with the creativity “project”.
Gretchen is an ex-lawyer and has written books on Winston Churchill and J.F.Kennedy before, but her “Happiness project” became a bestseller - as the colorful cover says: one million copies sold.
What made it an "acceptable" self-help book for myself, is a clever mix of research, inspirational quotes and personal experience. The main heroine (Gretchen) undertakes a journey to improve her happiness in one year, by concentrating on one aspect each month (January - clutter, February - marriage, March - lighten up). What works in that wild mix? A heroine who one can identify with, a journey limited in time, the chapters. Unfortunately, the book does not include links to the research (some of it is well-known, some of it is new to me), and the first part is better than the second one, but overall, an enjoyable read with few inspiring things to remember ...
For myself, it provided encouragement - here is someone who was not an “expert on happiness”, and yet, managed over a reasonable period of time (maybe it took her more than a year) to write something which had impact for myself and for thousands, well, maybe even a million of other people.
On the more technical aspects, maybe I can be inspired by
This week, enjoying more and more our weeklong meditation retreat, and while I might “use it” to get some deeper ideas about my various project(s) (as mentioned in the previous blog), the biggest reminder is a simple one: that ultimately, I believe that there are no “points” for projects, for being productive, for answering emails, for “doing”.
Quoting Donal’s article from his new website
"We often live with a sense of tremendous speed propelled towards a vague future in the company of the twin terrors: hope and fear. Life seems always to lie in that future. We miss completely the in-dwelling life and the life around us and live in the realm of thought and projection. Thus the greater background, the space of awareness and the mystery and depth of being-in-itself is obliterated by the hard speed of thought and habit. What does it mean to be fully present in our living? Is it possible to be present to the world around us; to the wind in the trees, the bird in the air, the woman sweeping the floor and the man at the gate, to beauty and sorrow? Is it possible to be present to the internal world of thought and feeling and of speech, action and reaction? And going further, what is presence in itself, free of any object, presence without becoming?"
I find it reassuring that I do have a choice about spending time on “projects” and spending time in the “gap”.
It also reminded me of an interview I did recently for this creativity project with a friend who is a teacher and therapist and she came up with the distinction between “product creativity” and “process creativity”.
"And as with all my creative life which used to be much more actively in theatre, it was always improvisation. It's always been about process. I've never been engaged in a creative process that was about an end product only. That's never been interesting to me. And it still really isn't interesting to me. I mean, not that I don't love great pieces of art, but I know that's not what I can create. I'm compelled in the moment to be moved in a moment. That's what creativity is for me. (...) Improvisation and picking up things in a moment in just being very present has always been most interesting and I'm most good at it. And I don't know exactly why, but I'm paying extreme attention to everything all the time. And that's what, I think that's this like present process creativity."
So, on a very practical level, should I go to the next meditation session, starting in 3 minutes and be present, in the "gap", or should I continue writing this blog and aim for the end-product? Is there a formula for integrating those two?
On a more philosophical note, is creativity in this sense all pervasive? A sign of being human? A sign of being alive?
2nd of October, Cornwall
I am spending this week on a meditation retreat in a beautiful place in Cornwall, with old and new friends and a wonderful meditation teacher, Donal Creedon. Meditating for more than six hours per day is a mixture of beautiful, inspiring, deep, irritating, boring and difficult.
On the third day of the retreat, when I finally settled in after a schedule in the weeks before, have had a couple of 9 hour sleep nights, the thoughts, plans, feelings, pains, retreated slightly. And while “resting with whatever comes” in the morning meditation session, I suddenly had a few ideas about the “creativity project” I have been working on for some time now (and to which this blog is dedicated to - actually I had the idea of starting a blog in this session :-)).
It was not really meditation, maybe rather daydreaming - the fact of stopping and going into a “deeper” place has helped me come up with better ideas than if I had spent the same amount of time more "efficiently" in front of the computer or reading articles and books.
This reminded me of an article recently mentioned at Brainpickings website (a great source on creativity) referencing an article called "“Ode to Positive Constructive Daydreaming”, published in the Frontiers in Psychology.
Rebecca McMillan and Scott Kaufman write:
(...) most recent studies depict mind wandering as a costly cognitive failure with relatively few benefits (...). This perspective makes sense when mind wandering is observed by a third party and when costs are measured against externally imposed standards such as speed or accuracy of processing, reading fluency or comprehension, sustained attention, and other external metrics.
There is, however, another way of looking at mind wandering, a personal perspective, if you will. For the individual, mind wandering offers the possibility of very real, personal reward, some immediate, some more distant. These reward include self- awareness, creative incubation, improvisation and evaluation, memory consolidation, autobiographical planning, goal driven thought, future planning, retrieval of deeply personal memories, reflective consideration of the meaning of events and experiences, simulating the perspective of another person, evaluating the implications of self and others’ emotional reactions, moral reasoning, and reflective compassion.
From this personal perspective, it is much easier to understand why people are drawn to mind wandering and willing to invest nearly 50% of their waking hours engaged in it.
So next time you daydream, do not beat yourself up for that. Rather, I am asking myself the question - how to integrate those moments into the creative process? For an individual? For a creative group (i.e. a theatre company or a radio production)? Rather than sitting for 4 hours with no break in the studio, go out for some time and daydream?
Happy daydreaming to you!
Eva Blechová facilituje, koučuje, napsala několik rozhlasových her a jednu disertaci. V současné době zkoumá tvořivost a tvořivé sebevědomí. Před tím vším vedla týmy jako Ředitelka kabinetu na Ministerstvu zahraničí a byla strategický konzultant v McKinsey & Co.
o blogu/about the blog
Původně (v roce 2014) jsem psala blog (anglicky) jako sebe-povzbuzení pro psaní disertace. Teď (2017) píšu jako sebe-povzbuzení pro eventuální přetvoření disertace na knihu/pamflet/kurz/něco.