Archive for September, 2009

every element at the right place

every element at the right place

In his book about creativity and creative people (see book shelf) Csikszentmihalyi affirms that “(…) it is possible to single out seven major elements in the social milieu that help make creative contributions possible: training, expectations, resources, recognition, hope, opportunity, and reward. Some of these are direct responsibilities of the field, others depend on the broader social system. If our argument is correct, then creativity can be substantially increased by making sure that society provides these opportunities more widely.” (p.330)

It is impossible to disagree with this statement- these 7 elements seem in fact necessary to the development of creative people as such. But if you think about it, isn’t it what most of us need to be satisfied in our professional lives?

Would you be able to do your job if no one showed you how to do it, if you didn’t go to the appropriate school, university, attend the courses, etc.? Would you be so ambitious if you knew that no one expects anything from you? How do you feel when your boss never recognizes your good performance? If there wasn’t any reward (such as salary or bonuses), would you still go and work?

Most of us eventually find professions and employers who provide the 7 elements that allow us to feel satisfied, fulfilled and happy with what we do. But I believe that if people are so often unhappy, the reason is that more than one of this element is lacking. Of course, it is also a personal question of what is really important to us- one will put “recognition” as the most important factor, while another person can need in the first place “expectations” or “training”.

Seven elements that can make most of us happy at work. Seven simple elements. Why is it then so hard to find not a perfect, but at least a good job?

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new design for my website

I just finished (almost) redesigning my website http://www.coachingyounow.com/

I will appreciate all the feedback and suggestions 🙂 Thank you!

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experience life

experience life

I am reading now a book written by M. Csikszentmihalyi, a psychologist and professor of an impressive reputation, the author of “Flow” and “Creativity (…)”. The book is not as much about the creativity itself, although the author looks for patterns that lead some of the people (that I would qualify of genius or at least extremely talented) to be creative and therefore able of great achievements. He had the opportunity to interview individuals whose work is world wildly recognized and rewarded by prizes like Nobel’s or Pulitzer. There are researchers, mathematicians, physicists, writers, etc.

This is a very interesting and useful lecture that I am also reading with pleasure, but I can’t agree with one particular statement of the author. “(…) the reigning stereotype of the tortured genius is to large extent a myth created by Romantic ideology and supported by evidence from isolated and- one hopes- atypical historical periods. In other words, if Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy showed more than their share of pathology it was due less to the requirements of their creative work than to the personal sufferings caused by the unhealthful conditions of a Russian society nearing collapse. (…)” (p.19)

Therefore, according to these words, Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy would have been equally genius even if they wouldn’t suffer because of what was happening in Russia. I am not so sure if they would have been so creative and wrote those remarkable novels if it wasn’t for suffering, if it wasn’t for the difficulties they were encountering, for knowing how pain feels, for wanting to understand human behavior and looking for answers. They would still become writers, probably, but would their work be so fascinating? I guess we don’t have and won’t have the answer.

My point here is that I strongly believe that what is called today a “wealthy” society does more damage than good on a creative level. Each day more and more people chose TV instead of a book, we live easy, we live fast, we want what is effortless and often superficial.

Therefore, a child growing in a wealthy society who is developing his perception of the world and his unique thoughts about it, is less likely to be curious, less stimulated on an intellectual level, less likely to want to explore it because he explores it by watching DVD’s and maybe, if lucky, Discovery Channel instead of brainwashing tv shows. If his family is more or less a “normal” one, where he isn’t exposed to any difficulty like a parent’s alcoholism, someone’s health problems, he will just live in this pink, false and easy world of the future to be “normal”, ordinary person. He will not know the taste of pain, he will not grow as strong as he could. Schools, especially the public ones, do not encourage creativity so much because it means more work for them, for the teachers, the adults. Wealthy societies are a place which is everything but creativity and curiosity stimulating.

I believe that one has to experience life- its beauty and ugliness- to contribute on a greatest level to it. There are lots of factors that are necessary so a person can achieve something extraordinary and Csikszentmihalyi explains them all. My point, nevertheless, is that beside some exceptions (and there will be less and less exceptions as we allow children to become stupid because of their parents and teachers laziness) a wealthy society and a healthy family is not so much able to give birth to a new Dostoyevsky.

There is no good way to approach this subject. Stupid people will have more or less stupid kids or children even more stupid than their parents. Just as will the lazy or too busy to be good parents ones. Experiencing life, again, its beauty and ugliness, is the way to stimulate a mind. Politicians, parents, teachers could also take more care of their kids- less tv and more books, less indoor activities and more outdoor excursions, etc. Teachers who do teach in a passionate and remarkable way should get some recognition. A society can be wealthy but does it has to mean that it produces brainless people? Then what kind of future will this “great” society have? Why do best novelist write inspiring novels only if they are able to live and experience life 100%? How would they be able to describe a country if they had never seen it or at least read about it? How can they talk about colours, smells, feelings that they never experienced? One thing is sure, our kids won’t find out the taste of life while watching Big Brother.

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