Tuesday, January 13, 2009
I read a blog recently by creativity coach Eric Maisel about the traits of the Creative Personality: Confidence, Depth of Knowledge, Patience, and Social Unconcern.
The first three seemed obvious. But, social UNconcern? Was that a typo? Once I read the anecdote I understood.
A man known for his creativity came upon a group of people who appeared to be dancing. As he got closer, he saw that they were swatting at a swarm of gnats tormenting them. “Help us!” they cried. The man approached but kept sufficient distance that the gnats ignored him. “We’ve tried everything!” they cried. “But we can’t keep these gnats off us!” The man studied their situation and noticed that in the midst of the suffering assembly was a pile of dried dog dung, dried out from the recent hot weather. The man knew that in other cultures people used the smoke from smoldering dung to keep away flies, mosquitoes, and gnats. “Light that dried dog dung!” the man shouted. “Its smoke will repel the gnats!” “Ugh” the crowd cried as one. “We would never touch dried dog dung! Ugh! What would people think of us if they saw us picking up poop!” The man repeated his message. Again the crowd refused, citing how others would view them. Finally the man shook his head. “Then the gnats win,” he said, turning away and wandering off to attend to his creative work.
Wow. What would I have done in that situation? Made a speech about the ends and the means, offered to build a machine to do the job without touching the poop, offered to spend a Saturday helping clean things up ... I never know when to show UNconcern. I always do my best to answer a call for help, but what I don't do is accept when it's time to move on.
Do you know when to quit "helping" or do you sacrifice creative time by hanging on too long?