Creativity and imagination are essential skills for us humans to progress and flourish. I see a suppression and neglect of creative skills in education and corporations. My research is about to understand what creativity is and, where it comes from. Also, I investigate how consciousness links to creativity and, why it matters.
Since childhood, I found weird experiences and phenomena very interesting. That is to say, weird for others but not for me. For example a precognitive experience was part of life. The problem was how other people reacted to this. As a result, my early youth and teen-age years felt very repressive as I could not express myself the way I wanted. When I Look back upon this period I see a germination of opportunities and problems.
The weird experiences became charged as I suppressed them. In other words, I was hiding them for others. This repression added an extra dimension to the experience: more power. But I also lacked the tools to check if my precognitive experiences were for real, fantasies, or a mix of those. There were a few exceptions though and more about those in a future post.
My first conscious memory is from when I was two years old. I remember sitting in the baby pram in the front garden of our home on Oudeschild, Texel in the Netherlands. In front of our house stood a food lorry (SRV wagen) with the door open and, I assume my mother was inside the lorry. There was music playing but over time I might have mixed up two songs. In other words, I do not know for sure what was the music that I heard.
The experiences in my youth contributed to my creativity and imagination. I could visualize in my mind how a drawing should look like. Over time my hand-eye coordination improved and my drawing skills improved. I was not a Rembrandt van Rijn and do not misunderstand me. The surrounding people enjoyed my enthusiasm to draw and create. This enthusiasm resulted in going to various art schools. At these school I learned to criticize my work and understand why I do the things I do.
During this period critical thinking began to mix with intuition. My fellow students were to a large degree creative and imaginative too. But no one spoke about where creativity and imagination comes from. Nor did the professors and everything was about reasoning. To learn to reason is a good skill for sure. But the education lacked a certain balance. It was as if imagination is a process of simple steps with a guaranteed outcome.
More recent times
When I began to teach at the university in Helsinki, I realized something lacks. My students looked for processes, rules to abide and emotional safety. No one asked “what if” or “why not”. I saw the same repressed beings suppressing their creativity. I had no tools at the time to help them. But, I began to feel the urge to understand what creativity is and, its link with life. The teaching opportunities went and corporate life arrived. For about 20 years I created products and services for others. In hind sight I can say the students were magically creative compared to the managers I met. Meanwhile, this difference began to fascinate me.
Those who manage creative people and its processes paid lip service in most cases. Innovation workshops by MBA-ers are rule rather than exception. And innovation workshops I saw very often advertised. But creativity and imagination are the cornerstone of most producing and servicing organizations. It is a skill that you need to progress and flourish as an organization.
Parallel to my work life, I used most of my free time to read about creativity and weird experiences. I still do and I have added my old artistic passions to the mix as well. My brain does not well deal with remembering what other people once said. I still learn the discipline to write everything of interest down. As a result I do not make a good academic. My research is ad-hoc, pragmatic and diverse at the same time. When I write, paint or am creative in other ways I let the process happen. But spend also time on the registration of why things happen. Then I check with other people, like scientist, and learn about their ideas.
In the past 25 years, I have been fortunate to have had the change to teach creative people. Especially the last 5 years I had the chance to teach at art schools. There I could teach and test creativity stimulating processes, with magnificent results. Of course when you see how a large group of people do things that should not be possible, you would too. In my workshops I focus on the question of where imagination comes from and how to trigger it. One of my theories is that a great idea shows up like a shining beacon in the future. That is to say, the great idea attracts attention and creates positive emotions. If you have a chance to use precognition or another form of getting future data, let’s do it.
My research is about what creativity is and where it comes from and it is based on these assumptions:
- time is not linear, we experience it as linear
- the past is a given with some freedom to explore alternatives
- the future is probabilistic and you can investigate it
- what you do now has effect in the future, big things have big effects
- what you intent now is visible as a probable outcome in the future, and also its effect on people
- attention grabbing objects or thoughts in the future you can sense and describe now