I was reading Eugene’s explanation about “small c” and “big C” creativity as used by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

To some degree, we all are creative in the small-c way, doing things that enrich our own lives but do not receive recognition from the outside world. Big-c creativity is different — it produces ideas that “push our species ahead”.

Big-C creativity is rare. Defining it is impossible, because every definition seems to over- or underconstrain something essential to creativity from our own experience. But Csikszentmihalyi asserted that society values Creativity for its ability to transform people and cultures, and that it drives creative people to “pursue to completion” the creative act.

How creativity and ideas affect the world

He goes on to mention ten characteristics of personalities of creative individuals (some surprising points) and finally ends with a question that I ponder often : “If the world is changed by a rather small number of contributors, where does that leave the rest of us?”

This is one of those questions that we could probably never answer, but I still wonder what role each individual plays in this world. When we think “individuals”, we think of people who have changed other people and the world in a profound way (whether positive or negative) such as Mahatma Gandhi or Hitler, but what about those we never hear of? What is their “role”? To consume? Or to just be?

Coming back to creativity, why is it so difficult to define it? What makes one person more “creative” than the other?

My view is that it comes down to “thinking differently” and “making things happen”. It is this combination that is potent. Leave out one of these factors, and that potent is lost.

4 thoughts on “Creativity

  1. Hey, you instigated me on my thinking track. I don’t think creativity is a total ‘one-upmanship’ phenomenon. But yes, some people enjoy more of it and that’s thanks to their mental accumen.
    As far as the other small-c people go, maybe they are strong on the logical thinking fold.
    But I also believe in Gerhard Lenz’s (remember!!) theory of the world as a place where only the achievers and the practical dreamers should exist. Maybe thats a cold way of looking at it, but you know me better than that.

    From someone like ME, who’s always had such a huge crush on Hitler, you can’t expect anything different.

  2. We’ll as far my views: I strongly believe
    1. small-c way of creations will open the door for Big-C creation.
    2. Being creative is the result of “desire to play around with things that challenges”. (I really do not support the quote “making things happen” — as at all time it might not work)

    What makes one person more “creative� than the other?
    The ability of a person to rollback to the initial state after accompalishing some thing, is what I think makes him more creative than other. (By inital state – I refer to a the state of mind which really wants to learn and get the things done).

  3. ‘c’ creativity is something inherent in every one to a certain extent. When someone is writing a poem, writing a small piece of software, making a painting, stitching a cloth or cooking some food he/she is engaging in ‘c’ creativity.

    I don’t understand what exactly he means by ‘C’ creativity, but if the intended meaning is creating those things that change the lives of people in a large scale, then it is not something inherent to the person alone, but something that is determined by the passage of time also. Circumstances also makes a difference.

    It is more interesting to think of the higher end of ‘C’ creativity, i.e that of pure genius. It took a genius like Einstein to link together gravity with the curvature of 3-d spaces, why none else thought about it before? Creativity of geniuses are often the results of quantum leaps in ideas, which normally defy the traditional beliefs. However, ‘C’ creativity in every field is not the result of pure genius, but mostly genius mixed with a lot of inspiration and hard-work. As someone said “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration”!

    I am always intrigued by the spheres of human creativity which sometimes push certain people to produce absolutely beautiful things – Einstein’s theory of relativity, Beethoven’s Sonatas, Da Vinci’s paintings, Michel Angelo’s sculptures, Stradivarius’ violins all fall under this category. How and why people are inspired to produce such things of beauty, i.e that moment of creation will remain a mystery. I think that it is almost like a divine intervention.


  4. @Vini: How do you draw the line between achievers and dreamers? I feel achievers have to be dreamers at one point, they simply couldn’t have just done something without pondering about it!

    @Prasad: I guess you’re talking more about the inquisitiveness of a person? Or the nature of ‘hacking’ if you will.

    @Anand: Beautifully said. You’ve just elaborated my two sentences in a great way :) . It was [Thomas Alva Edison]( (he once held 1093 patents!) who said “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration”.

    I guess we should include “inspiration” and relatedly, “moment of glory” along with “thinking differentlyâ€? and “making things happenâ€?.


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