People Don’t Like Creativity? Tell Me About It!

I was interested to learn, via @martinertl, of an article on Slate.com by Jessica Olien (@jessicaolien) entitled Inside the Box: People Actually Don’t Like Creativity (here). I recommend that you read the entire article, but here are some bits that caught my eye and seemed relevant to what I’m trying to do:

This is the thing about creativity that is rarely acknowledged: Most people don’t actually like it. Studies confirm what many creative people have suspected all along: People are biased against creative thinking, despite all of their insistence otherwise.

[Barry Staw, a researcher at the University of California–Berkeley business school,] says most people are risk-averse. He refers to them as satisfiers. “As much as we celebrate independence in Western cultures, there is an awful lot of pressure to conform,” he says. Satisfiers avoid stirring things up, even if it means forsaking the truth or rejecting a good idea.

Most people agree that what distinguishes those who become famously creative is their resilience. While creativity at times is very rewarding, it is not about happiness. Staw says a successful creative person is someone “who can survive conformity pressures and be impervious to social pressure.”

Now some of you are saying to yourselves, What a egomaniac! What a cry-baby! I’m willing to cop to a healthy self-regard, but otherwise I do think this article applies to what I do. I’m making good progress, but I still encounter plenty of resistance, and I see no basis for thinking that it has anything to do with shortcomings in what I have to offer.

Of course, there’s nothing I can do about this other than persevere, and I accept that with equanimity. But I thought it worth identifying the dynamic involved.

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.