Taking the risky path leads to more ideas

To invoke a little creativity into anything we do, we simply need to add a bit of chaos.

A blank page represents order. It’s only when the chaos of color and strokes and texture are added that we begin to make art.

The idea that feels familiar or obvious is one of order and logic (that’s why it feels familiar). It’s when we add a touch of randomness, chaos, to the idea that it becomes something new and creative.

Predictable is order, unfamiliar is chaos. The light us order, shadow chaos. Routine is order, adventure is chaos.

Our brains like order far more than chaos. We use order to anticipate the future and in doing so preserve and comfort ourselves. What to wear tomorrow, how we’re going to represent ourselves in the big meeting, where to go for dinner. We are anticipatory animals because that’s what helps ensures we are safe and healthy and happy tomorrow, as well as a means for educating and preserving the next generation.

But creativity can’t exist in the world of order.

Creativity requires something unexpected and different, by definition. The sudden surprise of spilled paint, the road construction exposing us to a new way of getting where we’re going, the delight of a risky gamble paying off.

Chaos is why most people shy away from creativity rather than embrace it, it tends to threaten our notion of order and predictability.

A clean sheet of paper is easier to approach than one covered in colorful scribbles. Walking into a presentation you’ve prepared for is far easier to do than one you haven’t prepared at all for. But the safety and comfort of each also means we might be missing out on a better opportunity.

The road we can see clearly ahead appears much safer and reliable than the one we can’t see. We know what we’re going to get from the clear path, while the dark one is a risk.

Of course maybe the route we can’t see clearly down is also the one that’s quickest and with better scenery. Maybe it’s the path we should be taking after-all, we don’t know unless we’re brave enough to take it.

That’s creativity: taking the risky path because we believe it provides more than the clear one, simply by being unknown.