What it means to have a creative mind

In his tremendously great article for A List Apart, strategist Nishant Kothary explores three different categories of personalities for responding to life’s clues of what’s real and what’s not. Kothary writes:

1. Victim – We see the clues as attacks. Consequently, we lose sight of the long-term, and focus on the short-term by either fleeing or fighting back without rhyme or reason.

2. Apprentice – We are fairly good at embracing the clues, and turning them into meaningful outcomes. But since we don’t have all of the necessary experience and knowledge, we don’t always succeed.

3. Master – We are experts at recognizing the clues. We are able to draw from a vast base of experience and knowledge in the context at hand to turn most situations to our favor.

Creatives naturally fall into the second and third categories: seeing various aspects of reality as fuel for creation and problem solving.

Agnes Gund, chairman of the International Council of The Museum of Modern Art writes on Huffington Post about how how creativity is used every day. Something that immediately struck me about Gund’s article was when she echoed Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Professor Howard Gardner. Gardner believes in three types of thinkers as well:

“He describes three kinds of ‘minds’ that matter: First, the 'disciplined mind,’ that masters information; Second, the 'synthesizing mind,’ that utilizes information; Third, the 'creative mind’ – innovative, inventive, bold, the mind able to start ideas and make change.”

The similarities in Kothary’s and Gardner/Gund’s breakdowns of thinking are striking.

A creative mind is the one that sees information – particularly from the world around it – and relates it to their experiences and existing knowledge in order to create. Create what exactly? Solutions to problems, expressions for feelings and situations, objects that inspire and motivate, innovations, and nearly anything else that utilizes knowledge.

So where am I going with this?

I’m hoping it serves as a reflection more than anything. That you’ll look inward and ask yourself which of the three types of “minds” you have.

Are you naturally turned-off by the world and it’s occasionally dark or pressing nature? Or are you more of a mastermind that takes knowledge and experiences and uses them to create?