The Secret to Creativity and Success

It is easier to enhance creativity by changing conditions in the environment than by trying to make people think more creatively. And a genuinely creative accomplishment is almost never the result of a sudden insight, a lightbulb flashing on in the dark, but comes after years of hard work…. If you do anything well, it becomes enjoyable…. To keep enjoying something, you need to increase it’s complexity. ~ Creativity by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

will smith alchemists

And as we learn in a video featuring Will Smith, Anthony Robbins, and Sir Ken Robinson, just decide who you are going to be and how you are going to do it. There is a redemptive quality to making a choice. You are not a victim of your past. A lack of resources is never the defining factor of success or failure. You were born extremely creative, the trick is to remain creative as you grow up. So make a decision and choose to do something, but be prepare to be wrong. As Sir Ken Robinson tell us “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.”
Sir Isaac Newton is considered one of the greatest scientists of all time, but he was foremost an alchemist. He wrote over a million words on alchemy and his laws of light and theory of gravity came from his alchemical work. After purchasing and studying Newton’s alchemical works in 1942, economist John Maynard Keyes opined that “Newton was not the first of the age of reason, he was the last of the magicians.”
Isaac Newton

Sir Isaac Newton surrounded by symbols of some of his greatest findings.

There are two primary ways of knowing reality:
1. The rational, deductive, argumentative, intellectual thinking that is accepted by the science and our patriarchal Western culture. The alchemists called this Solar Consciousness and assigned it many code words, such as the Sun, Sulfur, the King, the Father, Spirit, and ultimately, the One Mind of the universe. This involves so-called left-brain activity like linear thought, schematics, formulae, arguments and logic.
2. The intuitive way of thinking, also called intelligence of the heart, a non-linear, image-driven way of thinking that is an accepted tool of the arts and religion. The alchemists called the other way of knowing Lunar Consciousness. Among its many symbols are the Moon, Mercury, the Queen, the Holy Ghost, Soul, and ultimately, the One Thing of the universe. This involves so-called right-brain activity dealing with drawings, paintings, mandalas, symbols, music, and meditation.
The alchemists believed that perfection could only be achieved by working with both Solar and Lunar ways of knowing and ultimately uniting them in a third state of Stellar Consciousness.  Stellar Consciousness is a state of incorruptible wisdom symbolized by the heroic Child that resulted from the marriage of the King and Queen, as well as by Salt, Gold, the Philosopher’s Stone, the Astral Body, and of course, the Stars themselves.
Lapis Philosphicus by Isaac Newton

“Lapis Philosphicus” from a manuscript 416 by Sir Isaac Newton.

People in the United States think very differently from most of the other people in the world:

Recent psychological research suggests that people from Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic societies — WEIRD, for short — not only live differently from the vast majority of the world’s population, but think differently too.

Steve Jobs "Your Own Inner Voice"

Steve Jobs describing the power of intuition:
“The people in the Indian countryside don’t use their intellect like we do, they use their intuition instead, and their intuition is far more developed than in the rest of the world. Intuition is a very powerful thing, more powerful than intellect, in my opinion. That’s had a big impact on my work,” Jobs later recalled to Walter Issacson, the biographer.
Jobs goes on to say that Western rational thought is not an innate human characteristic but is learned. “In the villages of India, they never learned it. They learned something else, which is in some ways just as valuable but in other ways is not. That is the power of intuition and experiential wisdom,”‘ he said.
Jobs says his seven months stay in Indian villages made him “see the craziness” of the Western world as well as its capacity for rational thought. “If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is. If you try to calm it, it will only make it worse. But over time it does calm, and when it does, there’s room to hear more subtle things – that’s when your intuition starts to blossom,'” he says.

Steve Jobs "Doing Great Work"

Dorothy Sayers pointed out, “It is observable that in the passage leading up to the statement … [that man is made in the image of God], he has given no detailed information about God. Looking at man, he sees in him something essentially divine, but when we turn back to see what he says about the original upon which the ‘image’ of God was modelled, we find only the single assertion, ‘God created’. The characteristic common to God and man is apparently that: the desire and the ability to make things.”
In The Case for God, Karen Armstrong explains, if I’m asked if I have “faith in Christ”, the question is whether I agree with the proposition that Jesus of Nazareth was divine, died on a cross, and was raised from the dead, or some form of that story. In both cases, questions of “belief” and questions of “faith” require answers of thought.
Yet, as surprising as it may seem, these understandings are relatively recent. “Faith” has its etymological roots in the Greek pistis, “trust; commitment; loyalty; engagement.” Faith in God, therefore, was a trust in and loyal commitment to God. Belief in Christ was an engaged commitment to the call and ministry of Jesus; it was a commitment to do the gospel, to be a follower of Christ. In neither case were “belief” or “faith” a matter of intellectual assent.
“And all things you ask in prayer, believing [pisteuó from the root pistis], you will receive.”
~ Matthew 21:22

Great achievers of history

From a video essay about creativity we learn:
All of history’s greatest figures achieved success in almost exactly the same way. But rather than celebrating this part of the creative process we ignore it.
This missing chapter in the story of success reveals the secret to doing meaningful work. But in the modern world, full of distraction, do we have what it takes to do great things?
All of history’s greatest figures achieved success by having pistis, “trust; commitment; loyalty; engagement.”

Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

As your dreams turn into nightmares, you find yourself in the Struggle.
The Struggle is when you wonder why you started the company in the first place.
The Struggle is when your employees think you are lying and you think they may be right.
The Struggle is when food loses its taste.
The Struggle is when you don’t believe you should be CEO of your company. The Struggle is when you know that you are in over your head and you know that you cannot be replaced. The Struggle is when everybody thinks you are an idiot, but nobody will fire you. The Struggle is where self-doubt becomes self-hatred….
The Struggle is not failure, but it causes failure. Especially if you are weak. Always if you are weak.
Most people are not strong enough.
Every great entrepreneur from Steve Jobs to Mark Zuckerberg went through the Struggle and struggle they did, so you are not alone. But that does not mean that you will make it. You may not make it. That is why it is the Struggle.
The Struggle is where greatness comes from.
The Hard Thing About Hard Things
By Ben Horowitz

power concedes nothing

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald
If you want to be… successful.. read… autobiographical advice books, right? Wrong, says Roger Martin in The Opposable Mind. [B]y emulating what a great leader did in a particular situation, you’ll likely be terribly disappointed with your own results. Why? Your situation is different. Instead of focusing on what exceptional leaders do, we need to understand and emulate how they think. Successful business people engage in what Martin calls integrative thinking creatively resolving the tension in opposing models by forming entirely new and superior ones.
The accepted definition of creativity is production of something original and useful, and that’s what’s reflected in the tests. There is never one right answer. To be creative requires divergent thinking (generating many unique ideas) and then convergent thinking (combining those ideas into the best result).
[C]reativity is not about solving puzzles, divergent thinking or making remote associations but destroying old systems of thought and breaking from the status quo.
Creativity requires great listening skills.
Being creative requires you to ignore everybody:
The more ori­gi­nal your idea is, the less good advice other peo­ple will be able to give you…. You don’t know if your idea is any good the moment it’s crea­ted. Neither does anyone else…. [B]ig idea will change you. Your friends may love you, but they don’t want you to change. If you change, then their dyna­mic with you also chan­ges.
Good ideas come with a heavy bur­den. Which is why so few peo­ple have them. So few peo­ple can handle it.
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