thinking on the edge: how “conceptual blending” makes you more creative
You can become someone to be reckoned with by developing your deep interests and fusing them into a Molotov cocktail.
You could change the game that way.
You can become not only the best at what you do – but the only one who does the special voodoo that you do (and anybody else would come off as a cheap imitator).
Not so long ago I wrote a post about how to find your passion(s). One of the books I referenced was Andrew Halfacre’s FIRST, KNOW WHAT YOU WANT and in the comments section Andrew himself pointed out that
the search for a single overriding passion can be unhelpful – often its a patchwork of passions which you stitch together to keep you warm.
(Cal Newport thinks the word ‘passion’ has become overplayed and overrated, so he refers to “deep interests” instead.)
This reminds me of when Steve Jobs famously urged us to “connect the dots”.
Creativity is about combining and recombining different ideas. Creativity expert Michael Michalko calls it “conceptual blending” and points out that
Creativity in all domains, including science, technology, medicine, the arts, and day-to-day living, emerges from the basic mental operation of conceptually blending dissimilar subjects.
You take two remotely different things and force a connection between them. When your imagination finds a way to fill in the gaps – to connect the dots – to blend — that’s when you come up with the unpredictable idea.
(The good news is that the mind strives to do this anyway. The best way to shake up an old pattern of thinking is to throw in a new, seemingly unrelated element. The mind will work overtime trying to fit it into that pattern — until it alters the pattern. I did this with my novel-in-progress when I tossed an image of butterflies on my storyboard. My mind found a way to weave that image into the story and the story is richer for it.)
It’s the kind of idea that doesn’t just slightly improve something, but provides a whole new level of insight, a radically altered way of thinking, about a subject, category or genre.
It takes a ho-hum mp3 player and turns it into the iPod.
It takes an adult sex doll popular in Germany and turns it into Barbie.
It takes chick lit and dark fantasy and blends them into vampire fiction.
It takes literary realism and B-movie horror and blends them into Stephen King.
It takes modern art and African masks and blends them into Picasso.
It takes spiritual principles, business principles, and a dash of maverick poetry and blends them into Danielle LaPorte.
You see where I’m going with this.
Guy Kawasaki observed that “interesting stuff happens out on the edges” – where one material meets up with something different.
One force collides with an opposing force and they don’t just connect – they transform.
What are your edges? Have you found them yet?
click to tweet: get freaky. think radical. play your edges. change the game.