Creativity is the New Literacy: Chase Jarvis Keynote at SXSW

[alert type=”info”]More from our newest contributor, Tanner Seidel. Tanner’s focus is on business trends and their impact on young business professionals. To get him started, we sent him to SXSW. This is this is the second of a series of posts, from the event.[/alert]

creativity“A recent study of 1500 CEOs cited creativity as the #1 leadership competency. However, current education paradigms stifle creativity because our archaic system was built around farming and factory ways of life. ” – Chase Jarvis

Cars, computers, electricity, design, and literature seem to have very little in common at first glance, but at one point all of these things were considered a ridiculous waste of time within common culture. Even sitting in the session I overheard comments regarding the differences between legitimate business practices and the eccentric stereotypes that surround the creative community.

So why create? Let’s look at this in three acts.

Act 1: What is creativity?

Art is creative, of course, so was Martin Luther’s dream (which has sense become a reality and bastion of our culture), the theory of relativity itself is based in creativity. Without imagination we would have no incentive to develop new knowledge or technology. Nothing can ever be new without creativity. If a business or industry is stuck in a rut, it could be due to a lack of innovation. Creativity isn’t a talent, it’s a way of thinking, questioning, acting, and communicating. In a previous session (which I caught the tail end of) Adam Savage of Mythbusters fame compared the creative process and the scientific method to great effect.

Act 2: Stuff is Broken, inconsistencies between education and working life.

When was the last time you took 3 months away from building your future? Probably high school, if even then. Our education system is based on a calendar that was designed to be conducive to farming, which wouldn’t be a bad thing if advances in technology had eliminated the need to utilize multitudes of field hands during harvest season. The compounding issue is that schools are designed to be knowledge factories, and the human brain can only develop certain skills working in that manner. Business leaders want creative people in their organizations, but most high achieving students have to focus a great deal of their attention and efforts on satisfying “inside of the box” requirements in order to appear qualified which leaves little room for creative practice.

Act 3: Building Creative Muscle

Jarvis presented a list of small things that people can do to exercise and develop their creative prowess.

  1. Pursue creative craft. Do something creative every day.
  2. You need space. Take a walk, take a picture, give yourself some solace.
  3. Play! If you can set aside 30 minutes per day to play, you can be happier.
  4. Find your tribe. You need community to swap ideas and share with. Like minded people are invaluable.
  5. Show your work. Showing your work will make you more serious and lead to great feedback.
  6. Imperfection + Iteration. Macklemore won the most Grammys of any artist this past year. Yet in 2009 he was nervous even performing a small dinner party, reading from a piece of paper. Create, revise, repeat.
  7. Put More of You Into Your Work
  8. Doubts mean you’re doing it right. If you aren’t pushing yourself to discomfort, then you aren’t doing it right.
  9. Make Something Every Day. Make a dish, take a picture, write something. Creativity makes more creativity, this is based on neuroplasticity.
  10. Realize That You Have Nothing To Lose.

If everyone thought the same way, did the same work, and had the same strengths, then the world would be a very boring place. The American dream requires innovation in order to flourish, and innovation is driven by creativity and curiosity. Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Einstein, Galileo, and many more dared to indulge their curiosity with creativity and hard work, thus changing the world.

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