John Cleese on "How to be Creative"

I'm normally allergic to people on stage preaching creativity. But I'm so glad I made an exception for John Cleese.

Here in a talk from 1991, Cleese outlines his model for how creativity happens (and how to kill it, if you so wish). Along the way, he shows how great a speaker he is.

Creativity is not a talent. It is a way of operating.

A brief outline of his take:

The most creative people have simply acquired a facility for getting themselves into a particular mood – a way of operating – which allowed their natural creativity to function… the ability to play. Indeed the most creative people are childlike, playing with ideas for no immediate practical purpose but just for enjoyment.

People at work operate in one of two modes: open and closed. Creativity can not happen in the closed mode, which is where we usually live. The closed mode is important for execution, once you’ve decided on a path in the open mode.

Creativity is absolutely unrelated to IQ.

There are certain things you can do to get yourself into the open mode. You need five things:

Physical separation from the demands that keep you in the closed mode

Create that space for a specific, predetermined period

Take the time to persevere past the discomfort that comes from not having a solution yet (ask “When does this decision have to be made?”)

Don’t be afraid that moving in some direction will be “wrong” (“you can’t be spontaneous with reason”); while you’re being creative, there is no “wrong”

Humor is an essential part of spontaneity and playfulness, and doesn’t remove from the seriousness of the work.

Absolutely recommended viewing in full. C'mon, it's John Cleese!