the_evil_bastard

This year I’ve been on something of a strange and alarming journey. I’ve remarked time and again that the world seems to have stopped making sense and, this morning, as I awake to news that Donald Trump has been elected to the White House I once again asked myself, in true Trump fashion, what the hell is going on.

I once again asked myself, in true Trump fashion, what the hell is going on.

It’s very easy to imagine, when the world stops making sense, that you are the sane individual keeping your head when all about you are losing theirs. There is a comfort in this idea but I’m presently in no mood to comfort myself. In fact, I’ve come to see that my quest for comfort, to create a world in my mind that suits my needs, is precisely why I feel so lost.

You see, if the world has stopped making sense then it is hardly likely that it is the world that is faulty. The fact is that if your assumptions no longer explain reality it is your assumptions that must change.

If your assumptions no longer explain reality it is your assumptions that must changeClick To Tweet

For politicos this means coming to terms with a new form of politics, letting go of the outmoded constructs that have left them shocked over and over as pollsters fail to anticipate how voters will behave and as the well-groomed, well-qualified and seemingly reasonable choices are passed over, and expert advice ignored. We may call it post-factual politics but what matters is that it isn’t the politics of old. A failure to adapt to this reality is why the UK is on course to leave the European Union, against the advice of almost every significant element of the establishment, and America is following its first black president with a man endorsed by the KKK who has been caught publicly boasting of sexual assault.

But failure to adapt to reality isn’t just a problem for politicians.

But failure to adapt to reality isn’t just a problem for politicians. Whenever we seek to solve problems, if we don’t begin with reality, we are immediately lost.

Among the many reasons that new endeavours fail is the simple challenge that they begin with incorrect assumptions, faulty models of reality. We see this every week on TV talent shows as people, convinced by their echo chambers that they have star potential, go on to humiliate themselves in front of millions. We also see it all over websites like Kickstarter or shows like Dragons Den, where entrepreneurs confidently display their amazing ideas which, when exposed to the wider world, are shown to solve problems that nobody really has.

Worst of all, these products that solve a non-existent problem are often the most exciting to innovation seeking people who are always on the lookout for something to make people say wow. Prime amongst these in recent memory is Google Glass; a product so poorly conceived that it spawned an insulting name for those who use it, Glassholes, before it was generally available to buy!

Products that solve a non-existent problem are often the most exciting

Google Glass failed because of a poorly understood concept of reality. They began with a technology they thought was clever and allowed their assumptions about the world to blind them to the fact that, clever and interesting as it was, their product was a bad idea. Now, ask yourself, in this crazy world where nothing seems to make sense anymore, how sure are you about your own assumptions?

In this world where nothing seems to make sense anymore, how sure are you about your assumptions?Click To Tweet

People enjoy characterising creativity as if it is something akin to magic, existing in its own world divorced from the harsh realities of life. They imagine that the perfect environment for creative thinking is one without boundaries and without constraints. This is nonsense. Creativity lives in the real world. Real information, reliable assumptions and reasonable models are the oxygen of creativity. Without these you may well produce something remarkable – like Google Glass – but it certainly won’t succeed beyond that point.

Real information, reliable assumptions and reasonable models are the oxygen of creativity.

I do feel that the world has stopped making sense. I could wallow in that and waste my energy wishing that the world would more perfectly fit my beliefs. But that is not the response befitting someone who aspires to living a creative life.

If you wish to be creative, if you intend to make things happen in the world, you don’t get the luxury of pretending that the world is as you would prefer. You have to stare into reality as it is, because that’s where creativity happens.

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This year I've been on something of a strange and alarming journey. I've remarked time and again that the world seems to have stopped making sense and, this morning, as I awake to news that Donald Trump has been elected to the White House I once again asked myself,...
Aran Rees
Founder and Coach at Sabre Tooth Panda
Aran is a creativity coach, facilitator and communicator, founder of Sabre Tooth Panda and creator of No Wrong Answers: the hypothetical quiz. He believes that expressing creativity is all about how you and those around you relate to creativity both at an emotional and intellectual level. He helps his clients to get cosy with creativity to solve big problems and have more fun.