2015-09-08 16:49

creative development and enterprise

I watched this video recommended from Facebook by Ernesto.

Learning how to learn | Barbara Oakley | TEDxOaklandUniversity

How am I solving problems and getting better insight? What is methods can I use?

The number one issue I see is: Consistently getting into the same space -into the problem space. Feeling the same constrains of being stuck, grasping the importance of the questions. Being able to ask the important questions, to grok the questions and see their relationship to the problem, to be in a place to perceive insight to surpass the problem, to overcome the limiting conditions or perceptions and act and think in new ways.

Something I have found incredibly helpful is being able to get into that problem space while sleeping or upon waking.

I have also begun to seriously ask myself the question: what am I thinking?”

What are my thoughts about? what is the subject matter of the particular thoughts I am spending time on? Sati what are my thoughts attending to? Is their a similarity of motifs or themes between my different thoughts? Am I able to range widely, either thematically or subject wise, and still orient around the problem space? Do the enterprises I participate in, orient around a common motif, or around an underlying methodological difficulty or approach?

Seeing the same processes in different domains or the same domain in different processes is the key method to making dialectic (tri, quad) progress- it is learning and not just knowledge acquisition. Couple this learning with a practice- practical methods of action, expression, and implementation - leads to learning which transforms - ie. development.

Sharing this developmental enterprise is what I’m talking about. There has to be a combination of focus and effort and a wide ranging exploration. A coalescing and manifestation of co-occurrent processes and phenomena. Plus some bit of do-nothingness or napping that is interrupted just enough that apprehension/recognition and creative development and discovery happens. (this is the Edison keys dropping example)

I don’t think it’s possible to positively share in the developmental enterprise without all it’s features being explicitly acknowledged (as we do with childhood development) and in a kind of shared culture of acceptance among the participants. The creative way of living must be honored. Its spontaneity, novelty, and the dedicated focus of thoughts needed to grow and make creative work, and also the necessity of the do-nothingness.

What is true for ourselves as individual creatives needs to be true in a group setting. There is regular effort, which can be structured to some degree. And then there is loving and living ones effort, which carries a developmental component, which requires levels of un-structured effort. For a group to successfully function and gel requires the same thing, regular effort and loving and living that effort. Plus a willingness and perseverance to let the group find its own rhythm and interaction of its members, without tolerating dysfunction. Just as members have to keep tweaking their own situation to find out how they work best and to find the kinds of working that are best through changing conditions and development the members of a group or partnership have to do that with each other: find times and interactions and activities that enhance their sharing, their bond, their enterprise, their development and yes, and their do-nothingness.

If you strip out expectations for outcomes, like in the pomodoro technique, and make effort for focused action I make more progress. This may be true for groups and interpersonal efforts too. We need focused efforts, exploration, and do nothing that orient around a problem space. Allowing this freedom and promoting these varied activities feels more rewarding. It seems like a happier way to live.

Promoting these activities and freedom in a shared enterprise may prosper and build stronger bonds, especially when the interactions include affection, attraction, and physicality. but if we focus exclusively on outcomes, the shared enterprise, the creative process of the group will become static and cardboard. I don’t know if this is tangent to the Netflix job model as shared in this podcast from NPR.

I feel like there is a place for long-term shared enterprise. This is more than respect, business etiquitte, not getting into the blame game, separation of duties, etc. This is about engaging in a shared enterprise as a group, and not as disparate participants.

But maybe the idea of a long-term shared creative enterprise is a childish fantasy. My own experience seems to put it in the fantasy camp. And maybe that’s why as I wrote the end of this I kept having flashbacks to X-men covers from high school. Where the x-men were lounging by the pool having a day off from saving the world.

I kept wondering why am I remembering these covers? And it made me realize that creative life, the creative and discovery enterprise reflects the motifs of the hero journey. If a group is to share the same creative and discovery enterprise, that group must embody the hero journey as well. Is that a fantasy? I don’t know.

But for me, I’m guessing there is a kind of abandoning of the hero model as people age, take jobs, get married, and have children. Our society and culture encourages the abandonment of the hero journey. At least it sure does in Utah. This culture actively promotes other models, of obedience, and social acceptance and conformity. This culture, RELIGIOUSLY, promotes the concept of fear from non-conformity. That tribal fear so eloquently described by Tim Urban’s Wait but Why? - Taming the Mammoth: Why You Should Stop Caring What Other People Think

And I’m so guilty of promoting this cultural bias. Yet it’s clear other models could have been just successful and economically productive for me. I can rattle of a litany of creative endeavor I have abandoned, primarily out of fear of not fitting in, or being accepted. And after the initial misgivings, my interests turned elsewhwere… only to see almost identical goals manifest by others whose primary talent lay in just sticking with the work.

There is something powerful about Sisu. And I guess the point I’m making is that honoring the spirit of sisu is the best effort of all. And if we honor the sisu creative pursuit as teams, and partners, and groups, we can truly go far.


I made a note to myself as I finished the first draft of this blog post, about vision and problem spaces.

One way we make progress in development and creative work is to face and stay focused in the problem space. But that isn’t enough. We must also imagine what the future looks like if our vision were true (not if it came true). I don’t mean the kind of heroic fantasy that motivates us to tackle impossible and novel problems. I mean the kind of imagination of honestly considering a future that is as we would expect it to be. That exercise reveals pathways to work backwards through to the current situation. Something heroically moving forward does not show us.

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