11 Common Characteristics of Successful Creatives


I’m just reading Mihaly Csikszentimihalyi’s (pronounced Chick-sent-mi-hi) thoughts on being creative.  His paper Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Inventions (free to download as a word document), is the culmination of 30 years of research into creativity.  His work dispels several myths about being creative and highlights the following common features:-

Successful creatives…

  1. …are largely happy with their lives and their creative output – not tortured souls
  2. …are abundant in their curiosity and drive
  3. …take their intuition seriously – looking for patterns or connections where others see confusion
  4. …are sometimes seen as arrogant but really they are so excited about their work they want to focus on it
  5. …gravitate to centres where their interests can be met, where they can hang out with like-minded people and their work appreciated
  6. …find beautiful or inspiring environments better for being creative rather than attending a creativity seminar
  7. …were often not very successful at school
  8. …largely had little contact with their father, but often had a very involved loving mother who expected a lot from them
  9. …fall mostly into two camps: a) poor or disadvantaged but pushed themselves beyond their initial start in life OR  b)grew up in a family of …intellectuals, researchers, professionals, writers, musicians etc.  Only 10% were from the middle class
  10. …are both humble and proud which a selfless devotion to their domain of expertise
  11. …don’t have the same personality – although most creatives are thought to have a complex personality

What do you think?  Does this ring true for you? Any surprises?