Steve Jobs Comes to Lunch with Creativity

Sara Touching Grasses 1

Over lunch the other day, I was talking to a friend of mine. He's working on his PhD in the area of user experiences, mostly technology.

His opinion of what Steve Jobs did best? Take stuff that already existed and find ways to put it together. This fascinated me; after all, we think of Jobs as the one who "created" some of these technologies. My friend said it wasn't like that. Instead, Jobs often saw possibilities in disparate pre-existing technologies and put them together to create beautiful user experiences.

This reminds me of today's chapter in Mindfulness, which focuses on creativity. Creativity doesn't necessarily create out-of-nothing. It simply does a quarter-turn and says, "Ah, look at it this way."

If this sounds easy, it may not be. My friend laughed as he put his iPhone on the table and said, "Isn't it beautiful? And even when other companies had it sitting in front of them, they still couldn't create a decent knock-off. That's genius, don't you think?"

I often wonder how well we are cultivating this kind of genius in the way we teach our young people, giving them, as Langer notes, too few choices in how they interact with materials and information; I know that my own daughter is chaffing against her distance-learning program this year, because it prescribes more than she's used to (we're working on that... maybe later this week I'll share her next assignment, which she took *more* than a quarter-turn with).

How much are we willing to do the quarter turns? How much does creativity matter to us? It might mean a "bad grade" or some commercial failures along the way. Will we risk it?

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Blogger Maureen said...

What's the alternative to not risking? I'd rather try and fail, because the learning is in what doesn't work.

5:25 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

I love that question, Maureen. I wonder how many educators have asked this question lately?

5:27 PM  
Blogger Lisa notes... said...

Excellent insights--creativity doesn't necessarily mean creating out-of-nothing. And creativity may involve risks.

I've definitely experienced that when I've suggested creative (i.e. slightly different) ways of tweaking the way we do things at my church. Some ideas were taken; others were never even understood, especially by our 80-yr-old engineer types. ;-)

5:51 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

It takes a special kind of person to look at something and think--how do I make this better? Or even more interesting--how do I make this beautiful? So thankful those people are out there--making that quarter turn.

9:34 PM  
Blogger Cindee Snider Re said...

"Creativity doesn't necessarily create out-of-nothing. It simply does a quarter-turn and says, "Ah, look at it this way."

Laura, you couldn't have said it better! This is what I see in my kids, and it's a gift, a gift of vision and possibility, constantly challenging me to shift perspective, see differently, look for something unique -- just a quarter-turn and it's a whole new slate of possible.

Love, love, love your post!! It fed me today.

10:35 AM  
Blogger Kimberly said...

I used to think I was not creative at all because I rarely created something from nothing. I am really good, however, at changing and improving things to fit my needs. It has been a long road, but I finally see the value in that.

12:13 AM  

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