In the Wallas stage model, (2) creative insights and illuminations may be explained by a process consisting of 5 stages:
- preparation (preparatory work on a problem that focuses the individual’s mind on the problem and explores the problem’s dimensions),
- incubation (where the problem is internalized into the unconscious mind and nothing appears externally to be happening),
- intimation (the creative person gets a “feeling” that a solution is on its way),
- illumination or insight (where the creative idea bursts forth from its preconscious processing into conscious awareness); and
- verification (where the idea is consciously verified, elaborated, and then applied).
Most people associates creativity with the fields of art and literature. In these fields, originality is considered to be a sufficient condition for creativity, unlike other fields where both originality and appropriateness are necessary (3). This is the point where creativity and conformity are helping each other. The preparation part and the verification part help the creative idea to be implemented into our reality.
We often are creative in our free time, drawing, painting or writing something. If our personal need is to be in a creative job than we should choose a working culture that tolerates creativity. In Mike’s case there was no match between the personal need and the working culture. Also in the workplace we should be able to implement our creative ideas or at least communicate it to others who would be able to implement it.
Incubation period is a rest period from the problem. Sleep is a very effective way to be in incubation. This is when our brain is working in a different mode and information is reinterpreted. Walking or doing exercises also helps to be in an incubator mode, because where creative adaptation begins that is the very same place where movements and thoughts are controlled in our brain.
Regarding Wallas process of creativity, intimation is a very important face. Coach can help to create a peaceful, “intimate” atmosphere to encourage the client to experience his feelings about the topic, to notice what answer emerges from his inner space. This is the step where he can have deeper understanding of the whole complexity of the topic or situation. Even though, it is difficult to spell out. Sometimes drawing the feelings can help the client, or in other cases freeing from boundaries starting sentences with “if only…” or imagining “if anything can happen” also could give release. Those people who are very strong in evaluating things they have difficulty to free themselves out from the well-known reality. Also who have low self-confident can have problems to dare to dream. Dreaming is a free place for creating something without evaluating or judging.
The illumination or insight part is where our feelings are translated for our conscious mind. Meditation helps unconscious to communicate with our conscious part.
When the client is aware of his idea, another hard part starts, to translate it to the world, to formulate it. Writing or drawing in charts helps to formulize the idea for others. If someone has problem with that, the coach can help to find support system, others who are good at formulizing thoughts.
Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi of Chicago University describes “the creation” as a state of ‘flow’. This involves “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost. You perform at your best in this state because you are able to focus all of your efforts, resources and abilities on the tasks at hand. While you are sufficiently motivated to resist competing temptations, you are not so stressed that anxieties and distractions interfere with clear thought. This is an intensely creative, efficient and satisfying state of mind”.
There is, however, a dark side of creativity. In other words, by encouraging creativity we are encouraging a departure from society’s existing norms and values. Expectation of conformity runs contrary to the spirit of creativity. Nevertheless, employers are increasingly valuing creative skills. The ability to “think outside the box” is highly sought after. However, the above-mentioned paradox may well imply that firms communicate valuing to think outside the box while maintaining traditional, hierarchical organization structures in which individual creativity is not rewarded. In Mike’s case it became clear to him that the working culture was not really supporting him.
Being creative is our natural way of living if we have strong desire to be creative at our workplace too we have to be aware that originality is not enough but we need to be actionable (3). While creativity helped by our inner motivation, frustration can come from the situation when we are creative, full of ideas but our environment can’t receive it and don’t award it. If the nature of our work, the customer demands, working culture is basically open for creativity the problem can be our limitation, such as self-confidence and need for conformity. Discovering our underling beliefs helps to find our own way to communicate and present our ideas. Selling the idea to the management is a complex skill and may be the best way is to ask help from other colleagues to do this. Building support system is always a prospering strategy in a business environment. Also presenting, communicating and formulating the idea in the language that used by our environment, we make the people around us comfortable, and this helps them to reward us for our creativity. We help others to smooth our creation into the “normal” way of life. This is a win-win situation and makes us happier.
From the individual personal growth perspective creativity is crucial, but the self-need is different in each of us. It is our responsibility towards us to discover our need for both creativity and conformity.
Wallas, Art of Thought 1926
Amabile, 1998; Sullivan and Harper, 2009
Csíkszentmihályi, Mihály (1996). Creativity:Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention. Harper Collins