Are They Compatible?

Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.  Erich Fromm

To decide is to have a choice, which meansthere are at least two possible options to     choose from and several possible outcomes with several probabilities. Therefore there is uncertainty. Deciding with uncertainty is unavoidable.  The theme of this blog is that decision making has become a creative art and that certainty is the antithesis of creativity. My point is that creativity and certainty are incompatible.

Creative Decision Making, Using Positive Uncertaintywas the title of my 1991 book and the theme of my writing since. In her 2010 book, The Art of Choosing, Sheena Iyengar said:Science can assist us in becoming more skillful choosers, but at its core, choice remains an art. Her quote is one of my all-time favorites. Science, indeed, has helped us become more skillful choosers. In 1991, decision making was considered to be highly scientific, rational, “by the book”. By 2010 it was agreed that total rational choosing is unlikely. I believe decision making now needs to be considered a creative art.

Creative definition: involving a lot of new ideas resulting from  originality of thought, expression. Art is defined as: A skill arising from the exercise of intuitive faculties;the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination.  Our decisions are the result of all the above..

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing                                               which ones to keep,  Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert comic strip.

What all of this says to me, of course, is how important positive uncertainty is today. I say positiveuncertainty because uncertainty is usually considered negative. And I consider positive uncertainty to be the opposite of “negative certainty”. Certainty is negative because it results in closed-mindedness. Certainty means inevitable. And certainty doesn’t  lead to creativity. Creativity comes from an open, inquiring, changing mind. You don’t change your mind if you are certain.

Creative choice today is required because we now know that rational decision making is difficult or impossible. Creativity is like inventiveness, originality, imagination. Creativity is intelligence having fun, Albert Einstein. Creative choosing is something to enjoy. Life is full of choices, unless you are certain.

Inquiry, asking questions, leads to creativity. Asking questions means there is room for choice. You can’t be creative if you don’t have choices. if you are certain, you don’t have questions.

Inquiry is fatal to certainty, Will Durant.


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