CREATIVITY AND REJECTION

Creativity can be viewed from four different perspectives: chance, genius, logic, and zeitgeist (“the spirit of the times”). Many ideas emerge by happy accident rather than by design or deliberation. Some fortunate discoveries by accident include Luigi Galvani’s animal electricity, Humphry Davy’s laughing gas anaesthesia, Alfred Nobel’s dynamite, Louis Pasteur’s vaccination, Wilhelm Roentgen's X-rays, Alexander Fleming’s Penicillin. Some discoveries are purely accidental; the discovery of Penicillin is the prime example of true serendipity. Some discoveries are not unintended but the discoverers managed to do so via some unexpected route, and usually not without considerable trial and error. It will be unfair to say that these discoverers are lucky scientists.

Creativity requires some special abilities or traits that set a genius apart from others. Genius is a ‘creative elite’. A creative person can connect the ‘seemingly dissociated’ and from it can see ‘patterns’. Creativity requires intellect to generate unusual associations and analogies, as well as rich imagery. Creative processes generally are more illogical than logical. There is a view that scientific creativity is the product of mere logic. The supporters of this view say, “Nothing really special is required”; a computer programme can duplicate the achievements of so-called geniuses. It suggests that if one can master the logic of science, creativity is assured. The zeitgeist perspective suggests that the inevitable product of scientific creativity arises from emerging social needs. This perspective reduces a genius to a “mere agent of sociocultural determinism”. Some believe that “substantially all ideas are second hand”. They are already in the air, and for someone to pick them doesn’t require great intelligence. Some cite several instances of ‘multiples’ (for example, the theory of evolution by natural selection by Darwin and Wallace almost at the same time), to support their argument that these discoveries could have been discovered only when they have been discovered.

Dean Keith Simonton says that scientific creativity is a joint product of logic, chance, genius, and zeitgeist – with chance the first among equals. But, as Mark Twain said, ideas are drawn consciously and unconsciously from various outside sources. We want to make new and original things. There are so many originals already floating around. When there is so much to learn from them, where is the time to be original? In other words, it is possible to produce the best work based on borrowed ideas. What if copying, and not originality, were the prime talent that enables us to make the work we make, asks Mark Earls. Is not imitation the greatest source of learning? Our lives depend upon copying genetic material from one generation to the other. Let us not forget that we made deliberate mistakes during copying while going from one generation to the other because we wanted to be different. Studies indicate, rejection bolsters creativity. The study highlighted the benefits of being different, and the people who have a strong “self-concept” are creatively productive in the face of rejection. “If you’re in a mindset where you don’t care what others think, you’re open to ideas that you may not be open to if you’re concerned about what other people are thinking”, researchers argue. The research recognizes the role of diversity in facilitating creativity in an organization. “For the socially rejected, creativity may be the best revenge.” Social rejection is a subjective experience. One should know the right way of managing rejection. Some people are highly sensitive to social rejection. Some feel it even when it is not present. No one likes to get social isolation but some level of rejection is an inevitable part of life. The paradox is that the need for uniqueness is also a fundamental human motive. Divergent ideas and remote associations are hallmarks of creative thinking. Many creative minds are the products of social rejection and isolation. These people are unconventionally creative. Barry Kaufman writes, “Maybe those with a high need for uniqueness are less sensitive to social rejection.”