So you think you're creative

Photo by fmpgoh
Photo by fmpgoh

According to MBTI statistics(1), about 60 % of the US population have Sensing preferences. That means taking in information through the 5 senses, usually in concrete, detailed, present-focused ways. In type language, its opposite preference Intuiting has often been described with terms like future-focused, comfortable with ideas, themes, patterns. Creativity is often inferred from these descriptions, and here's why I think there's more to creativity than ideas. 

Creativity to me means bringing something forth that is new, an unexpected combination, something that may not be alive but that makes me feel alive, infuses my senses, makes me think, feel, be. A blog post, a poem, a picture, a sculpture that touches my soul.

Creativity is often called "right-brain", because the left hemisphere supposedly deals more in concretes. From Dario's research we've learned that neatly dividing the brain into four quadrants of Sensing, Intuiting, Thinking, and Feeling is simplistic and, I might add, disrespectful of the complexities that are human nature.

In Type language, every function comes in two ways or attitudes. Let's look at Intuiting. We all have both of these functions: Introverted Intuiting Ni and Extraverted Intuiting Ne. Different types use them in different ways, and we all have them.

What is Ni?

Think of a big library with millions of clips and notes that you've accumulated throughout your whole life. The librarian has given up on the index card system a long time ago, and yet magically, new information still gets filed where it belongs. Ni takes a lot of knowledge and stores it until you need it again. You won't know where it came from, but it's there, it feels right, and it often is right, too. You use Ni when you're foreseeing the future, when you just know, when you see how this or that is going to play out. When you grasp the meaning of something and can summarize its essence.

What is Ne?

To stay with the library image, Ne is the scribbler that takes your notes down and gets more and more excited the more he scribbles. New ideas, connections, relationships, themes, patterns keep bubbling up and it's hard to keep 'em down! They're so exciting! You use Ne when you're envisioning the future, when you're improving on an idea, and find new connections.

Knowing the significance and having thoughts and ideas about how to improve the future isn't creativity. It is probably the first part of the process, but it's not actual creation in the sense of the word. The differentiating factor is actually doing something with those ideas.

And that's where Sensing and other functions come in.

Albert Einstein (INTP):

"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

In my opinion, creativity is a combination of all functions. There isn't one without the other. More on that tomorrow.

(1) MBTI(r) Type Tables International, CPP Inc 2009, Schaubhut, Nancy A. and Thompson, Richard C.

Image by glans galore, Flickr, Creative Commons License.