The Intuitive Compass

Why the best decisions balance reason and instinct.

Steve Jobs: How Does Creative Genius Manifest?

How does creative genius manifest?

Yesterday the world lost a man of conviction, imagination, and courage. I am of course referring to Steve Jobs who changed the life of so many, literally turned them into disciples (and for some of us into apostles, even) of the Apple way of living and who created the most valuable brand in the world.

No later than last night at Bob Hope Airpot in Burbank, CA on my way to Phoenix AZ an officer who was looking through my bag saw my iPhone, iPod, iPad and MacBook Air. He said to me : "You love Apple, don't you?" - "Yes I do!" I replied. He added: "I'm wondering whether I should get the iPhone G4S... It's now available with Sprint..." The conversation went on for a few minutes about Apple and the praise of the many wonders it created. Then when I arrived at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix my friend's 17 year old daughter who picked me up at the airport told me: "I'm going to get the new iPhone... They're available with Sprint now." Then again over dinner, my friend's wife, Michele said: "I can't wait to have my G4S with Sprint..." It seems like Apple was on everyone's mind last night, for happy and quite sad reasons all at once.

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Apple official announcement said: "Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius." Yes I agree with Apple, the world has lost an amazing human being, a man of influence, a visionary and a creative genius. When I read their eulogy online two questions came immediately to my mind: how does creative genius happen? How can anyone at Apple access his or her own creative genius to ensure the success of the company of Cupertino, CA in the future?

Of course, facing these questions, many would first argue that we're not all born equal and that some are born more intelligent than others. Some (among the most intelligent people have heard or read) would argue the exact opposite and say that there are so many forms of intelligence that it is simply a crime to compare people's levels of intelligence. Quite frankly I feel much more comfortable with the second take on intelligence because I think it's much closer to and more respectful of human nature; it's also much more creative, productive and humane and opens many new doors to more efficient pedagogy and better schools...

So when trying to answer the two questions I raised : "how does creative genius manifest?" and "how can anyone at Apple access his or her own creative genius to help the company succeed without Steve Jobs?" I will gladly set aside the idea of comparing people's level of intelligence and focus on researching the conditions that are conducive to creative genius and make us receptive to it.

Creative genius is literally the ability to give birth to new ideas or solutions. What's essential to understand here is that creative genius comes from our instinct at least as much as it comes from our mind. I know it is probably a shocking statement to most but what's in our mind is known to us and nothing new lives there... What's in our unconscious mind on the contrary is unknown to us and therefore new to us. The way to get to it consists in disengaging from our conscious mind by giving up the control of reason and logic over any situation. When we do so we open to our feelings and to our emotions, we open to the reservoir of knowledge stored in our body. Every scientific researcher, athlete or performing artist knows this. To break a new record, reach the next level of virtuosity or come up with a breakthrough concept you have to practice and/or open up emotionally and let loose mentally to access the original knowledge you're seeking. It cannot be about the mind alone. It is the result of a complex interaction between mind, body and sprit and it is an art form. The kind of art form Steve Jobs was a master at. Whether you're involved in scientific research, musical arts, competitive sports, high tech innovation, business management or corporate leadership this insight opens a door to the level of creative genius Steve Jobs showed over and over again in his career. Therein lies the challenge of Apple. How can Apple invent a work culture that will foster this kind of instinctual understanding of creative genius? The model I developed - The Intuitive CompassTM - is designed to help companies like Apple foster a culture of creative genius.

The Intuitive Compass™ points the way to the south west quadrant where instinct and play come together to reveal what the mind and the conventional priority put on financial results usually hide from us. To discover more about this model, you can go online and download for free the first chapter of my book which explains the essential role of play in the success of creative organizations today: http://www.facebook.com/francischolle?sk=app_7146470109
By the way you will also be automatically entered in a sweepstake to win an iPad2. I told you I love Apple and I can’t resist to share my passion for its products!

Francis P. Cholle is the author of The Intuitive Compass (Wiley/Jossey Bass, October 2011).

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