The Arrogance of Creativity

Creativity is a phenomenon that most people think eludes them with a vengeance. It’s incredibly easy to execute an idea that’s already been planned out by someone. It’s monumentally difficult to come up with that idea in the first place.

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Creative individuals turn novel and imaginative ideas into actual content. They have an interesting ability to perceive the world in mind bending ways. Connecting two unrelated entities and finding patterns seems effortless.

To come across people that are extremely creative is to also come across an intriguing feature of the human psyche: Arrogance.

“I won’t be happy till I’m as famous as God.” – Madonna

“You need a big ego to be an artist” ~ Damien Hirst

“Man, I’m the No. 1 living and breathing rock star. I am Axl Rose; I am Jim Morrison; I am Jimi Hendrix” – Kanye West

“There are some days when I think I’m going to die from an overdose of satisfaction” – Salvador Dali

The most notable strides in human history were made by individuals that defied what were thought to be absolute truths, challenging the very fabric of reality in the process. These creative geniuses almost always have a reputation for arrogance. But why so?

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It becomes threateningly difficult to defend a unique position while social and moral coercions are trying to push you back. Imagine the mental strength needed to take on the world with a novel idea. Only by vehemently protecting an idea, shielding it from lashes of criticism and unapologetically trusting the potential of that idea, would it ever be given the chance to become something more.

You probably now realize that we come across creative individuals all the time. They are sometimes difficult to work with, bringing in their perspective into every situation you face together. Never accepting things as they exist. To accept something the way it is means that it needs no improvement.

A Study called “Cantankerous creativity : Honesty-Humility, Agreeableness, and the HEXACO structure of creative achievement” recently explored the concept.

They found that people lower in Honesty-Humility had higher creativity scores, consistent with past work on arrogance and pretentiousness among creative people. This is proof that the concept is more than a mere anecdote.

Another study: “Narcissism and the art market performance” explored the artworks of more narcissistic artists and found that they have higher market prices, higher estimates from auction houses, and higher out-performance compared to the art market index.

This suggests that people also sit up and take notice.

So what do we learn from all this?

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Perhaps now, we can be a little more accommodating of arrogance around us with the hopes that it can bring around revolution.

Or maybe we can take it as a reminder to push a little (or much more) harder to get that one idea that’s been calmly tugging at us, off the ground.

Be crazy, be offensive and be wild about it. You might just change the world.


See the World in a Different Light,

Signing Off

Shawn Kenneth Fernandes

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