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Top 5 TED Talks on Creativity

Top 5 TED Talks on Creativity

Here are our top 5 TED talks on creativity, with some notes on how these great presentations connect with your spiritual life as well as your creative life. ENJOY!

1) Do Schools Kill Creativity? by Sir Ken Robinson

This TED talk has millions of views for good reason. This is one of my favorites. His sense of humor and insight are refreshing. This talk was given in 2006, and even more true today than then. Sadly, he died only a few months ago, and we didn’t hear much about it due to the crazy year this has been.

One of his key statements here: “Creativity is as important as literacy.”
This is essential if we are going to equip children and other adults for the future we are facing.

The problem in our educational system is that we are getting educated out of creativity. Education has the same hierarchy in all countries, and the arts are last. As he says astutely, we educate kids from the waist up and slightly to one side. The whole system was invented in the 19th century to meet the needs of the industrial revolution. We are living in a very different era.

This is devastating to our culture.

But consider how devastating it has been to our churches, and our theology. It gives favor to the ivory tower theologians, and neglects the creatives in the pew. His wisdom is needed in the church as much as in the broader culture.

2) Embrace the Near Win, by Sarah Lewis

This one blew me away. A fascinating talk about the power of the ‘near win’, in those moments where we almost capture the essence of what we were aiming for. She flips the idea that these ‘near misses’ are a sign of our failure, and illustrates how they are actually what drive us to keep improving and master our craft. She gives an interesting illustration of the artist Paul Cezanne. He was so unsure his works were finished that he only signed 10% of his works, yet they became celebrated. Likewise, Kafka was so sure he did not hit the mark with his writing that he wanted all of his diaries burned upon his death.

When you think your work is falling so far short, take a listen to Sarah’s talk. Those times when you feel like you are missing the mark are not proof you are an imposter, but rather the impetus to drive you forward in the pursuit of mastery. She has a great quote of Michelangelo, “Lord, grant that I desire more than I can accomplish” Her talk echoes the desire of King David who kept wanting to “sing a new song unto the Lord.”

This should resonate with our entire lives as Christians because, although we are thankful Christ came and died for us, we still long for the second coming. Our very spirit keeps longing for that perfection we will only experience in the New Jerusalem. Our pursuit of great art echoes the great desire of our life.

3) How to Build your Creative Confidence, by David Kelley – Founder of IDEO

Ever wonder if you are creative enough? Good enough?

Listen to this talk by David Kelley. His passion is that we stop separating people up as creatives and non-creatives. Not surprisingly, he recalls childhood frustration, discouraging teachers and the fear of judgment. These are common among creatives. If that was not your experience, take a minute and write a thank you note to that teacher or parent who encouraged you.

He was drawn to the concept guided mastery, originated by psychologist Albert Bandura of Stanford University. Listen to him tell stories of people overcoming fear and embracing something new and creative in a very short time. His hope and mission is to give that same transformation to people who have creative gifts, but were shut down and told they do not.

He helps people gain confidence – helping them see that anyone can develop their creativity. Anyone can grow in new ways from fear to familiarity, build confidence and develop new skills such as creativity.

Our journey as believers is from fear to freedom. Fear of condemnation, shame, guilt and being criticized. Kelley’s illustrations should point to the spiritual transformation Jesus came to offer us in all areas of life. The freedom is there if we take time to take the baby steps in our faith and our creative walk.

4) The Power of Time Off, by Stefan Sagmeister

Stefan runs a design studio in New York City and is quite successful. He has designed everything from museums to famous CD covers for The Rolling Stones, Lou Reed, and many others. What did he do when he saw his team’s creativity stalling out?

His solution was for his whole company to take a year off every 7 years. He states that he is not religious and never mentions the Biblical passages that point to a sabbatical year, yet uses the word sabbatical.

In case it’s not on the tip of your tongue, here is the passage: Exodus 23:10-11

“For six years you are to sow your fields and harvest the crops, but during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused.”

All truth is God’s truth, and Stefan stumbled upon a principle of God’s from over 2,000 years ago – That rest is important for work. The return on the investment was greater creativity for his team. He also started meditating, which makes sense if he does not see himself as spiritual. Meditating is the world’s yearning for the peace and connection we find with God through prayer.

5) Tales of Creativity and Play, by Tim Brown of IDEO

Tim, like his partner David Kelley, is also inspired by Albert Bandura of Stanford. One of the major problems creatives face is the fear of the opinions of our colleagues and friends. We weren’t always this way. Kids feel secure to play and try new risks. Thus, the question is, how do we establish that security within a corporate/creative culture?

We crave an environment that is comfortable and reminds us of the security of friendship. This requires a sense of playfulness, freedom and joy. Watch this talk and rediscover the need for play and pretend in your ‘serious’ work.

How does this connect with our spiritual life? Even when the disciples insisted on being serious, Jesus always welcomed children. This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from C.S. Lewis:

“When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”

Childlike play comes easier to those who know they are loved by God, as his dear child. It is in embracing our adoption as God’s beloved children wherein we find freedom to rejoice and play in his presence. If our theology demands we always be serious, we have missed the very heart of God, and it will cripple our creative calling.

He offers some great examples of ways to get out of our head and see things from a new perspective.

So there you have our top 5 TED talks on creativity. Let us know if there is one you love that we missed.

What to do now? Go! Create! Play! Know that you are loved by God. Experience the freedom of forgiveness and the freedom of a loving friend and audience – of which God is both.

Copyright © 2020 Joel & Michelle Pelsue. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission.

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