She has hair the shade of a fleeting sunset as it slips into the mystery beyond the horizon and a mind to woo with ardor anyone who can enchant her with genius. She ravages deadlines, devours expectations, and will act when she pleases. And not a moment before.
She touches only the gifted and elite, the special and supreme. For the mere masses, she cannot be tamed. She cannot be captured. Her tail is far too slippery, her feet far too high above the earth. She is the Muse. And she is beholden to no man. Unless that man is David Burkus, who thinks she is nonsense.
Referring to the act of creative thought as a mythological goddess isn’t as far off as you might think. In his book Myths of Creativity: The Truth About How Innovative Companies and People Generate Great Ideas, Burkus traces the folklore attitude surrounding creative thought back to the ancient Greeks. They believed in The Muse. Or at least a divine source of nature who touched only favored individuals, elevating them to hero status.
These god chosen beings became the aristocracy. The virtuosos. The “creatives” of society. They had been touched by an inspirational power that could neither be seen nor controlled. Bunk, says Burkus.
Creativity doesn't come on a lightning strike. Creative thought, like the mortal that it is, comes through a process.
David Burkus is assistant professor of management at the College of Business at Oral Roberts University, where he teaches courses on creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship, and organizational behavior. He is the founder and editor of LDRLB, an online publication that shares insights from research on leadership, innovation, and strategy.