As I approach a landmark birthday with little money and a lack of entrée to the highest social circles of my profession, I can tell myself that I'm just too darn creative to make it big. That's what Jessica Olien's essay in Slate implies:
This is the thing about creativity that is rarely acknowledged: Most people don’t actually like it. Studies confirm what many creative people have suspected all along: People are biased against creative thinking, despite all of their insistence otherwise.
“We think of creative people in a heroic manner, and we celebrate them, but the thing we celebrate is the after-effect,” says Barry Staw, a researcher at the University of California–Berkeley business school who specializes in creativity.
Staw says most people are risk-averse. He refers to them as satisfiers. “As much as we celebrate independence in Western cultures, there is an awful lot of pressure to conform,” he says. Satisfiers avoid stirring things up, even if it means forsaking the truth or rejecting a good idea.
That sounds right to me, but you'll have to get me pretty drunk before I'll give any examples.
Coincidentally, my last post for America magazine is about satisficing in politics, which is one letter off but pretty close to what Olien is writing about: the tendency of people to pick the first "good enough" option that's presented to them. The subtle difference is that it means that people who are already in a position of power can sometimes implement creative ideas. But it's not necessarily the best way to reach the top.
Photo: underappreciated television genius Ernie Kovacs