Read the wrong books on creativity and watch out, you may end up like Don Quixote valiantly but vainly slashing his spear at windmills

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Even the priest who came to Don Quixote’s house and helped his niece and housekeeper to get rid of and burn all the rubbish books he read on chivalry couldn’t stop his folly.

In my search to understand creativity and innovation I must have bought a small mountain of books. Each one of them seemed to trot out familiar themes on creativity and innovation but there were a few that approached it from a different and sensible way. A sucker for punishment, I stumbled on a new book on creativity and innovation and acquired it. 

But I haven’t had the temerity to read it yet after recently getting stuck into Cervantes “Don Quixote”. I am reminded by the foolish exploits of The Ingenious Nobleman Sir Quixote of La Mancha because of the vast number of books he read on chivalry. Even the priest who came to Don Quixote’s house and helped his niece and housekeeper to get rid of and burn all the rubbish books he read on chivalry couldn’t stop the folly of Don Quixote.

I think of the books on creativity and innovation, read but not opened again that lie on my shelves.

One book was from a so-called creative guru who comes up with wild ideas every day but which amount to candy floss.

Another creatvity book that lies dormant is jam packed with so-called creativity tools that are more appropriate for a professor of business or a corporate innovation officer rather than the ordinary person who wishes to generate new ideas, evaluate them and implement them.

Then they are loads of books written by people who have produced them more as calling cards for their seminars and training. Even some academics, professors, fall into this category. Well researched, same bibliographies and long indices — but again short of anything that can help you in the real world.

One thing that caught my eye with the new book I have acquired on creativity is the argument about your creativity versus creativity aimed at commercial ends. The author believes that creativity and innovation in the world as been mainly directed at fostering commercialism. This is not a bad thing overall but has put creativity in a straitjacket.

The author quotes that creative book, full with wisdom, by Lewis Carroll, “Through the Looking Glass:

I can’t believe that!” said Alice.

“Can’t you?” the queen said in a pitying tone. “Try again, draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.”

Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said. “One can’t believe impossible things.”

“I dare say you haven’t had much practice,” said the queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” ? Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There

Should we really abandon thinking about our wild ideas?

By the way, Cervantes “Don Quixote makes a good read and fires your imagination. I read once that it is the kind of book that you want to read in youth, middle age and old age.

A book on creative action that I can, however, recommend, is “Breakthrough Ideas”, a practical, hands-on manual that will help anyone in the real world to generate ideas, evaluate them and put them into action.

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