The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald
If you want to be… successful.. read… autobiographical advice books, right? Wrong, says Roger Martin in The Opposable Mind. [B]y emulating what a great leader did in a particular situation, you’ll likely be terribly disappointed with your own results. Why? Your situation is different. Instead of focusing on what exceptional leaders do, we need to understand and emulate how they think. Successful business people engage in what Martin calls integrative thinking creatively resolving the tension in opposing models by forming entirely new and superior ones.
The Opposable Mind by Roger Martin:
The mind can be used like the opposable thumb to create better newer ideas… wading into the mess to get to the peace… creating out of thin air almost options that no else thought about.
The accepted definition of creativity is production of something original and useful, and that’s what’s reflected in the tests. There is never one right answer. To be creative requires divergent thinking (generating many unique ideas) and then convergent thinking (combining those ideas into the best result).
[C]reativity is not about solving puzzles, divergent thinking or making remote associations but destroying old systems of thought and breaking from the status quo.
Creativity requires great listening skills.
Being creative requires you to ignore everybody:
The more original your idea is, the less good advice other people will be able to give you…. You don’t know if your idea is any good the moment it’s created. Neither does anyone else…. [B]ig idea will change you. Your friends may love you, but they don’t want you to change. If you change, then their dynamic with you also changes.
Good ideas come with a heavy burden. Which is why so few people have them. So few people can handle it.
People in the United States think very differently from most of the other people in the world:
Recent psychological research suggests that people from Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic societies — WEIRD, for short — not only live differently from the vast majority of the world’s population, but think differently too.
This is something that Steve Jobs learned from his trip to India:
“The people in the Indian countryside don’t use their intellect like we do, they use their intuition instead, and their intuition is far more developed than in the rest of the world. Intuition is a very powerful thing, more powerful than intellect, in my opinion. That’s had a big impact on my work,” Jobs later recalled to Walter Issacson, the biographer.Jobs goes on to say that Western rational thought is not an innate human characteristic but is learned. “In the villages of India, they never learned it. They learned something else, which is in some ways just as valuable but in other ways is not. That is the power of intuition and experiential wisdom,”‘ he said.Jobs says his seven months stay in Indian villages made him “see the craziness” of the Western world as well as its capacity for rational thought. “If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is. If you try to calm it, it will only make it worse. But over time it does calm, and when it does, there’s room to hear more subtle things – that’s when your intuition starts to blossom,'” he says.
The genius of Steve Jobs involved the integration of two models of thought to form an entirely new and superior model. This insight came not from reading a book but from the experience of being in India. “It is easier to enhance creativity by changing conditions in the environment than by trying to make people think more creatively;” and “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”