The Calculated Creative

Ranking Creative Capacity: The Hidden Hierarchy of Inventiveness

The most gifted creators are found in unexpected places, quietly working against the odds rather than hoarded among prestigious circles.

We often assume the most visibly successful people are the most creative.

But some of the most groundbreaking creativity comes from unexpected places.

Here is an alternative ranking of creative capacity that challenges conventional wisdom:

1. Children

  • Unbound by norms, conventions or "the way things are done"
  • Innately imaginative and playful, living in worlds of their own design
  • Always asking questions others overlook, subverting assumptions
  • Offer fresh perspectives and ideas unconstrained by precedent
  • Their artwork, stories, and inventions show divergent thinking
  • Have not yet conformed to societal pressures that limit expression
  • Experience the world as a blank canvas to play with rather than operate within

Despite their lack of experience, children exemplify the openness to freely explore ideas others discard as too fanciful or unrealistic. Their raw creativity should not be underestimated or dismissed simply due to their age and lack of sophistication.

2. Marginalized Communities

  • Face adversity and inequality that necessitates ingenious solutions
  • Draw on diverse cultural perspectives incorporating both struggle and hope
  • Have nothing to lose by defying conventions and expectations
  • Unrecognized talents emerge as means to surmount obstacles
  • Necessity of overcoming drives invention of new creative approaches
  • Finding joy in creation despite lack of external reward or recognition

Those denied seats at the table in mainstream spaces have found alternative ways to contribute. Their creativity is fueled by both the unjust struggles they face and the resilient determination to be heard regardless.

3. Elderly People

  • Posses wisdom and insight accumulated from rich tapestries of life experiences
  • Unburdened by career ambitions or financial pressures to be commercially successful
  • Able to defy social conventions and expectations for the old to make way rather than create
  • Appreciate creativity for its own sake rather than to prove themselves
  • Explore meaning through different mediums with patience and care
  • Quiet mastery of crafts and art forms passed down over generations

In their later years, the elderly have little left to prove. This grants them freedom to create purely for the joy of it without regard for fame or fortune. Their creativity often manifests more quietly but runs deep and impactful.

4. Celebrated "Geniuses"

  • Recognized creative talents who achieve renown in particular domains
  • Benefit from wealth/fame offering exposure, resources and reputation
  • Credentials afford them social license and encouragement to create without restraint
  • Stand out as superstars against backdrop of lesser known peers
  • Rareified circles limit input and feedback from wider perspectives
  • Burdened by high expectations and pressure to keep innovating

While clearly masters in their fields, famous innovators stand on the shoulders of countless unseen creators without status or acclaim. We should not assume celebrity or cult of personality automatically equates to superior creativity or talent.


The Takeaway

The most gifted creators are found in unexpected places, quietly working against the odds rather than hoarded among prestigious circles.

An optimistic perspective reveals creative geniuses all around us.

We need only to notice.

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