4 lessons in creativity: Julie Burstein

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In November, radio host Julie Burstein did a TED Talk. TED Talks, for those of you who don’t know, are various speakers giving “talks” (or speeches) on various topics. The tagline on the website is “Great talks to stir your curiosity.” Burstein discussed four lessons she’s learned from various artists about what spurs creativity.

1)    Experience
2)    Challenge
3)    Limitation
4)    Loss

Experience: Burstein explained that for experience, we must pay attention to the world around us. We must embrace experience, which is “hard to do when we have a lighted rectangle in our pocket that takes all our focus.”

Challenge: She said that the artists she’s spoken with have said that some of their best work comes out of the parts of their lives that have been the most difficult. As hard as it is, we must embrace challenge and change in our lives.

Limitation: Richard Serra, a modern art sculptor, said he once saw a painting that moved him so much, he knew he would never be able to do what that particular artist did. When he returned home, he threw all his supplies away and said he would not be a painter. This did not, however, discourage him from giving up on art. He continued playing around with art, and soon became a sculptor with work showcased in the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim in New York City. Burstein explained that artists speak about how pushing upon the limits of what they can and can’t do helps them find their own voice.




Loss: The last lesson – or embrace, as Burstein calls it – that we must allow ourselves to experience in order to help our creativity is loss. It is the hardest, the oldest and “the most constant of human embraces.” We must see the world and take what we hope for while facing rejection, heartbreak, war, and death, and turning that into something that we can use to help funnel our creativity.

Burstein ended the talk with something I thought resonated very well. She said, “We all wrestle with experience and challenge, limits, and loss.” Creativity is essential to all of us whether we’re scientists, parents, artists, teachers, entrepreneurs, or students. It doesn’t matter if we’re a writer or a painter or a sculptor or a photographer, but we can all use these lessons to help bring out whatever we need for our creativity to flourish.

Watch the TED talk below 

[youtube height=”500″ width=”800″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sY0Pf_pfqCI[/youtube]

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