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Inspiration: John Cleese on How to Be Creative


Legendary writer and actor John Cleese is known more for his sense of humor than almost any other attribute. But as he demonstrates brilliantly in the above video, he also has an inspirational outlook and deep interest in the subject of creativity.

In the half hour speech, Cleese talks about creativity and how it relates to both ‘open’ and ‘closed’ modes of thinking, each of which come with their own benefits and results. The open mode allows us to be curious, ‘playful’ and toy with ideas until we latch on to one… the closed mode allows us to be deliberate and followthrough with that idea once we’ve got it.

Creativity, it seems, requires the ability to switch between these modes quickly and easily — to alternate from playful creative thinking to deliberate directed action and back again at will… something the most creative among us are very skilled at.


Of course, this is only part of what Cleese is getting at. To try and summarize or give an adequate overview of the full 30-minute speech would be as difficult as talking about creativity is in the first place.

And so, instead, we’ll leave you with a worthwhile quote about what creativity isn’t, and just let Cleese take it from there.

Creativity is not a talent, it is a way of operating. [It] is not an ability you either have or do not have.

(h/t Reddit)