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Get Into Your Creative Flow

Lesson 3 of 32

What is Creativity

Steven Kotler

Get Into Your Creative Flow

Steven Kotler

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Lesson Info

3. What is Creativity

Lesson Info

What is Creativity

Alright, so I want to start with a little bit of cognitive literacy and I want to start with, "What is not creativity?" Now, before we get into that, I want to mention that my wife and I run an animal sanctuary and my wife is in charge of medical diagnostics. So whenever the dogs get sick, she's the one who has to figure it out. It is one of the most creative processes I've ever seen. She's diagnosing illnesses in dogs. It's a massively creative process. The reason I'm mentioning this is there is nothing that I can think of that is not creative. Maybe if you're an accountant it's a little different. Especially if you're a tax accountant. Creativity tends to get you arrested but besides that, right? Not the world's most creative profession unless you want to go to jail. Other than that there is no such thing as a non creative profession as far as I can tell, alright? It all requires creativity. More importantly, across the boards, 21st century skills, which are the skills we need to thr...

ive in this current century, creativity tops every single list. Most important skill for CEOs, most important skill for kids. Across the boards, creativity is how we succeed in the 21st century. That said, what is not creativity? A lot of what you've probably heard about the neuroscience of creativity is probably wrong. So let's dispel some of those notions. That's where we're gonna start. Right brain, left brain? No such thing. There is no creative side to the brain. What we know about creativity is that it involves a bunch of different networks in the brain. So when we are being creative, we are actually using more of our brain. And we'll go deeper into this, but the whole notion that there's a right brain and it's the creative brain, and there's a left brain and it's the logical brain, totally ridiculous. Putting it in context, when I am writing a paragraph, right? Maybe coming up with what's inside the paragraph conceptually, that's a right brain, more intuitive process. But ordering my sentences, which is my logical progression, that is left brain logical creativity and you're going to need both sides of it. So no such thing as right brain or left brain. Divulge that notion. That was the wrong word but we'll just skip over that. (audience laughing) Convergent thinking, which is when ideas come together, logical linear, often considered not creative. Divergent thinking, wild, far-flung, pattern recognition, often considered creative, once again, no such thing. So what creativity actually is that for the best of what we know, is an interplay of three different brain networks. The default node network, the executive attention network, and the salience network. The default mode network is sometimes called the imagination network. Default node network is when you're daydreaming, when ideas are sort of linking together in a creative way and you're not too attached to how they're doing, rumination. This is what the default mode network does. It's a tricky network. It is high default mode network activity, very highly correlated with creativity. Also very highly correlated with depression. So we're gonna talk about how to use rumination; how to use the default mode network positively without getting sucked into all the negativity. And it's tricky. The executive attention network is what allows you to focus. It's what everybody's using right now to listen to me. When we are creative, because the executive attention network also includes your inner critic, that nagging, always on, defeat us, voice in your head, it gets turned down a little bit. Not all the way. You still, obviously, need to focus to be creative, but it actually dials down whereas the default mode network gets more active. Salience. You guys know that means? Salience basically means paying attention. So the salience network, information comes into the brain; tons of it. The salience network matches that incoming information with what it is that you're doing, the task at hand. So it tells you what to pay attention to based on the stuff that's coming into your brain. Interestingly, with creatives, one of the things that they find across the boards with the creative personality type, is creatives are less able to filter out stimuli. So extreme sensitivity to noise, to light, to sound, anything like that. It's because the salience network in creatives doesn't quite work like it works in everybody else. You have a difficult time filtering out more stimulation. That's fantastic because the more novel information coming into the brain, that's the seed kernel of creativity. We'll come back to all this stuff. This is just a quick and dirty place to start.

Class Description

Do you want to learn more about flow? Take the Free Flow Profile to find out if you are a Deep Thinker, Crowd Pleaser, Hard Charger, or Flow Goer.

If creativity is already core to your life, then this program is perfect for you. This could mean you’re a copywriter at an ad agency, a scientist hunting a breakthrough, a coder designing software, an entrepreneur dreaming up your next start-up, a writer aching to finish that novel or a landscape painter trapped in the life of an accountant — all that matters is that generating novel ideas (and putting those ideas out in the world in some form or another) is core to your life and purpose.

Why Does “Flow for Creatives” even matter?

  • You keep losing the battle to be innovative in the rush to be productive.

  • You have writer’s block or coder’s block or painter’s block and the thing you used to love most in your life has become a source of pain and frustration.

  • You have trouble managing your emotions and fear keeps getting in the way of your good ideas.

  • You have trouble sustaining momentum on projects and tend to quit early rather than to finish what you started.

  • You have no idea how to gain access to groundbreaking insights and ideas when you need them most.

  • You don’t actually believe creativity is trainable.

  • You’re numbing yourself with substances and placating yourself with distractions as a way to ignore the fact that you’re not living up to your creative potential.

  • You get lost in the fixing to get ready phase, and never get down to business.

  • You keep bashing into creative walls but never breaking thru.

  • Your emotions keeping getting in the way of your desired outcomes. Fear of failure keeps you from committing to projects; perfectionism keeps you from making your work public.

Flow For Creatives can help.

It’s like an inspiration turbo-boost training program. It’s practical, experiential and experimental. You learn a new idea about Flow and Creativity, apply it to whatever problem you’re trying to solve, see what happens, then make it your own.

And, did you know…

  • When in Flow, your creative problem-solving abilities can spike by over 400 percent.

  • Research done at Harvard shows that the heightened creativity produced by Flow can outlast the state by a day, sometimes two—suggesting that Flow actually trains the brain to think more creatively over the long haul.

  • Creatives are more prone to depression than most people, but an understanding of the process can protect against this liability.

  • Creativity tops the list of 21st-century skills—meaning those skills that are essential for thriving in the modern world—yet 75 percent of people think they’re not living up to their creative potential.

  • The baseline brainwave state produced by Flow is also the ready condition for “Ah-ha” insight, meaning being in the zone makes you primed for breakthrough insight.

  • Fear blocks creativity, while Flow resets the nervous system, calming us down so we can avoid burnout and gain access to much-needed insight.

  • Unless you know how to train the brain properly, most people tap into their deepest creative potential at age 5.

  • Frustration is actually a built-in component of the creative process—it’s a sign that you’re moving in the right direction not a sign that you’re going about it all wrong.

Life is better than ever and we are feeling worse than evener. We are neurotic, stressed, unmotivated and it’s literally killing us. This class is for anyone that is serious about staying in their highest performing state.

*Warning: this instructor occasionally uses strong language. Viewer discretion advised*

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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Jeremy Richardson

I've watched and participated in many webinars and online classes, and this was by far one of the best. The depth and breadth of information that Steven covers in this class is not only really important, but he structures it in a way that is engaging and most importantly: PRACTICAL. I'm coming out of this with a clear list of ways to improve my ability to get into Flow while accomplishing all of my creative endeavors. I highly recommend this to anyone who would like to do the same!


This is amazing. Steven is hitting so many pain point for me about reframing my fear. He is also an amazing presenter. Thank you, Steven! I am excited, I am excited, I am excited!

Isaac Freed

Utterly mind blowing. Wow. A few hours listening to Steven Kotler felt more like a few days. He has done his research, and offers so much practical application advice that I will review this material several times. Well worth it, and highly recommended. Thank you, Creative Live!