School
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Steve Jobs, Frank Lloyd Wright, Dave Brubeck, Vincent Van Gogh, Ernest Hemingway, Martin Scorcese, Ansel Adams.

You’d like to think you breathe the same air as these creative geniuses–at least some of the time, right?

It turns out that you probably don’t, and the two major obstacles are the places you spend most of your life: school and work.

Jessica Olien, writing in Slate, offers this:

In the United States we are raised to appreciate the accomplishments of inventors and thinkers—creative people whose ideas have transformed our world. We celebrate the famously imaginative, the greatest artists and innovators from Van Gogh to Steve Jobs. Viewing the world creatively is supposed to be an asset, even a virtue. Online job boards burst with ads recruiting “idea people” and “out of the box” thinkers. We are taught that our own creativity will be celebrated as well, and that if we have good ideas, we will succeed.

It’s all a lie. This is the thing about creativity that is rarely acknowledged: Most people don’t actually like it. Studies confirm what many creative people have suspected all along: People are biased against creative thinking, despite all of their insistence otherwise.

If you’ve tried to push a new idea through your organization, you’ve probably faced this resistance. And anyone who’s been through the school system in the United States (I can’t speak for schools elsewhere) has experienced the factory-like approach to education. Ken Robinson’s outstanding TED talk on the creative desert in schools highlights the problems many of us have faced.

So what do you do?

Most people are inclined to conform, and new ideas make you different, an outlier. Don’t be surprised when you face resistance, take risks, and keep trying.

To get something new done you have to be stubborn and focused, the the point that others might find unreasonable.
–Jeff Bezos