Mindworks’ Weblog

Thinking Matters

Tolerating ambiguity

Posted by Andrew Cooper on July 12, 2008

To be creative, you need to develop a high tolerance for ambiguity.  You don’t need to mind that the same thing can be seen in lots of different ways.  You have to like odd conjunctions.  I know that I’m in a particularly creative frame of mind just now and posting here is mostly a way of tracking and reflecting on my thinking.  It’s very self indulgent, like most blogging, but it’s quite therapeutic as well.

When I’m feeling particularly creative (and we can all feel like that, if we want to – it’s largely a matter of avoiding toxic thoughts like ‘I’m not creative’ – see the CBT posts below) – I positively embrace ambiguity.  It’s fun, and often very funny.  I like the idea of the nuclear powered teapot.  I love the fact that my acronym of the day – PWC – can mean both Proceed With Caution and Proceed Without Caution, not to mention PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

A friend of mine emailed me yesterday, after reading the nuclear powered teapot email/post, and said that men in white coats would soon be arriving to take me away.  She was, of course, pulling my leg.  Or perhaps not.  If you have a very low tolerance for ambiguity dealing with someone who is currently finding just about everything ambigous can be rather unsettling.  People don’t talk about mad inventors for nothing.

I think I have a pretty good idea of what’s going on in my head and, thanks to a few things I’ve learned over the years, I’m pretty good at controlling it and ramping it up and down when it’s useful to do so. (Hint: music.)

Anyway, if I’m going to be called a mad anything, I’d rather be called a mad innovator than a mad inventor, for reasons I explained in this post.

Incidentally, as a leftie I’m aware that some people think there’s a link between left handedness and creativity.  There’s little evidence that this is actually the case.  Or quite a lot, depending on which website you read.  Anyway, the fact that Jimi Hendrix was a leftie gives me an excuse for linking to one of my all-time favourite Youtube videos.

Sorry about that kids, showing my age.

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One Response to “Tolerating ambiguity”

  1. […] by Andrew Cooper on November 5, 2008 Following on from my earlier post about well known lefties, I was delighted to learn that the new Leader of the Free World is one of the clan.  Mind you, as […]

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