The Leonardo Trait – Subtrait One: Deep and Inherent Creativity [Book Excerpt]

EXTREME Creativity is the defining characteristic of Leonardos - The Leonardo Trait - Angie Dixon

The Five Subtraits Series: Part 1

There are five weeks in March this year and five subtraits of The Leonardo Trait. Coincidence? I think not! So I’ve decided to reprint the five subtraits directly from the third edition, The Leonardo Trait: How Creative People Can Turn Creative Eccentricity into a Life You Love.

So here we go….

[In case I wasn’t clear, the below is an excerpt from The Leonardo Trait: How Creative People Can Turn Creative Eccentricity into a Life You Love.]

The first sub-trait of Leonardos is creativity. I’m not just talking about being able to draw a recognizable picture of a thumb in Pictionary. With Leonardos, creativity is the first quality people name when they think of that person. “She’s very creative.”

I once was challenged to make a smoking jacket for a friend who continually dropped ashes on herself. No one but me took the challenge seriously. I’m not allowed near sewing machines because I might sew my thumb to my lips.

But I made the smoking jacket. Out of kitchen trash bags. And I made a sash to go with it.

That’s the kind of creativity Leonardos have. We think of the completely unexpected, and we make it happen.

Now, don’t start thinking that because you would never have thought of a trash bag smoking jacket, you’re not a Leonardo. Leonardos’ creativity may display classically, like a passion for writing or art. It may be quirky, like making smoking jackets out of garbage bags. It could be a gift for physics or auto mechanics.

The thing is, whatever the gift is, the Leonardo is very innovative with it. He doesn’t fix the car, he turns it into a submarine. She doesn’t paint a dog, she paints a herd of sheep chasing a Border Collie.

It’s the depth and the innovation of the creativity that amazes me about Leonardos. And I’m not alone in recognizing these qualities, or in being fascinated by them.

Dr. Michael Kirton, in his work on creativity, describes two kinds of creativity: Adaptive/Resourceful or Innovative/Original Creativity (Kirton, 1994). Every Leonardo I’ve ever known is extremely skillful at both kinds of creativity, and can make, do, find or fix just about anything. Except that some of us are not allowed around anything that might catch fire, explode or glue our fingers together.

I won’t say it’s always a piece of cake being this creative. Sometimes people think I’m odd. I am odd, but I don’t like people to think that. Growing up was very difficult, because I was, quite frankly, a weird kid.

I laugh at things most people wouldn’t find amusing. I draw connections people can’t follow, and when I explain them, they still can’t understand how I got there. One time my best friend said she needed to replace the battery in her cordless phone. I said, “That reminds me, I need a new clock radio.” She usually doesn’t ask, but this time she had to know how I made that connection. “Electronics department at Wal-Mart.” “Oh.”

It can be socially awkward. Sometimes it can seem like I do too much and overwhelm people because I have so many ideas, and implement them so fast, and do so much. I’ve only recently come to really appreciate that who I am is okay, considering that I am extremely…unconventional.

So, there are positives and negatives to being this deeply creative.

But in the end, creativity is perhaps the most valuable gift we can have. It makes us who we are. It makes us interesting. It makes us able to learn more, do more and be more than we otherwise could.

And it’s fun.

Subtrait One | Subtrait Two | Subtrait Three | Subtrait Four | Subtrait Five

Pancake Image Courtesy of Gratisography Image created by Angie Dixon.