The blog post that follows has been written in preparation for the publication of my second book on the history of my ancestor Jeanne Chevalier. This post provides some background material to my journey to find Jeanne’s story, linking the new book to my past research on Carl Jung and creativity as well as on Jeanne’s life. The book, tentatively entitled “Jeanne’s Gift: Finding Home,” should be available by the end of February, 2022. Stay tuned for more news. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy reading about creativity!
The Eight Creative Talents and Carl Jung – An Introduction
Lynne wrote the book Breakthrough Creativity because she believed that we are all creative and that there are many different ways to be creative. Each of us is capable of consistently producing different and valuable results. We don’t have to be a genius to be creative. Our results don’t necessarily have to be original to the world; few results meet that criterion. In fact, most results are built on the work of others. There is also a wide range of creative results, from minor adaptations and small solutions to everyday problems to the higher levels of creativity involved in historically significant major breakthroughs. Our creative efforts don’t have to change the course of history or science, although, certainly, for some who exhibit what could be called a ‘transformational creativity’ level, they do. For most of us however our creativity is a bit more ordinary — although still incredibly important and valuable in our own lives and in those of others.
Creative results can be artistic designs or novel inventions or minor fixes that solve customer problems. They can be innovative solutions to tough decisions or problems. Our results can come from reframing, redefining, or restructuring a problem in a way that generates different solutions. Our results can be new connections, new arrangements of existing or past data, or novel, new responses, ideas, perspectives and products. They can be big ideas and breakthroughs, or they can be small steps that build on past experience to generate better solutions.
Producing these creative results has a lot to do with the way we see the world, take in data and information, define problems and challenges generate alternative options, and select and implement a solution. To define these different ways, Lynne used the model developed by Swiss psychologist Carl Jung (1888-1961) who spent his whole life trying to understand the uniqueness and differences among us as well as the common patterns that govern our behavior. The well-known Myers Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) is also based on Jung’s work.
Jung’s Theory of Personality Differences
While recognizing the uniqueness of each individual, Jung also found patterns in the way human beings collect data and make decisions. Jung’s model defined these different patterns as preferences. These preferences for looking at challenges, collecting data and information, and generating responses have an impact on our creativity and our vision of the future. They can color the type of data we see, how we define the challenge in the first place, and what we decide to do with all this information.
According to Jung, there are four mental functions for taking in and processing data and information. Two functions are used for perceiving or collecting data:
- Sensing, which establishes what is actually present
- Intuition, which points to possibilities;
and two other functions are used for judging or making decisions:
- Thinking, which applies logical analysis, and
- Feeling, which uses ideals and values to make decisions.
These are functions that everyone uses some of the time. Everyone takes in concrete data about the real world (Sensing), sees patterns and possibilities (Intuiting), uses logic in making decisions (Thinking), and applies personal values as well to the decision-making process (Feeling). We just use them differently, direct them in different directions, get different energy from each, and assign a different degree of importance to each of the four functions.
In addition to the four functions, Jung found that there are two attitudes or orientations to the world:
- Introverted (inwardly focused and energized) and
- Extraverted (externally focused and energized).
At first, Jung believed that people were introverted or extraverted. However, upon more study, he concluded that the functions themselves, not people, were introverted or extraverted. Since each of the four functions of sensing, intuition, thinking, and feeling can operate in the introverted and extraverted worlds, the combination of functions and orientations results in eight preferences — eight different ways for taking in and processing data that produce different creative results and make distinct creative contributions. In her book, Lynne calls these preferences “talents.”
The Eight Creative Talents
When using the four extraverted preferences of sensing, intuiting, judging or feeling, we tend to want to work with others to share our perceptions, ideas, concepts, thoughts, and feelings; generate alternatives; and act on our decisions. With the introverted versions of the four preferences, we tend to operate in a more private space, to reflect and process ideas, thoughts, feelings, and decisions internally; we also prefer to keep our ideas to ourselves.
Of these eight preferences, four are used to collect data and information about the world and its challenges:
The extraverted sensing preference (the Adventurer talent) helps us experiment and play with clever and skillful adaptations based on the five senses and the facts at hand, just like photographers and jazz musicians.
The introverted sensing preference (the Navigator talent) allows us to pull in facts and details to build on what others have already done, just like researchers or scientists, who can also add a new twist to what’s been done before.
The extraverted intuiting preference (the Explorer talent) is used to continually challenge the status quo and generate new ideas and opportunities that might come from brainstorming, for example.
The introverted intuiting preference (the Visionary talent) helps us ask bold questions, see multiple connections, and provide far-reaching insights into the future, with almost a sixth sense, with ideas that come out of the blue.
The other four preferences are used to act on that data or information, to make decisions or judgments:
The extraverted thinking preference (the Pilot talent) allows us to find designs, strategies and plans to make improvements and get things organized, make lists to get things done, like disciplined project managers.
The introverted thinking preference (the Inventor talent) helps us to shift paradigms and build theories and models to analyze and provide unusual insights, like architects and philosophers.
The extraverted feeling preference (the Diplomat talent)* will focus us on people issues and values and will help foster a nurturing environment for the group or team, similar to humanitarians and civil rights activists.
The introverted feeling preference (the Poet talent) encourages reflection, articulation of eternal values, and an appreciation for quiet beauty and elegance, like poets.
It’s important to remember that Jung developed his framework of patterns, not to label people but to help them be more effective. His model is like a compass that will help us to understand ourselves and our impact on others, to maximize our strengths, and to minimize our weaknesses. Like a compass, it’s not a detailed map; it isn’t meant to be precise. However, it can guide us as we explore our strengths and develop greater awareness of ourselves and others.
Jung believed that we are each unique in our strengths, limitations, and talents. He wrote: “Each individual is a new experiment of life in [her] ever-changing moods and an attempt at a new solution or new adaptation.” According to Jung, personal development (or what is also known as self-actualization) is a strange adventure, a journey that takes courage and that never ends, but making the journey is worth the risk since the reward is finding our true self and, Lynne would add, finding our own brand of creativity.
For more information, please see Lynne’s book, “Breakthrough Creativity: Achieving Top Performance Using the Eight Creative Talents.”
* In Lynne’s book, this talent was called the “Harmonizer” talent. She later changed it to “Diplomat” to facilitate translation of her model into other languages!