Creativity is just connecting things

Contributed by Phil Okwedy – Chief Storyteller

"Creativity is just connecting things" - Steve Jobs

I’m not sure I’d agree with the ‘just’ in Jobs’ quote but everything is connected.

Three years ago, when I finally made the decision to quit teaching and become a fulltime storyteller, panic set in almost immediately! How on Earth would I ever make a living?

Like the proverbial drowning man, I began clutching at straws. I’d spent my last period as a teacher facilitating philosophy sessions using story, and this seemed an obvious area for development. I was deep into researching how I could market and monetize this on the internet when I had a chance meeting with a friend.

Having explained my panic and what I intended to do with it, my friend looked at me and said:

“That sounds like your head leading, but in deciding to leave teaching aren’t you following your heart?”

It was a lightbulb moment. One that has illuminated my path ever since. So, when I was invited to join Cymbrogi – Companions of the Heart – and help facilitate the creativity element of the programme, it really was a no-brainer.

“You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” - Maya Angelou

As a teacher, I’d been delighted that the Welsh government put creativity at the heart of the new curriculum. Creativity, long associated with the “spark of genius” moment is now recognised as an innate human skill and therefore, like a muscle, something that can be strengthened and developed. As a storyteller, I think that rather than the myth of originality, creativity happens when we expand the range of our next possible moves by making as many corresponding and conflicting connections as we possibly can…with ideas, things and, most importantly, people.

“The most important thing each of us can know is our unique gift and how to use it in the world. Individuality is cherished and nurtured, because, in order for the whole to flourish, each of us has to be strong in who we are and carry our gifts with conviction, so they can be shared with others.” - Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer.

The key to unlocking those gifts lies in the exercising of the creative muscles – to do that we must connect – and, as we look forward into an uncertain future, there has never been a more important time to do that.

“All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life: he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.” - Chief Seattle.

Find out more about Phil here…

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