Creativity & ego – a lesson from Jeong Kwan

Volume 3 of the Netflix documentary series Chef’s table kicks off with South Korean buddhist nun Jeong Kwan who approaches cooking as a spiritual practice. Her meals have left some of the world’s most famous and best chefs in awe.

As I love fine dining and am curious about different philosophies, different ways of thinking and approaching things, it was mind-blowing to watch this particular episode.

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At one point, Jeong Kwan shares a valuable lesson:

Creativity and ego cannot go together. 

If you free yourself for the comparing and jealous mind, your creativity opens up endlessly. Just as water springs from a fountain, creativity springs from every moment. 

You must not be your own obstacle. 

You must not be owned by the environment you are in. You must own the environment, the phenomenal world around you. You must be able to freely move in and out of your mind. This is being free. 

There’s no way you can’t open up your creativity. There is no ego to speak of. 

Beautiful thoughts that may resonate with you too especially if you’re in the creative industry.

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Innovation and change

I’ve admired R. Buckminster Fuller’s work for quite some time. He was an American architect who developed many ideas, designs and inventions. Most particularly, I know him as the patent owner of the structure of a geodesic dome.

This Buckminster Fuller quote is the key to successful radical innovative change in business:

You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete. – R. Buckminster Fuller

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Let the music play

I recently attended a Vivaldi concert that made me think about different styles of leadership and teamwork.

In a classical concert, the orchestra is led by the conductor, the musicians are following  ‘the script’, reading and playing the scores, abiding all the rules. There’s little room for spontaneity and improvisation … though the conductor’s interpretation of the piece may create something different, something unique.

 

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In a jazz act, there’s room for improvisation, a player can jump in or quit at some point. This sense of freedom may create something totally unexpected and unique – for both the musicians and the audience.

One is not better than the other, though the latter is certainly closer to my liking when it comes to music – and business.

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1 + 1 = 3?

Working alone, there’s only so much we can accomplish. Working in a team, the results can be exponentially increased.

Cooperation is key to effective teamwork.

1 + 1 = 3 when two people realise that they can complement each others’ skills when working together. That’s when creative ideas start to flow and become implemented, that’s when real development starts to kick in.

When it comes to artificial intelligence, 1 + 1 will only ever equal 2. Only the productive collaboration of two humans can produce something that exceeds expectations.

My grandfather said this once, and only now I come to realise how true it is:

1 plus 1 can equal 3.

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Robosapiens

Artificial intelligence is now making its way into the workforce – as this The Economist article reports. And no doubt, it will transform the workplace.

“… firms of all types are harnessing AI to forecast demand, hire workers and deal with customers” 

The goal is clearly to improve efficiency and productivity and to help make decisions without prejudice and biases:

“Using AI, managers can gain extraordinary control over their employees. Amazon has patented a wristband that tracks the hand movements of warehouse workers and uses vibrations to nudge them into being more efficient. Workday, a software firm, crunches around 60 factors to predict which employees will leave. Humanyze, a startup, sells smart ID badges that can track employees around the office and reveal how well they interact with colleagues.”

It’s a challenge to be aware of our potential biases and to control them, but algorithms, if designed correctly, can be more impartial – the article claims.

On one hand, this pisses me off and feels like it’s going completely against what I’m promoting at my businesses: independent thinking, meaningful relationships, creative cooperation. It feels a bit like modern day slavery where we dehumanise people and allow them to think less.

On the other hand, I find it fascinating.

Are we humans becoming humanity’s slaves?

What are your thoughts?

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Intuition

Knowing without knowing how you know: Intuition. Our own sixth sense is hugely valuable for helping us to make better decisions about everything we do in life and  business.

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift.
– Albert Einstein

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