Wednesday, March 31, 2010

On Detecting Creativity in a Federal Judge

Recently, I was reading the biography of a federal judge. I found it interesting that the judge had received a masters degree in city planning from Yale University before earning her law degree. The judge had graduated third in her law school class.

City planning and law are quite distinct fields. Excelling in both fields indicates not only a high intellect, but, psychologically, a wide personality scope. Indeed, having wide interests and multiple potentials--sufficient to succeed in several careers--are markers of the creative personality.

I've always been drawn to creative people. I have a knack for picking up on a person's creative potential very early in my interaction with that individual.

Here are some other characteristics that differentiate the more creative individual from the less creative:

* He is more observant and perceptive, and he puts a high value on independent "true-to-himself" perception. He perceives things the way other people do but also the way others do not.

* He is more independent in his judgments, and his self-directed behavior is determined by his own set of values and ethical standards.

* He balks at group standards, pressures to conform and external controls. He asserts his independence without being hostile or aggressive, and he speaks his mind without being domineering. If need be, he is flexible enough to simulate the prevailing norms of cultural and organizational behavior.

* He dislikes policing himself and others; he does not like to be bossed around. He can readily entertain impulses and ideas that are commonly considered taboo; he has a spirit of adventure.

* He is highly individualistic and non-conventional in a constructive manner. Psychologist Donald W. MacKinnon puts it this way: "Although independent in thought and action, the creative person does not make a show of his independence; he does not do the off-beat thing narcissistically, that is, to call attention to himself. ... He is not a deliberate nonconformist but a geniunely independent and autonomous person."

* He has wide interests and multiple potentials--sufficient to succeed in several careers.

* He is constitutionally more energetic and vigorous and, when creatively engaged, can marshal an exceptional fund of psychic and physical energy.

* He is less anxous and possesses greater stability.

* His complex personality is, simultaneously, more primitive and more cultured, more destructive and more constructive, crazier and saner. He has a greater appreciation and acceptance of the nonrational elements in himself and others.

* He is willing to entertain and express personal impulses, and pays more attention to his "inner voices." He likes to see himself as being different from others, and he has greater self-acceptance.

* He has strong aesthetic drive and sensitivity, and a greater interest in the artistic and aesthetic fields. He prefers to order the forms of his own experience aesthetically, and the solutions at which he arrives must not only be creative, but elegant.

* Truth for him has to be clothed in beauty to make it attractive.

* He searches for philosophical meanings and theoretical constructs and tends to prefer working with ideas, in contradistinction to the less creative who prefer to deal with the practical and concrete.

* He has a greater need for variety and is almost insatiable for intellectual ordering and comprehension.

* He places great value on humor of the philosophical sort and possesses a unique sense of humor.

* He regards authority as arbitrary, contingent on continued and demonstrable superiority. When evaluating communications, he separates source from content, judges and reaches conclusions based on the information itself, rather than whether the information source was an "authority" or an "expert."

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