How does the way we perceive the world, and make decisions according to psychological preferences, affect our creative practice?
The personal development guide, Creative You: Using Your Personality Type To Thrive by David B. Goldstein and Otto Kroeger, has the answers.
Imagine a glossy mag personality quiz written by Eric Maisel and you’ll have some idea of where Creative You is coming from.
The book starts with a simple either-or questionnaire to ascertain which of 16 creative types you belong using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) as its basis.
(The MBTI is a Jungian self-inventory designed to identify our personality type, strengths, and preferences.)
Once you're curiosity is piqued as to what your personality type will reveal about your natural creative assets, next comes detailed descriptions of all the types so that you thoroughly can bone up on yours.
Find your creative tribe using MBTI
Although I had some initial resistance to assuming the label of a particular type, it was soon dispelled by the book’s warm, encouraging and affirming tone tone.
Knowing David Goldstein on social media, I can testify that this warmth is not something contrived just for the book.
David is an artist as well as a successful entrepreneur, researcher, speaker and writer and, of course, he's MBTI-certified.
He spent over six years researching the connection between creativity and psychological types and this research is perfectly complemented by the input from his
co-author, the recently deceased, Otto Kroeger - or ‘Mr. MBTI’ - as he was known.
Otto was an organisational consultant specialising in the use of the MBTI Assessment as well as the author of numerous bestselling books on the subject, including Type Talk.
He had a unique talent for breathing life into the presentation of psychological type,
"...making the complicated understandable, actionable and...entertaining."
and Creative You certainly delivers on these counts.
As well as interviews and stories from the author’s lives there is plenty of anecdotal wisdom from acclaimed composers, performers, artists, writers, and scientists - all of which gives a feeling for the creative ‘personality’ tribe to which we belong.
David Goldstein & Otto Kroeger
Using your Creative Type to enhance your studio practice
Artistic practice is isolated by nature, with little opportunity for direct feedback and constructive criticism.
We stand back and squint at our easels or ask for a critique on our poetry from peers, but even then, it's hard to be objective about our art and to know whether we are getting our point across.
According to Creative You, for ‘Intuitives’ like me - and likely you, as 69% of all artists and entertainers fall into this category - clear communication can be an issue and we could benefit from being less obscure in getting our point over.
This advice sparked my recent decision to radically rework The Ladder to make the vision in my head more tangible on canvas.
Remembering the baffled faces of two acquaintances who had recently visited my studio, I asked myself,
"What is it I want to say? Is there more I could be doing to get my point across?"
The answer was yes, and I found myself empowered by acting on it.
Creative Type for Career, Criticism and Collaboration
“Knowing your creative differences gives you confidence, like the way you feel when walking into a party wearing perfectly tailored clothing; when you’re acting creatively within your personality, it fits.”
For me, some of the most interesting parts of the book lie towards the end with discussions on how to:
There is also a section on how to encourage creativity in children according to their type which would work equally effectively to encourage your creative ‘inner child’.
Should I Read Creative You?
With a book on personality types, there are inevitably going to be parts that you don’t want to read.
But Goldstein and Kroeger do a good job of including sufficient information on each type without making huge sections of the book uninteresting for everyone else - particularly in the latter part of the book where they give general scenarios in which knowing your type can be helpful, with examples of the types most affected in those situations.
Although this left me wanting more, it made for a coherent reading experience and stopped me skipping as much of the text as I might have.
So does Creative You convince?
I think it does. It gives you a framework of tools and techniques to help maximise your innate, positive traits and mitigate your weaknesses.
I certainly recognised myself in lots of the descriptions and found myself reflected in the examples of my type, as well as engaged by the recommendations for maximising my assets.
Curiously, I share my personality type with Einstein. Although I doubt I’ll be winning any Nobel prizes in the near future, I gotta tell you I also share his birthday…