The child within us

by Robert Genn

March 9, 2007

"The childhood shows the man, as morning shows the day," said
the British poet John Milton. For many of us, the choice to be
creative was made early on, and it had a lot to do with how we
interacted with others. Boston College professor of psychology
Ellen Winner found a great many similarities in her studies of
gifted children--difficulty making friends, scholastic boredom,
and social problems. While often unconventional and
nonconforming, her subjects seemed to become creative because
of the introversion that sprang from teasing or isolation. "The
more profound the gift, the more the isolation." she noted.

Winner determined that creative children begin to look at the
world in unique ways. They travel at a different visual and
cognitive speed. Some need little sleep and demand a high level
of stimulation. Some become creative on many levels.
Essentially "outsiders," they develop personal coping
techniques that they carry with them into maturity. Many never
recognize the powers they have developed.

There are a dozen or so characteristics of exceptionally
creative persons. It's useful to note some of them and perhaps
reflect on one's own childhood:

Visual perceptions that transcend everyday life
Heightened responses to natural surroundings
Sustained high standards of work ethic
Early presence of mentor(s)
Early formation of personal identity
Tendency to do things in unique ways
Preference to work autonomously
Defiance or suspicion of conventional thinking

Beside having the ability to make connections, think
abstractly, and take risks, highly creative folks are also
found to be precocious, sensitive, inventive, proactive,
authentic, imaginative, curious and childlike.

Here are some thoughts for the highly creative: Unfortunately,
in the natural jungle that runs through crib, kindergarten,
college, and the great classroom of life, it's easy for you to
get the idea that there's something wrong with you. There
isn't. No matter what your upbringing, school experience, or
the slings and arrows of life itself, you're just different.
And you're okay. Really okay. Tremendously okay. And you're not

Best regards,


PS: "I am a child who is getting on." (Marc Chagall) "It takes
a very long time to become young." (Pablo Picasso)

Esoterica: The child within us may be the key to all invention
and creativity. A schoolyard bully may have done the favor. Or
the seed may forever remain a mystery. But recognizing we have
the tools to create is the greatest gift and offers the
potential for the highest manifestation of humanity. We accept
the gift and proliferate with joy and impunity.