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Sunday, June 11, 20061150046100

Coming Anarchy 7, Humility

Note: This is a selection from Coming Anarchy, part of tdaxp's SummerBlog '06

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Humility and Pride

“Some individuals stress humility, others self-assurance, but in actuality all of the people we interviewed seemed to have a good dose of both (Csikszentmihalyi, 1996).”
We thought that this dichotomy was especially interesting as it pertained to the people we studied in class. Many of the people were very humble, which one might not expect given their enormous success and obvious superiority. Yet, you still got the sense that they knew they were the best, and they enjoyed all of the recognition and attention they were getting. It is just amazing that creative people are able to harness the benefits of both humility and pride in the proper setting. In society today, it seems that many people only exhibit one of these traits most all of the time, whether or not it is appropriate. For example, the huge egos (pride) of professional athletes that forget they are playing only as part a team and should therefore maybe be a little more humble about their contribution.

Relevant Quotes From Interviews (Select):

When asked the question, “How would you describe yourself to yourself?” the following answers were elicited:
Chirol: “[I’m] someone who perhaps doesn't understand perhaps a great deal, which is why I read so much. For Example, one thing I seem to be lacking is an ability to be offended. … Thus, I check the news every morning, afternoons if I'm home and always in the evening. I'm the person you don't want to say "Did you hear that..." to, because I already read it and will know more about it than you.”
Curzon: “On the outside, I'm extroverted and arrogant. On the inside, I'm ambitious. I am good at making friends with people regardless of their age; I find it hard to focus on details -- I'm a big-picture guy…”
Younghusband: “I think I am the worst of the 3 on our site... [The graphic design], it is 100% because of me.”

Organizing The Information From The Quotes (Organize):

It is amazing how both extremes of the dichotomy came out in such a short interview. “Moderate” comments were not so notable (i.e. no one came out and said, “I am average”). Humility and pride is the area where the answers between subjects were the most similar. Any future attempts to determine how identity and creativity interact may want to start from here first.

Association With Our Course Readings (Associate):

“Creative individuals are remarkably humble and proud at the same time (Csikszentmihalyi, 1996).”
“No matter how modest these individuals are, they know that in comparison with others they have accomplished a great deal (Csikszentmihalyi, 1996).”

Nagging Questions (Regulate):

Perhaps because of the prominence of “flow” in creativity, might creative people be less likely to have an “explicit theory of self” because their metacognition is weaker? Might the fact that on occasion our subjects were very humble be the reason why more of them didn’t feel that their work in the domain identified them?





Coming Anarchy, a tdaxp series:
Coming Anarchy 1: Introduction
Coming Anarchy 2: Methods and Analysis
Coming Anarchy 3: Identity
Coming Anarchy 4: Failure
Coming Anarchy 5: Obsession
Coming Anarchy 6: Sacrifices
Coming Anarchy 7: Humility
Coming Anarchy 8: Geography
Coming Anarchy 9: Recognition
Coming Anarchy 10: The Gap
Coming Anarchy 11: Conclusion

Comments

"It is amazing how both extremes of the dichotomy came out in such a short interview"

"“Creative individuals are remarkably humble and proud at the same time (Csikszentmihalyi, 1996).”

That's because:

1. the creative types are measuring reality against what could be/could have been - that there is a longer grasp than with most ppl doesn't mean that it is still not exceeded by the reach.

2. In my view, creative people are quite adept at analysis, even if they tend to apply that ability very selectively. It is inescapable to them, regardless of how unsatisfied they may be with their own accomplishments, how stunningly mediocre, incurious, lazy and oftentimes blind, their less creative or gifted colleagues might be.

Generally, in my experience, one social manifestation of this dichotomy is boredom with others who do not share a similar creative ethic and refraining from open criticism because the creative person does not regard their colleagues as peers ( private criticism may be biting, however). Open criticism is reserved for " worthier" targets.

Posted by: mark safranski | Sunday, June 11, 2006

"refraining from open criticism because the creative person does not regard their colleagues as peers"

I think of the stereotypical professor who does not talk with colleagues, or insists on written communiques. Not only for that reason, but also because time spent developing social skills is time not digging deeper into their vertical domain...

That said, malsocialization can also be adapted by non-domain experts in order to send the signals of expertise (and get the benefits).

This makes me think of the psychological experiments where students have a purposefully bad instructor, and thus rate their own intelligence as lower (and the instructor's as higher). Appear to be a socially maladroit domain expert, and others will assume you are... Thus one can become very socially connected (by being perceived as an expert) while appearing to be socially disconnected (by being perceived to be socially incompetent.

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Sunday, June 11, 2006

"This makes me think of the psychological experiments where students have a purposefully bad instructor, and thus rate their own intelligence as lower (and the instructor's as higher). Appear to be a socially maladroit domain expert, and others will assume you are... Thus one can become very socially connected (by being perceived as an expert) while appearing to be socially disconnected (by being perceived to be socially incompetent."

This sounds very much like a Dilbert cartoon. :o)

Posted by: mark safranski | Sunday, June 11, 2006

Very much like the Pointy-Headed Boss. But then, also like John Deputy Director John Whither from That Hideous Strength.

Come to think of it, they are very similar characters...

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Sunday, June 11, 2006

Agree with Mark here.

"Creative experts" have to be arrogant enough to think they *can* (and have the right to) do whatever needs to be done, and humble enough to recognise the distance they are from their ideal production.

If you don't have the arrogance, you don't try. And if you don't have the humility you don't recognise what you should be aiming for.

Posted by: phil jones | Wednesday, June 14, 2006

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