Who are ‘You’ – and how it helps your innovation and creativity

Did ‘you’ know that there is no single thing or part of you that is essentially ‘you’: if you go looking around your body or your brain you won’t find it.

Your brain, body and memories all play a part in constructing what you believe to be you, but there is no one thing – a specific part of the brain where your personal identity lives.

In a great new book The Ego Trick’ by Julian Baggini he highlights how: “Whatever stuff you are made from is the same kind of stuff that everything else is made of.”

The unity that makes up ‘you’ is the product of an interplay of different psychological and physical elements.

Our mind is not your brain: it is what the brain does. Baggini demonstrates how different criteria for defining ‘self’ such as it consisting of a memory, or the product of a continuous-body, or the more traditional selfhood criteria each help to constitute the truth. 

One function however, might serve as a candidate for determining ‘selfhood’; that is our brain’s ability to create a narrative, a story about who we are, created and performed by the left cerebral hemisphere, where human language is hard-wired.

The ‘self’ is constructed, through what is labelled by Baggini as an ‘ego trick’. It is made up of memories and fragmented experiences in a brain with no overall command centre.

The ‘trick’, according to Baggini, is for our brain to fashion an autobiography for ourselves – to create a unified story about who we are.

With my passion for creativity, innovation and brand communications I found this book fascinating and offering many parallels.

I have come across a 1001 definitions for ‘creativity’. The reality I would suggest is that creativity is not one such thing, but an umbrella term covering a range of dynamics.

When you generate ideas you generate creative outputs, which if successful deliver creative outcomes – your idea adds value to its context, which in turn can feed creative outgrowths – your idea adds value to other contexts.

I have devised a heuristic for the creative mind, consisting of the Creative Diamond: where you have four key quotients – your Intelligence, Emotional, Adversity and Vision Quotients, and the flexible interplay between these helps you create ideas.

I define creativity as: “Creating added value by flexible thinking around beautiful questions.” It is the flexibility of your thinking which is at the heart of your creativity.

So, flexibility of thinking is not only at the core of your creativity, now, thanks to Baggini, it is also central to determining what you are; there is no definitive source of ‘you’, only an interplay between different dynamics.

By improving your agility to think between different dimensions is using the facility, the muscle so to speak, which is at the heart of what defines you.

Also, your ability to create your own autobiography of your ‘self’, is, I would suggest, the ultimate personal branding exercise.

In my creativity teaching I highlight how your intra-personal skills – the ability to know oneself – is a fundamental requirement to fully utilising your gifts. And that every idea is a ‘brand’ waiting to be spread. 

Baggini’s description of our ‘self’ is a further spotlight in the dark cave of knowing our mind, ourselves, and who is ‘I’.

The thing that I conceive of as ‘I’ feels his work has deepened my understanding of how creativity works. ‘I’ like it !

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