June 28, 2012 in Blog
Iconic actor John Cleese (the Monty Python films and series, BBC’s Fawlty Towers) spoke about the creative process to advertisers at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.
What does John Cleese know about creativity? Apparently a lot. He’s been speaking on the subject for decades through his educational video company Video Arts. The key takeaway is the importance of letting the unconscious mind take the driver’s seat. Fast Company brought the bullet points to the masses by providing four notable stories from Cleese. Here we’ll give you the further abridged version.
Letting ideas percolate
Delay decision-making. If you can stick with a problem longer you can come up with a better solution. An unresolved problem creates anxiety in us. People don’t deal well with ambiguity. Taking the first idea that comes your way alleviates that stress, but the idea that comes the next hour or the next day may be even better. Cleese advocates for sticking by a decision, but also determining when the deadline for the decision is and not deciding before that deadline.
Separate yourself from the pressures of everyday life for a set amount of time. What Cleese calls “creating an oasis of quiet.” Allow at least an hour and half. Then take a break. Cleese says that a whole morning is too much time. Many experts in productivity back up his hour and a half claim. The most amount of time that you can be expected to focus without a break is generally accepted to be 90 minutes.
Here’s the 36-minute version of Cleese’s original lecture from 1991: