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The Theory of Creativity: Duncan Wardle (Transcript)

Here is the full transcript of Duncan Wardle’s talk titled “The Theory of Creativity” at TEDxAUK conference.

Listen to the audio version here:


Who here was a child once? Right, all of us. I bought my nephew a bicycle for Christmas about six years ago. It was the Lightning McQueen bike from “Cars.” It was metallic; it was like Lightning McQueen. It had uncle status, clearly.

And you remember when you were a kid, it’s all about who’s got the biggest Christmas present in the box. So, it was a huge box. He brought it out, unwrapped it, tore open the top of the box, took the bicycle out. What did he spend the rest of the day playing with? Why? It could be anything he wanted it to be.

The Box: More Than Just Cardboard

It was anything you wanted it to be. It was a fort, it was a castle, it was a rocket ship, it was a Barbie’s house. At what point in your life could you now only see a box? From the age of six to the age of whatever you are today, at some point in your life, somebody’s pointed a finger at you and told you, “You’re not creative.” And at some point in our life, we actually believe we’re not creative.

So, one of the creative behaviors I want to cover for a moment is children are very curious, and they think expansively. Over time, we begin to think reductively because education teaches us to look for one right answer, and corporations are fear of failure. So, playfulness is a behavior I’d like to talk about.

The Importance of Playfulness

I don’t expect people to be playful every minute of every day, but I do expect people to be playful when they’re looking for big ideas. So, if I could invite you just to close your eyes for a moment. I’m going to ask you a question. I don’t want you to think about it. I just want you to shout out the first word that comes into your head. Where are you, and what are you doing usually when you get your best ideas? Shower. Walking the dog. Bike ride, commuting. What else? In bed. On a mountain. Running.

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