John Cleese on Creativity

I’ve decided I need to start every day with an inspirational video, lecture, radio programme, article or book to awaken my mind and set the right tone for the day. Today’s choice was John Cleese’s 1991 lecture on creativity to the Video Arts conference.

“Creativity is not a talent. It is not a talent. It is a way of operating… It’s not an ability you either have or don’t have, and… it’s entirely unrelated to IQ.”

Cleese discusses the work of Donald W. MacKinnon, who described the most creative people as having the facility to get themselves into “a particular mood, a way of operating, which allowed their natural creativity to function”.

“McKinnon described this particular facility as an ability to play. Indeed, he described the most creative when in this mood as being ‘childlike’, for they were able to play with ideas, to explore them, not for any immediate practical purpose but just for enjoyment. Play for its own sake.”

A full transcript of the video can be found on

Here’s a link to an interesting article by Donald W. McKinnon on creativity.


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