The Creative Interchange Process – Part II

Second Aspect of Creative Interchange

The Right Side of the Lemniscate

Characteristic 3: Creative Integrating

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Creativity, like authenticity and appreciation, has a specific meaning in the creative interchange process. As was stated earlier Dr. Wieman focused on the creativity that creates the human mind, rather than, the creations proceeding form that mind; for example work, art, science, technology and the like.

The Indo-European roots for the word create, as used here, mean becoming, to grow, to bring forth. The creative integrating characteristic of creative interchange brings forth growth by expanding the range of what we can know, appreciate, imagine and control from the inside out. It incorporates the promise of transforming our be-ing through our be-coming. This means we are both, a human being and a human becoming. We are a being that continually becomes a new being. We are not either a being or a becoming. We are both a becoming being and a being becoming.

Becoming in the realm of creative interchange involves transcending. To transcend means to pass beyond the limits, to surpass, to leap and to climb. In order to create, to grow and become our mind moves beyond its current understanding, meanings, limits, structures and expectations. It is a movement outside and beyond our current mental model or mindset. Of course, such movement precipitates uncertainty, ambiguity, unknowing and potential confusion. Many people experience anxiety at such moments. This is an interlude between being the way we’ve been and becoming a new and different way of being.

Most people resist such moments of ambiguity and anxiety. Instead of moving beyond they become protective, defensive and often offensive. Nevertheless, this is a critical characteristic of the creative interchange process. It requires a willingness to let go of the way things are in order to embrace what they can become. Those who are willing to remain open, curious and accept and embrace ambiguity are more apt to have an “aha” experience or what Maslow called a peak experience. It paves the way for what he called “synergistic awareness”. Synergy involves an experience that is different from and more than what was expected. It is a moment of originality and novelty. It’s an interlude of creativity beyond the current created self. It is an experience of the creative self-awareness penetrating created self-consciousness.

The “aha’ occurs from a common meaning that is forming and integrating a new and expanded meaning from the ambiguity and uncertainty through connecting elements of the paradox. A new perspective is emerging. It is a transformational moment in the mind of moving form and through one form of being and doing toward a another. Sometimes the new form is an “incremental” change, while at other times it evokes a “transformational” change. It requires the capacity to suspend judgment and delay gratification and remain within and between transcendence and integration. It is an interlude when the creative self is transcending the created self, a time of expanding the valuing consciousness.

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Transcendence moves us beyond our existing mindset while the integration provides the parameters for the emerging mindset. Integration means to bring parts together into a whole, to unify, to join and to make complete. Some of the Indo-European roots include, bring into contact, to connect, to touch, to arrange and to bring together. The integration brings together a new arrangement of the current configuration of the created mindset and combines and integrates new material experienced in the transcendent ambiguity of the creative self. The old mindset is transformed into a new one that is different form and more than the old. This transcending and integrating is at the heart of the third characteristic of creative interchange.

Interrelating characteristics 2 and 3

(The basis for Becoming)

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This interrelating is pictured by a “skewed or diagonal 8” connecting the left (the observing, perceiving and thinking) part with the right (creating and transforming) part of creative interchange process (the Lemniscate or “horizontal 8”).

The integration of characteristics 2 and 3 form the basis for our Becoming. This is the process of allowing our created self to become permeable, pliable and open to entertain and appreciate differences. The more we trust, are curious, observe, perceive and “appreciate” new ways of being, the less intimidated we are by ambiguity, uncertainty and interludes of frustration and confusion. This is the prerequisite for letting go and letting the process of transformation “flow” without becoming anxious and stressed. During this integration of the two characteristics being accepting and engaging ambiguity is paramount.

Appreciative understanding and creative integrating are distinct but not separate. The more we expand our valuing consciousness the more information, images and options become available and acceptable the more there is for adapting and inventing new mental models. We are more willing to let go of our current mental models as we appreciatively understand the limitations and errors that can and be corrected. The process of becoming and merging into a new way of being is our also provides us with the highest form of satisfaction. No amount of pleasure derived from any other way of being can approximate becoming a higher level of who we are capable of becoming and being.

Characteristic 4: Continual Transforming

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Without continual transforming, much of the potential gain of the 3rd characteristic is lost. Habits are not easily changed. It takes commitment, discipline, integrity and perseverance to sustain “aha” moments into new habits of behaving. Good intentions can initiate change but not sustain it. As pointed out in characteristic 2, sustainable change means there has been a change, a development, in our valuing consciousness. We must value the new emerging mindset in order to make the effort to form the new habits required to establish and sustain it. A friend of ours summed it up by saying, “If you’re willing to pay the price (make the effort), you can keep the change.” The price to be paid is the amount of attention we put with our intention. Many people abandon their intentions through distraction. They have good intentions, but not much discipline to sustain their attention.

While characteristic 3 makes differences mutually supportive characteristic 4 makes them habitual. This characteristic is dependent on the degree of motivation, the value and the amount of attention placed on developing the new mindset. It also, requires courage to engage and persevere through the ambiguity and uncertainty of the transition. This characteristic carries our intentions to fruition through attention and repetition on to action. Characteristic 4 completes the synergy initiated during creative integrating. Both 3 and 4 bring elements of the old mental model to merge with the new elements of the “aha” moment and habituate them into a new mindset. The original creative self energizes an expanding transformation within the created self.

It is an emergence from one version of stability into a new one. The integration of these two characteristics provides a converging and emerging dynamic. It moves from ambiguity toward stability via spontaneity, simultaneity and novelty. It merges the best of the old with what is better in the new. This requires a two-fold commitment. It keeps the “old” from obstructing the emergence of the “new” and keeps the “new” from abandoning and discarding the value of the “old.” Wieman said this requires a two-fold commitment. A commitment to act on the current best we know and a commitment to remain open to what in truth can transform our current best to what is better.

Far too often, we are committed to our current best on the assumption it is THE best; it is somehow TRUE beyond doubt, question or correction. Such rigidity is an instance of the created self-obstructing a creative interchange with our created self.

Interrelating characteristics 3 and 4

(Convergent thinking)

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This interrelating is pictured by a “Vertical 8” within the right part (the creating and doing part) of Creative Interchange (the Lemniscate or “Horizontal 8”).

Creative integrating and continual transforming are distinct but not separate. Simply put, as the quality of what we creatively integrate increases the more transformational the change. Usually, as the benefit of a change increases the motivation to become the change we want to “see and be” increases. Conversely, the more we become the change the more we are drawn toward the satisfaction experienced in and through the transforming process.

These characteristics are not sequential. The more we expand the range of what we know, appreciate, imagine and control the more competent we become at continuing to expand and creating ever-new ways to integrate and adapt creatively. The movement from stability to change to an expanded stability provides a felt quality of satisfaction that is more than and different from such notions as fun, excitement and pleasure. The latter are derived from one’s current mindset. They tend to be temporary and their opposite experienced when their pursuit is obstructed, frustrated and denied. The deeper experience of “bliss”, “peace” and “joy” are not emotions in the conventional sense of the meaning of satisfaction. The distinction between “feeling” and “emotion” is taken up in the section on CI conditions.

Thus, Characteristics 1 and 2 support divergent thinking while Characteristics 3 and 4 support convergent thinking. These characteristics integrate and stabilize the current mindset into a new configuration that expands and transforms the existing mindset into a new and more comprehensive mindset. Transformational change is more of a paradigm shift, a new worldview, an epiphany of life changing proportions. Such interludes provide us with what Maslow called “Peak Experiences.” These have often been identified with “religious” and “mystical” experiences.

Summary Second Aspect of Creative Interchange

The second aspect of Creative Interchange is about becoming who we can become through creative integrating and continual transformation.

Becoming

Interrelating characteristics 4 and 1

(Becoming-Being)

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This interrelating is pictured by a “Diagonal 8” connecting the right (creating and transforming) aspect with the left (seeing and thinking) part of Creative Interchange (the Lemniscate or “Horizontal 8”).

The integration of characteristics 4 and 1 form the basis of our Being. It is a process of making the emerging integration of the old and new mindsets into a habit. It is a process of aligning our intention with what we say and do. It is process of completing our becoming in characteristic 4 with our authentic interacting in characteristic 1. It is about integrity of being our best current self. It is acting on the best we now know, appreciate, imagine and control.

Continual transforming and an authentic interacting are distinct but not separate. As the quality of whom we transform into increases, the more courage we develop for being who we are and authentically saying and acting on the best we now know, appreciate, imagine at any given moment. The realization that we are who we are and who we are yet to be allows us to be open to sharing and experiencing differences that will act as the precursors to who we are yet to become and be.

Epilogue

Question: Is the creative interchange process primarily individual or social? The answer is a resounding, yes! In a letter to our friend Mike Murray, dated March 6 1973, Wieman posed this issue as a question. He moreover wrote the question in capital letters; “HOW TO RELEASE AND DEVELOP THE CREATIVE POTENTIALITIES OF THE INDIVIDUAL IN COMMUNITY WITH OTHERS?” He continued, “These potentialities are not in the individual apart form community with others but neither are they in community apart from the unique potentialities of each individual. How to bring these two together in such a way that they create one another: the free, full, unlimited potentialities of the individual and the kind of community with others in which each fosters his development in one another. This is the basic problem of human existence. The expression ‘creative interchange’ seeks to summarize it.”

Henry spent his later years seeking the “required conditions” that foster creative interchange within and between individual living in such community. In the next section we will examine some of those required individual/social conditions.

 

 

 

 

 

The Creative Interchange Process – Part I

It’s paramount to understand the creative interchange process before focusing on the required conditions and helpful behaviors for its operation in transforming the human mind. Henry Nelson Wieman defined the process in the introduction of his 1958 book, “Man’s Ultimate Commitment (MUC).” He said, “ By creativity I do not mean creative work, science, technology, social organization or any other area of human achievement. … But I shall be examining … the creative transformation of the individual in the wholeness of his being ….” He continues, “Creative transformation of the individual is distinguished from every other kind of change by four characteristics. These four are not the only features pertaining to it, for creativity is very complex and in its depth fades into mystery.”

Elsewhere, Henry Nelson Wieman makes a distinction between an original creative self and a conditioned created self. The created self is a construct within the original creative self and authors much of the creative work, science, technology, arts and what is usually referred to as creativity. In another section we will discuss how excessive identification with the created self leads to what many call the false or ego self. The focus here is on the creative process that creates and transforms the created self. Wieman identified and named this process creative interchange. Creative interchange is what expands indefinitely the human conscious mind.

H.N. Wieman did not presume to have the final understanding of what creative interchange is nor how it transforms the mind. He said, “Creativity is an expanding of the range and diversity of what the individual can know, evaluate, [imagine] and control [from the inside out].” In the closing paragraphs of MUC he concludes “… creative and transforming power …means two things: (1) [an] interchange which creates appreciative understanding of unique individuality and (2) integration within each individual of what [they] get from others this way, thus creating [their] own personality in power, knowledge, and capacity to appreciate more profoundly diverse individuals, peoples, and things.”

In summary, creative interchange operates when individuals authentically interact and appreciatively understand one another’s’ unique perspectives and creatively integrate those perspectives in a way that transforms their own mind and behavior. The more individuals, groups or organizations engage in creative interchange the more they will undergo continual transformation. It is our opinion that the more we learn about the required conditions who foster this creative interchange, the more we can experience continuing transformation of our minds and gain greater control of our lives.

The four characteristics of Creative Interchange are:

  1. Authentic Interacting
  2. Appreciative Understanding
  3. Creative Integrating
  4. Continual Transforming

To symbolize the Creative Interchange Process we’ve chosen the ‘official’ symbol for the concept infinity: the Lemniscate, since Creative Interchange is infinite.

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In the next paragraphs of this section “The Creative Interchange Process” we will present those characteristics and their interrelating.

First Aspect of Creative Interchange

The Left Side of the Lemniscate

Characteristic 1: Authentic Interacting

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For many people authenticity and honesty mean the same thing and can be used interchangeably. As it relates to creative interchange, honesty means that one’s motives, values and beliefs are aligned and congruent with one’s existing mental model, their words and behavior. Authenticity includes another condition of greater self-awareness. The condition of awareness will be taken up in a later section (concerning the required conditions for Creative Interchange).

Authenticity has different meanings for different people. As it relates to creative interchange, it means that one’s intentions, values and beliefs match and conform to and are congruent with one’s words and actions. What is being expressed is worthy of trust, can be relied upon, as being the best that person understands to be factual and true at the moment. There is no intent to deceive, manipulate or give misinformation. Hypocrisy and dishonesty are antithetical to authentic interacting. It is both a matter of integrity and humility: ‘What you hear and what you see, so what you get, is what there really is’.

Authenticity requires courage, the courage to be open and transparent. It is based on an individual’s non-judgmental felt sense and awareness of her/his intrinsic self-worth. Such awareness tends to be the exception in most cultures of the world; especially in most organizational cultures. In other words it is the awareness of self, others and the world as seen through non-judgmental observation based on one’s intrinsic worth. 

Characteristic 2: Appreciative Understanding

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Appreciation, like authenticity, lends itself to a variety of interpretations. Appreciation as used here involves accurate assessment and critical judgment. There is an effort to perceive a whole range of facts and values, both positive and negative. It is a “both/and’ appreciation that any idea, person, event or situation has positive and negative aspects.

As it pertains to others it means ‘seeing’ (observing) them as they are and not ‘perceiving’ them as we are. It includes what is commonly referred to as empathy. This is the capacity to enter the frame-of-reference or perspective of another and understand their assumptions, beliefs, values and reasoning. One must place value on ‘observing’ others as they are in order to move beyond identifying differences without the ability to reconcile them toward mutual growth and transformation.

Henry Nelson Wieman talked about what he called our “valuing consciousness”. For him a value is a “goal-seeking activity.” Values initiate intention and direction and result in action. We seek and pursue what we value. Any change in our valuing consciousness has behavioral implications and consequences.

This means that in living Creative Interchange we have to be both, curious regarding the frame-of-reference of the other and embrace and engage the ambiguity this generates. Since what we see “through the eyes of the other”, when we observe them as they are, is often different form who we are, we can learn from the differences, rather than, polarizing them.

So the first aspect of creative interchange (the left side of the Lemniscate) has two characteristics, 1) authentic interacting that results in 2) appreciative understanding of what is unique and original in the thinking and perspectives others. This is more than our conventional communication or information exchange. It involves sharing both information and its context. The characteristics of authentic interacting and appreciative understanding are reciprocal and can be mutually supportive when we don’t polarize them.

Interrelating characteristics 1 and 2

(Divergent Thinking)

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Authentic interacting and appreciative understanding are distinct but not separate. This interrelating is pictured by the smaller vertical Lemniscate within the larger horizontal Lemniscate.

The more authentic our interacting the more appreciative we can become with others and ourselves. Conversely, the more we understand and appreciate others and ourselves, the more trusting, authentic, open, curious, and empathic we are capable of becoming in our actions, as we increase tolerance for uncertainty, ambiguity and differences.

These characteristics are not sequential. The more trusting and open we are in sharing our intentions and knowledge the more opportunity there is for appreciative understanding. The more we are appreciatively understood the more willing we are to trust and remain open to authentically interacting and sharing the best we know. We become more transparent in our sharing and receptive to experiencing others as they are. Authenticity fosters appreciation and curiosity while appreciation fosters and supports greater authenticity and openness. Characteristics 1 and 2 form the basis for divergent thinking. They support new possibilities for transformation.

It is important to introduce an additional distinction, but not separation, Dr. Wieman alluded to is between what he called the creative self and the created self or adaptive self. The created self is the self that develops as a result of our “ social conditioning.” This includes parenting, formal education, peer involvement and all forms of life experience. The created self is the one that most of us identify with and come to believe is our only or true self. It is our conscious self. This will be discussed in greater detail in a following section where we develop the required “conditions” for the creative interchange process.

The created self has both stable and developmental qualities. It includes our current mental model or mindset and our openness and predisposition to grow and develop. As we become conscious of the differences in the perspectives of others we must become open and permeable to growth and development. The initial experience of such differences involves ambiguity and uncertainty. If we are to undergo transformational change as a result of encountering and appreciating these differences we must be willing let go of the way we are and open to discovering and inventing new ways of being.

When a person becomes attached to an existing way of being and has identified with it, the prospect of letting go is often experienced as threatening. This is a critical juncture point in determining to what extent the person will be resistant to change. This requires moving beyond our current way of being, our created self, and being open to our creative self. The creative interchange process requires people share authentically and appreciatively their differences. Most people have difficulty managing differences. They are conditioned to make judgments that polarize them into agree/disagree, like/dislike, right/wrong and good/evil. This will be examined in depth later in a section on the Vicious Circle.

Summary

Being

Creative Interchange is being authentic and appreciative. It is sharing with integrity and humility and appreciating others as they are, by observing and being empathic.