Speaker Spotlight: Elizabeth Gilbert on Nurturing Creativity


Elizabeth Gilbert is best known for her internationally best-selling memoir, Eat, Pray, Love – written about her soul-searching adventure through Italy, India and Indonesia.  She has written several other novels and articles featured in world-renowned magazines.  Throughout her writing and speeches, it’s clear that her words are sincere.  Her style is encouraging, engaging, amusing and always blunt.  It is these traits that led us to choose Gilbert as the next speaker spotlight.  You may even soon find yourself wanting to read one of her books!

Gilbert’s presentation featured on TED.com in 2009, “On nurturing creativity” addresses a rational way of thinking about your own creative mind.  Rational thinking and decision making are topics we have covered before, but this particular presentation focuses on creativity and its reputation.  The creative process itself does not always appear to behave rationally, but the question Gilbert asks is whether or not these behaviors come from within or from a greater being.  The acceptance of where creativity comes from and being able to manage the emotions surrounded by the success and failure of creative ventures is an idea Gilbert desperately wants to spread.

During the TED talk, Gilbert explains her opinion on the difference between having a creative genius and being a creative genius.  She illustrates how damaging it is to tell someone they are a genius.  By doing so, the level of responsibility of that person to out-perform themselves becomes unbearable and eventually takes over their well-being. Gilbert goes on to provide several examples of how she derived her theories.  In her opinion, the “genius” should be a way of thinking – organizing thoughts and creative ideas to cope with everyday stress and environmental pressures.

The ideas presented by Gilbert are relatable to all forms of creativity, whether you’re an artist, a writer or even a top executive.  Understanding and coping with your creative mind can only help you achieve your goals faster, and learn from the mistakes or those not-so-creative moments.  The point is, you are responsible for defining your genius, and based on your definition the path for success will be visible.  Gilbert believes, with this in mind, if you show up and do your part, so will your so-called disembodied genius!  Check it out!

For a full list of novels or to learn more about Elizabeth Gilbert, visit TED.com or visit Gilbert’s official website.