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  • Writer's pictureKaylie Dugan

Ten Paradoxical Traits of the Creative Personality

(Or, how a quantitative market researcher found her creative side)

Traits of a Creative Personality

I love sharing this list with people because they often see themselves in a number of traits. The list is based on the work of an amazing Russian researcher who studied the wonderful world of creativity. He has a whopper of a name: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. The pronunciation is really kind of simple: me-high chick-sent-me-high. A person with that name seems to me destined to be interested in creativity. (And it actually rhymes).

You might know him as the person who introduced the flow state into popular culture. So here goes the list:

  1. Lots of physical energy but often quiet and at rest.

  2. Smart and naïve at the same time.

  3. Combines playfulness and discipline, responsibility and irresponsibility.

  4. Alternates between imagination & fantasy and a rooted sense of reality.

  5. Both introverted and extroverted (this has a wonderful name…ambivert).

  6. Humble and proud at the same time.

  7. Escapes rigid gender role stereotyping.

  8. Both rebellious and conservative.

  9. Passionate about their work, yet extremely objective about it as well.

  10. Their openness and sensitivity often expose them to suffering and pain, yet also to a great deal of enjoyment.

When I first read the list many years ago, I felt understood better than at any other time in my life. Some of my weird traits simply meant I was creative. The list pegged me to a tee (except I’m not very conservative or irresponsible).

I started my career as a quantitative market researcher. I loved finding out about things and what made people tick. I was so into that side of the business that I even ran a successful business doing cross-tabulations. Eventually, I was in charge of research for a small advertising agency in the Bay Area. The boss decided to test us all using Myers-Briggs. When the results were in, the president called me into his office for a serious talk. He was concerned about my test results because I turned out to be too creative for the job!

Suddenly the door opened to a career change. I switched over to qualitative research, and have been basking in creativity ever since. I bless Myers-Briggs to this day.


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