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Von Oech’s Four Roles of Creativity

ancient antique armor armour

Roger von Oech encourages people to adopt four roles to further their creativity: the explorer, artist, judge and warrior. These roles need to be applied in order and without interference from the other roles for the most part.

The explorer starts at the beginning. She gathers information, observes the world, asks questions and finds out what is needed and what there is. Exploring allows you to find the raw materials that you need for the next role. The more you explore, the more you learn, but don’t be caught as the explorer only. You’ve got to put all that information to use somehow.

The artist comes up with ideas. This is where brainstorming, and imagining what there could be, comes in handy. Come up with as many ideas as you can. When you have a lot of ideas, its time to call on the next role.

Hopefully, you’ve been able to keep the judge out of it up to this point, though some would argue that judging ideas as they occur makes them better. Whatever your view, how you deal with the judge is important because he may keep you from performing any work at all. The judge is important though for making sure that ideas are practical. So, let your judge be gentle with you and your ideas, but also know that some ideas may have to wait for later when they are feasible.

The warrior is invoked to fight internal and external enemies. Your warrior will need to be strong enough to fend off your own insecurities and anxieties while defeating those who would stymie your creative efforts. The warrior puts the work in every day and makes the idea a reality.

You’ll have to find the right timing for calling on each of these roles for you and your process, or maybe you need to develop your own metaphor. Whatever it takes, call on your inner guides to become more creative.

For more on creativity, order “Disneyland Is Creativity.” Get “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.”

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