Writing my ancestor’s story and the eight creative talents

A great deal, perhaps even too much, of my time over the past 18 months has been devoted to research around the life of my eighth great grandmother who was born in France in 1643 and died in Quebec in 1716. In mid 2013, I spent many hours preparing for a September trip to France, researching details about her life in France, brushing up on my French, and scheduling hotels and meetings. Towards the end of my three weeks trip, I met up with my colleague Peter Schmidt in Amsterdam. Over a delicious, hot, white chocolate concoction, he asked how the eight creative talents were playing out in my research.

That provocative question got me thinking about how we use many of the eight creative talents in our everyday work, be it research, managing, or whatever. Even though we have our favorite talents that have been honed from years of use, we do indeed have access to all eight as my recent experience can attest. Here are some examples:

I have had to use my Navigator talent to keep track of the details of my research, such as a database of references, and of course it’s my Navigator talent that expects me to bring historical context into my ancestor’s story. My Adventurer talent comes in handy as I try to experience 17th century life everywhere I visit: the smells and sights of the countryside and the villages, the colors and textures of the clothes my ancestor wore, the tastes of the food she must have eaten. That talent also is proving to be very useful helping me improvise as I have to change plans or figure out directions to my next stop amid very confusing rotaries and signs.

In imagining her life, I have called upon my Explorer and Visionary talents to come up with all sorts of possibilities to fill in gaps in facts with imaginative options. I also am using my Visionary talent to create a writing plan so I can complete this story by the 300th-year anniversary of her death. And my Navigator and Adventurer talents are helping to keep these two other data collecting talents in check so that I don’t stray too far from realities of what could have been.

I am certainly using my dominant Pilot talent to lay out objectives for the project and to structure the various pieces of my research. My Inventor talent is helping me create a mental blueprint of what the story will look like and what the chapters will contain. My Diplomat talent reminds me that she was a real person with hopes and dreams that I somehow need to capture. Finally, it’s my Poet talent that constantly asks me, “Why are you doing this? What is the meaning of it all?”

So, how are you using the eight creative talents in your everyday life? Do you tend to use just your favorite one? Could you be guilty of overusing it? For example, I have to be careful to rein in my favorite Pilot talent to avoid letting it add too much structure so that I can enjoy the synchronicities that I frequently encounter in my research.  Or what about not using your favorite talent enough? Could you be hiding your light under a bushel and not letting it shine, as the song goes?

And what about the other talents? Remember we have access to all eight creative talent all of the time. Each has its contribution to make in our lives! And using an unfamiliar talent can also lead to even more creative ideas!

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