As a 5 years old, the first time I ever got exposed to the Swedish culture, there was one thing that really got me sold, the art of enabling one's creativity and giving them the power and opportunity to innovate at a very early age. Up till when I first flew to Uppsala, Sverige, I had spent most of my free time listening to Sverige radio stations, I didn't quite understand what the presenters talked about or what the shows were about, but it just felt like home and in a way my life just came to a pause. In my mind all I knew was that my life will resume on the day I fly to Uppsala. I didn't quite care so much about making new friends, well in my 5 year old mind, I believed that my friends were waiting for me somewhere in Uppsala.

Sweden, is such an amazing country and my experience in this country, however limited, has been so great. It always felt like every minute spent in Uppsala always made me more creative, and by all means always enabled me to think creatively. It's like that feeling you get on the 10th day of Spring, like everything that was holding you down, is all gone and now you can be free and as creative as you want.

Creativity and personality.

Creativity can be expressed in a number of different forms, depending on unique people and environments. A number of different theorists have suggested models of a creative person. One model suggests that there are kinds to produce growth, innovation, speed, etc. These are referred to as the four "Creativity Profiles" that can help achieve such goals.

  • Incubate (Long-term Development)
  • Imagine (Breakthrough Ideas)
  • Improve (Incremental Adjustments)
  • Invest (Short-term Goals)

One characteristic of creative people, as measured by some psychologists, is what is called divergent production. Divergent production is the ability of a person to generate a diverse assortment, yet an appropriate amount of responses to a given situation. One way of measuring divergent production is by administering the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking, which assesses the diversity, quantity, and appropriateness of participants responses to a variety of open-ended questions.

A number of researchers include creativity, either explicitly or implicitly, as a key component of intelligence.

Examples of theories that include creativity as a subset of intelligence

  • Gardner’s Theory of multiple intelligences (MIT) – implicitly includes creativity as a subset of MIT. To demonstrate this, Gardner cited examples of different famous creators, each of whom differed in their types of intelligences e.g. Picasso (spatial intelligence); Freud (intrapersonal); Einstein (logical-mathematical); and Gandhi (interpersonal).
  • Sternberg’s Theory of Successful intelligence(see Triarchic theory of intelligence) includes creativity as a main component, and comprises 3 sub-theories: Componential (Analytic), Contextual (Practical), and Experiential (Creative). Experiential sub-theory – the ability to use pre-existing knowledge and skills to solve new and novel problems – is directly related to creativity.
  • The Dual Process Theory of Intelligence posits a two-factor/type model of intelligence. Type 1 is a conscious process, and concerns goal directed thoughts, which are explained by g. Type 2 is an unconscious process, and concerns spontaneous cognition, which encompasses daydreaming and implicit learning ability. Kaufman argues that creativity occurs as a result of Type 1 and Type 2 processes working together in combination. The use of each type in the creative process can be used to varying degrees.

Intelligence is a key component in the development of creativity. Under the view that creativity and intelligence as coincident sets, researchers posit that there are no differences in the mechanisms underlying creativity in those used in normal problem solving; and in normal problem solving, there is no need for creativity. Thus, creativity and Intelligence (problem solving) are the same thing.

The Swedish Creative Way

As a 5 year old

So what really got me so hooked into the Swedish way of life and culture. Well, back then I really didn't have much to say except for the dream of being in a classroom where I had access to all the necessary information, and tools to enable me to learn, and be creative in my own way but most importantly being amongst other creative, friendly kids.

Digging a bit deeper, these are some of the amazing reasons why I have chosen the Swedish Way

Swedes have a different kind of creativity. Immersing oneself in another country's cultural scene is always instructive, both internally and externally, this is especially so in the case of the amazing creative Swedish culture. It's a culture with a rich and strong element of inclusivity. Swedes are quite competitive, and have developed a keen understanding of the advantages and even necessity of effective collaboration.

Swedes work hard and require each and every member of the society to deliver. In return they expect and generally get a degree of freedom to decide over their own work environments. And in a way the Swedes take their careers very seriously so when they do finally get down to work they are recharged, full of new ideas and ready to get things done.

shallow focus photography of girl sitting on chair drawing on her paper on top of the table
Photo by pan xiaozhen / Unsplash

Swedish culture is self-effacing and it is considered "fult att skryta," "ugly to brag". In fact Swedes take modesty almost to a fault with a phenomenon known as "Jantelagen," Jante Law, an unwritten rule that can be summed up with: "Don't think you are special." Under Jantelagen behavior that even smacks of immodesty can be grounds for ostracizing.

And one other very key reason is the country's technical innovation which has been a key ingredient to the creative Swedish culture.

In Sweden, people speak their minds, lifting uncomfortable truths to the surface where they can be aired and exorcised more effectively. However, a good cultural pressure-release valve comes to their assistance: a willingness to accept and learn from failure. While other cultures might blindly contend that failure is not an option, Swedes generally accept that some failure is inevitable. As long as it is honest and not repetitive, and especially if it is learned from, it is tolerated.

The How Tos:

Work hard every day & be modest.

When you get an opportunity to be involved in any project, ensure to put all you've got to it to ensure a success of the project and be modest about it. Letting the goal of the project take course and not the work you've had to put towards it. Kill your darlings for the good of the project.

Prioritize your private life and refuse to compromise it away for work.

Most at times, we find ourselves caught up in work life that we forget about our own well being, to the extent that we forget about the most important thing about the human life, family. To keep being creative and innovative, it is quite important to take sometime to focus and prioritize our private lives and spent time with our family.

Tell uncomfortable truths

In a way we sometimes find ourselves carried away and caught up on situations and incidences of our lives. By opening up and talking to the right person about the issues we are experiencing or situations that we have been involved in, makes us free thus allowing us to be more creative and not held back by the thoughts of what others will think of us on discovering these issues.

Always innovate.

If it has been done before do it differently or don't do it at all. The goal is to help improve how we live our daily lives. What could be done better? What could be improved? How can we scale?

Collaborate and give credit where credit is due.

It is about involving others, and finding those who share the same interest as you. Working as a team has always proven to improve our lives and make us innovate at a very faster rate. Ensure to promote the doctrine that every team member contributes ideas.

If you've got that sweet corner office turn it into your team's project room and move your desk back out onto the floor.  Keep structures and titles as flat as possible. You may need your title on occasion but don't take it too seriously or use it as a wall.

Cultivate a culture of responsibility with freedom

Let yourself and the people around you know that they're allowed to fail. Mostly importantly is necessary to always get back up and do it again till it turns out right.

The world is changing so rapidly, that just learning a specific skill set and following it exactly won’t get us very far. What prepares students for life beyond the classroom is learning how to be more creative, which includes flexibility in perception and execution of tasks.

And yes, creativity skills can be taught and learned. You need an interest in the creative process, the desire to explore and a spirit of curiosity. But most importantly one needs the inspiration to be creative and to innovate. May we suggest an interesting post on Innovation.