I’m delighted to say that this month, Capstone/Wiley has published an all-new edition of my book, Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative. I wrote the original edition of Out of Our Minds during 2000. I have to admit that when Capstone suggested last year that we produce a new edition of the book to mark its tenth anniversary, I had in mind a less sweeping revision. I pictured spending a long weekend with a casual bottle of claret and a spell check program, sprucing up the original text. In the event, I was plunged into six months of sweated labor as I virtually rewrote the entire book.
The first reason for a completely new edition is that so much has happened in the last ten years, both in the world and in my world. On almost every front, the pace of change has become even more frantic and the issues at the heart of the book have become even more pressing. Consider the rate of change in technology. Ten years ago, the Internet was still a novelty for most people. There were no smart phones, IPods or IPads; no Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or most of the social media sites that are now transforming culture and economics around the world. Think too of the increasing pace of population growth, the growing strains on the environment and the effects of all of these on people’s lives and future prospects. Many other things have happened too, from the global impact of the events of 9/11 to the ongoing effect of the Great Recession, that simply could not have been anticipated ten years ago: in politics, the economy, in culture and in the environment. The sheer unpredictability of human affairs lies right at the heart of my argument for cultivating our powers of creativity: in business, in education and in everyday life.
The second reason for this new edition is that I now have more to say about many of the core ideas in the book and about what we should do to put them into practice. During the past ten years I’ve debated these ideas with CEOs of multinational corporations and not for profit organizations, politicians, artists, scientists, students, parents and educators. These experiences have deepened my conviction about the importance and the urgency of the arguments in Out of Our Minds and the need to represent them to an even wider audience.
The third reason is, not only has the world moved on in the last ten years, I have too. Literally. When I wrote the first edition, my family and I were living in Stratford on Avon, a small market town in England and birthplace of William Shakespeare. I wrote the new edition in Los Angeles, where we live now. The architect Frank Lloyd Wright once said that if you were to turn the world on its side and shake it, everything loose would land in Los Angeles. Just after the first edition of Out of Our Minds was published, my family and I shook loose and did just that. You can imagine what a seamless transition that turned out to be. Since then, I have traveled all over the United States meeting many extraordinary people and seeing fascinating initiatives. All of these experiences have informed this new edition, which has a much stronger emphasis on developments in the Americas and Asia as well as in Europe.
In 2009, Viking/Penguin published my book The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything and it’s since been published in 20 other languages. That book looks at the nature of personal talent and the conditions in which it flourishes. Out of Our Minds is a natural companion to The Element. It looks in more depth at why the need to develop our natural talents – especially creativity – is so pressing; at how organizations and education tend to stifle them in the first place and what they can do to promote them.
My aims in the new edition of Out of Our Minds are to help people to understand the depth of their creative abilities and why they might have doubted them; to encourage organizations to believe in their powers of innovation and to create the conditions where they will flourish; and to promote a creative revolution in education. So if you did read the first edition of Out of Our Minds, you should not be deterred from buying (or borrowing) and reading the new one. It is very different in many ways and I think you will find enough that is new to repay a second look. If you’re reading it for the first time, whether you work in business, education, the not-for-profit sector, or if you are concerned about your own creative potential, I think you will find a lot in it to interest you and give you the confidence to be even more creative in your life and work, whatever and wherever it is.