EXCERPT FROM A BLINDING FLASH OF THE OBVIOUS
“Mediators should be considered a distinct group of creative people!”
That was my Blinding Flash of the Obvious as a mediator studying creativity. This BFO occurred as I read about a study done in the early 1960’s on creativity in architects. Researcher MacKinnon1 theorized that architects were a special group of creative individuals; those who he predicted “revealed that which is most characteristic of a creative person.” MacKinnon concluded that architects must be artists (right brained) if their designs “are to give delight.” On the other hand, architects must also be engineers (left brained) if their designs are to be technologically sound and efficiently planned. With that in mind, MacKinnon began a study to measure the differences in the degree to which architects had maximized and realized their creative potential. (Notice MacKinnon was not measuring their artistic or spatial abilities.) He conducted a battery of tests, surveys and inventories to measure the following:
• the nature of the individual’s socialization and his interpersonal behavior.
• the level of richness or complexity of his psychological development.
• the degree of personal soundness or psychological health he manifested.
Here is what MacKinnon2 wrote in the early sixties when most architects were men, so there is room to forgive him for his non-inclusive language. Of the most creative architects, he concluded:
What is most impressive … is the degree to which they have actualized their creative potentialities. They have become in large measure the persons they were capable of becoming. Since they are not preoccupied with the impression they make on others or the demands that others make on them, they are freer …to set their own standards and to achieve them in their own fashion … Their behavior is guided by aesthetic values and standards which they have set for themselves and of their ideals. They are perhaps the prototype of the person of strong ego, the man of will and deed. Confident of themselves and basically self-accepting, they are to an unusual degree able to recognize and give expression to most aspects of inner experience and character and thus are able to more fully be themselves and to realize their own ideals.
It was while reading the results of MacKinnon’s research that I had my BFO: that experienced dedicated mediators, as a group, exhibit these same traits in their socialization and interpersonal behavior, in the richness and complexity of their psychological development, and their degree of mental health. I maintain that without those traits they could not be effective mediators.
1. MacKinnon, D.W. (1965), Architects, Personality Types, and Creativity. In Rothenberg, A. & Hausman, C. R. (Eds.). (1976). The creativity question. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, p. 176.