Mr. Cleese is a very good (and entertaining) speaker and his main points hit on some great strategies for making our own personal activities as musicians more playful and inspired.
The creative process begins, he argues, with setting boundaries and establishing an oasis where we can feel free to play and create. In this sense, boundaries are what allow us the freedom to create.
He delivers five salient points:
You can’t become playful, and therefore creative, if you’re under your usual pressures.
It’s not enough to create space; you have to create your space for a specific period of time.
3.) Time (Persistence)
Give your mind as long as possible to come up with something original and learn to tolerate the discomfort of pondering time and indecision.
Nothing will stop you being creative so effectively as the fear of making a mistake.
Under this point he makes an excellent comment about being serious in your business, as opposed to being solemn. One mindset implies humor and play, while the other implies pomposity and self-importance. There is a clear distinction worth observing and taking to heart.
The main evolutionary significance of humor is that it gets us from the closed mode to the open mode quicker than anything else.
Two modes of creativity
Mr. Cleese goes on to describe creativity as operating in two modes: open and closed.
In the open mode, we are free to create and brainstorm without restriction, in closed mode we narrow our focus and fine-tune the process. The total process of creativity involves shifting between these two modes.
He notes that all too often, we can get stuck in the closed mode. In politics for example, the adrenaline of the atmosphere can become very addictive (and restrictive). The desire to ponder problems openly becomes much more difficult while stuck this mode.
The entire presentation is about 30 minutes and is well worth a listen.