Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Sting on Risk and Challenge

Enroute to the 2010 Christa Mcauliffe Technology Conference in Manchester, New Hampshire, I read Anthony DeCurtis’ article “Rock n Roll Yogi” in the November 2010 issue of Delta Sky magazine. In the article, Anthony quotes Sting as saying:

I don’t think that anything that doesn’t involve a risk is worth doing. There needs to be some element of danger, some element of me completely failing, for the thing to be worthwhile. When you succeed against that, it feels so much better. So I like being challenged. I like doing things that are difficult.

Sting is unquestionably a gifted and creative musical artist. It is interesting as well as instructive to learn how he views potential failure as well as challenges as essential ingredients to the way he lives his life. Creativity requires re-invention and constant renewal.

How are you finding ways today to re-create yourself and explore new boundaries? Those could be boundaries of creative expression or simply of experience. Novel inputs challenge our brains to accommodate and assimilate new ideas in new ways. While everyone does not seem to thrive on change or in the midst of change, I definitely think creative growth requires change. Whether or not we adopt positive attitudes in the face of change is a personal decision with far reaching consequences.

Do students in your class seem content with routine and normalcy? Traditional classrooms thrive on routines. Many people (adults as well as young people) are severely challenged when normal routines are disrupted, however. Despite this common preference for predictable patterns, life remains dynamic and full of change. We each need to develop and extend our personal capacities to adapt to change and thrive amidst uncertainties. We need to share at least a bit of the passion Sting has for new challenges, risk, and the potential for failure with our students and our own children.

Creativity requires the act of creating new things – Things which were once “merely” ideas, but thanks to our efforts now take physical form or are manifested visibly for others to experience with us.

Think about lessons from your own schooling background which you still remember vividly today. Were those lessons “routine and normal,” or were they extraordinary in some way? Were those memorable lessons “educational outliers?” Perhaps this week you can find a way to share that experience with others, and reflect on why it was memorable and/or significant.

I think we need more educational outliers. We should NOT encourage others to take unreasonable risks or face overwhelming challenges alone, but we definitely should explore together the vital roles risk, challenge and failure play in growth as well as creativity.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

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3 responses to “Sting on Risk and Challenge”

  1. Susan Rice Avatar
    Susan Rice

    I’m getting ready to teach parents what they need to know about their child(ren)’s digital citizenship. Its never been done in my school district, and makes me nervous. The risk of failure, however, challenges me to do my very best, avoiding being a factor in possible failure but being a part of its success.

  2. Lauren Myrick Avatar


    I liked this post! I think you hit the nail on the head when you talk about creativity and changing routines in the classroom. When I thought about the lessons I went through in school, and which ones I remembered the most, it is always the ones that were not routine at all. I remember my Calculus teacher took us to the front of the school at the beginning of class and made us push doors open and watch the way the speed of the door changed at certain intervals of time, and how we could apply that to a graph, and then to Calculus. It was very fun to take a different approach to learning, by finally doing a hands-on lesson, then by sitting and staring at a screen. I believe that this lesson was an ” educational outlier” because out of the entire semester of lessons Monday through Friday, I remember this one lesson the most, and I also remember what I learned!
    I think all teachers should find some way to incorporate extraordinary lessons in with their routine plans. This can help keep their students’ attention, and could also help the teacher learn and be creative! After reading this post, I now know that I must be creative with my lessons! I must harness my own creativity everyday! Thank you for your wonderful thoughts

  3. Steven Dahlberg Avatar

    In an interview many years ago, in which Sting was asked how he’d categorize a particular new release of his, he responded that he doesn’t like to ghettoize his music. It struck me then that “ghetto” is such a much better and richer metaphor than “box” — as in “thinking out of the ghetto” rather than “thinking out of the box.” For most people, the ghetto conjures up initially negative concepts. But when pushed, there are positive things about ghettos, too. And putting this in the creativity context, creativity can help us think beyond the ghettos that block our creativity, purpose and expression. Thanks, Sting, for your on-going contributions to creativity!