Author Justine Musk Gives A Motivational Speech at TEDxUIUC about Creativity

Published: Mon May 08 2017

The TEDxUIUC Talk held at the Krannert Center for Performing Arts at the University of Illinois this last April turned out to be the most popular of the Ted Talks given at the University. The TEDxUIUC 2017 Talk was titled Creative Chaos and was the largest event the University has ever seen. The most inspiration speaker of the event was author, Justine Musk. The noted author of "Bloodangel" and "Lord of Bones" spoke extensively about how visionaries have the ability to make major changes in the world around them with what they have at their disposable.

Justine Musk is no stranger to the TedTalk circuit. Her popular TEDxOlympicBlvd Women Talk titled " The Art of the Deep Yes" and her TEDxSanFrancisco talk "Wounded People tell Better Stories" were some of the most popular talks about motivation, inspiration and creativity. Her talk at TEDxUIUC was no different. As the last speaker of the evening, Musk had a tough act to follow but she delivered a rousing speech that the crowd loved.

She opened her talk discussing the balance between creativity and darkness. She says that both artists and entrepreneurs are very similar in the aspect that they create masterpieces from nothing. "We refer to (darkness) as anything that has not been brought out to the light, that lives in the space beyond boundaries, beyond our comfort zone, where a lot of us do not want to go," Musk said. "Artists and entrepreneurs are alike in that they are both obsessed in creating something out of nothing with pulling value from the dark."

She speaks about how these visionaries were most likely a "geek or outsider, socially awkward, weird, a little different, or odd-one-out" growing up and that later in life they blossomed into success stories. She uses a story about her son, who was once diagnosed with mild to moderate autism when he was 4 years old but now is considered off the spectrum, to illustrate how strength and vulnerability are both important aspects to being a visionary. Her son asked her one day about what a photographic memory is because everyone says that he has one. She explained what it meant to have a photographic memory and in response he said, "You mean other people don’t think like that?"

This story reminded her that "What sets you apart can serve as a unique, differentiating factor, but it can also make you a target," Musk continued on, "Any kid who has ever spent time on the school playground knows this is a risky position for anybody to take."

Her talk took a turn when she began to discuss the tradition behind the word scapegoat. Originally it was a ritual where the villagers of a town would select a goat and then heap their sins onto the goat. That goat would then be chased out of the town taking the sins of the villagers with it, never to return. She states, "So it was a cleansing ritual, but also a bonding ritual because part of saying ‘this is us’ is pointing to someone and saying ‘you are not one of us’," Musk said, "Which has a way of segueing into ‘oh and, by the way, it’s all your fault.’" Musk believes that this relates to how some people treat the world and other people today, especially women.

"The women in my audience, we have spent part, if not most, if not all of our lives trying to amputate those parts of ourselves that did not fit and we try to be pleasing and we try to do what’s expected and we suck at it," Musk said. "And we eventually reach a point where we feel depressed or stuck or numbed out that the only way to save ourselves is to figure out how to be ourselves on purpose."

Musk then gives examples of women who defied what was expected of them and found success by creating their own circle of supportive intellectuals, free thinkers and bohemians who helped to foster creativity. Women like Jane Austen, Emily Dickinson and George Elliot (Mary Anne Evans) lived on the edge where women were not welcome or they were shunned for their brilliant, revolutionary way of thinking.

The talk ended with Musk discussing how important it is to the creative process to delve deeply into the underlying principles of what every subject you chose to pursue. Don’t just pass a test or memorize information, spend the time to truly understand the subject.

About TEDx: In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.
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