Who would have thought I'd find a great definition for innovative people in poetry? It’s the kind of definition that bridges the brain and the heart, often needed in my line of work.

John Keats was a key figure in English literature and poetry, and he wrote over 250 letters to friends and family during his short life. In a letter to his brothers George and Tom Keats, he outlined a concept called 'Negative Capability,' which is when "man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason."

You should read the whole letter

Negative Capability allows one to be receptive to the full range of human experience without the need to rationalize or categorize immediately. To Keats, this was not a flaw but a strength. Keats’ favorite example was Shakespeare, and his ability to create complex characters who embody conflicting emotions and motivations. His works do not always offer clear moral or logical resolutions, instead presenting life's ambiguity and complexity.

People with Negative Capability are free to create works that do not adhere to a rational, logical framework but explore instead the depths of human emotion and the many complexities of the world — creating beauty out of mystery. Or using today's business language – Innovating.

There is so much emphasis on certainty, productivity, and rationality as signs of good work. While necessary, they accidentally become invisible shackles that prevent groups from imagining what's possible. Innovating requires sitting with things for a while and being open to the full range of experiences that come out of uncertainty. In creative endeavors, business, and even personal growth, allowing for uncertainty and not always seeking immediate answers can lead to deeper insights and more meaningful outcomes.

Help us find truth and beauty in what we do.