There’s a wonderful quote from Albert Szent-Györgyi, which I’d like to share with you. It’s a simple, powerful insight into how geniuses think creatively.
“Genius is seeing what everyone else sees and thinking what no one else has thought.”
Szent-Györgyi is best known, as the man who discovered vitamin C. Vitamin C had always been there. Every time someone ate an orange, they were holding, looking at and consuming vitamin C. However, no one before Albert Szent-Györgyi had ever thought about vitamin C.
Creative thinking: From oranges to apples
Millions of people saw apples fall from trees. It was only Sir Isaac Newton who asked, “why?”.
Here’s the thing: We each possess a unique mind. However, it takes courage to use it uniquely… rather than accept perceived wisdom and false limitations.
In a 1963 speech, President John F Kennedy made a powerful statement regarding the importance of artistic freedom.
“If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him. […]”
It’s natural to think of oppressive regimes when we consider freedoms being suppressed. However, just as “society must set the artist free” to follow their vision, the artist also needs to liberate themselves. They need to break free from the barriers that stop them from producing their best work. Principally, this means overcoming the fear of criticism, which stops millions of people from creating and sharing their art.
As Andy Warhol famously said: “Don’t think about making art. Just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they’re deciding, make even more art.”
That’s worth considering, the next time you think you’re suffering from a creative block.
Photo credit: ARTwear.ch
Creativity takes courage. That’s because an essential element of creativity is the willingness to make mistakes.
The challenge is that we have been programmed to think of mistakes as failures. They are not. Mistakes are stepping stones on the way to our best art or work. Mistakes provide us with proof… proof that we are trying something new, rather than playing it safe within our comfort zone.
Here’s a suggestion
If you find yourself suffering from any kind of creative block, give yourself permission to make more mistakes.
Just don’t keep repeating the same mistake. Learn, adjust and move on.
Apple’s Jonathan Ive shares some thoughts on the role of simplicity in design:
“Simplicity is not the absence of clutter, that’s a consequence of simplicity. Simplicity is somehow essentially describing the purpose and place of an object and product. The absence of clutter is just a clutter-free product. That’s not simple”.
Anyone can remove clutter. Simplicity requires us to understand what the basics are and to have the courage to ignore the rest.
Have you ever been unaware of a noise, until the noise suddenly stops?
You know, like when someone outside is using a lawnmower, and you suddenly notice the silence, when they turn the lawnmower off?
Our minds work like that. Very often, something is blocking us from being able to think with clarity or focus. Yet, we don’t realise it, until that thing is removed.
Worth considering, the next time you’re struggling to create.
I wrote recently about how tablets and mobile phones were far more than mere consumption devices. Today, I’d like to share an example of exactly what I mean.
One of the things I have always loved about writing on paper with a pen or pencil, is the tactile connection between the page and my hand. Writing via a keyboard has always felt like there was too much distance between me [my fingers], which were on the keyboard, and the page, which was on the screen of my computer.
It seemed somehow disconnected. This wasn’t much of an issue, until I needed to write something creative. Then, I’d always need to start by fleshing the ideas out on paper first. I’d only use my MacBook after the creative element of the composition was in place.
Then I decided to try something new
I decided to see how it felt, literally, writing with a tablet device, where my fingers connect directly with the screen. I immediately noticed that I felt closer to the words… not just in a literal sense, but closer mentally.
If you own a tablet device, give it a try. Whilst nothing is quite like using a nice pen or a freshly sharpened pencil, a large screen tablet device provides another tool for your creative arsenal. The creative experience is certainly different enough from using a traditional keyboard, for it to change your creative state.
That’s worth remembering, the next time you’re struggling for inspiration at your keyboard.
You need to be really careful about the limitations you place on yourself. This brief article explains why.
I’d like to start by asking you a question: When was the last time you consciously thought about, what’s really possible for you?
One of the reasons children are so creative, is that they are open to all possibilities. We all start off that way. Then, as we grow up, we apply various filters to our thinking, as we determine what is and is not possible for us. The challenge, is that we often get it wrong. This causes us to wrongly remove possibilities from our decision making and creative thinking, which unnecessarily restricts us.
Understanding what is and is not possible for you
Imagine Bob tried to play the guitar when he was 12 and found it extremely hard, then quit. He then decides he can’t play the guitar and being a guitarist gets added to the list of things that are not possible for him. Now, Bob also discovered as a kid, that he couldn’t fly like superman, after he tried to take flight, Superman style, when jumping from a tree.
Bob’s flying like Superman experience was filtered as not possible, based on fact. His guitar experience was filtered as not possible, based on fiction. If Bob really wanted to play guitar, with the right tuition and a tuned guitar, he would get there and play to a lesser or greater degree. With enough practice, he could then become very good.
Just like Bob, we too make similar, incorrect decisions on what is and is not possible for us.
Rethinking my possibilities
In 2002, I decided to rethink what was and was not possible for me. I had a successful, traditional marketing business in London, England. My challenge was that I was passionate about working in marketing, but wanted to move with my wife, to live in the countryside, where there were few potential clients. My initial thought was this isn’t possible, I need to be where my clients are. As I didn’t want to waste hours each day travelling, it seemed I was destined to stay in London and put my dream of a home in the countryside on ice for 30 years, until I retired. UNLESS I found another way.
So, my challenge was to find an alternative way to deliver my services and run a viable business. I decided to embrace the technology available 10 years ago, and deliver my services remotely. It worked. Beautifully. Instead of working with people in my local area, I had clients worldwide and still do today. Within 12 months, I was living in my dream home, working fewer hours, running an extremely successful international marketing business and earning more than I used to when I was in London.
Still today, I know people who say they would love to relocate as I did, but that it’s just not possible.
Rethinking your possibilities
Take time out today to rethink your own possibilities.
In particular, examine the stories you have told yourself, which may have wrongly removed possibilities from your treasure chest of options.