I attended a wonderful lecture last night about creativity. How do we measure creativity? How can it be studied from a scientific standpoint? How can we learn to become more creative and why are some creative types more successful than others? Good questions. Jonah Lehrer has written a book, Imagine: How Creativity Works . He clearly did a lot of research and yet was able to present his findings in a way that the less scientific of us could understand and enjoy. He held the sold out crowd of 800 in rapt attention as he spoke to us about creativity, passion and science.
He spoke of moments of insight, creative bursts, epiphanies; that magic moment when a creative idea strikes. He reminds us of the times when we are struggling with a problem and the solution seems out of reach until we relax and only then our brain will give us the answer.
He suggests that we all allow ourselves a time of meditation or down time to allow our alpha waves to do their thing. Einstein said that creativity is a residue of wasted time . One should make time to waste time. The next time you go for a walk, take a shower or grab a quick nap, remember you are really focusing on being unfocused. Let your creative ideas come in.
Once you have the creative burst, what makes one person more successful with the follow-through? Studies show that it’s more about levels of grit; the successful person sticks with their plan no matter the amount of frustration, no matter who tells them it can’t be done. They’re the ones who just keep showing up again and again, never to be discouraged. Grit, persistence and stubbornness! It’s their ability to hold on to the passion of their dream.
I’m anxious to read the book, which I started as soon as I got home. Mr. Lehrer and I spoke briefly as he was signing my copy. I told him these studies remind me a lot of what my mother always taught me: “Stop focusing on the problem, but keep your mind open and the ideas will come in. ” Yes”, he agreed, “sleep on it! Our moms know a lot of things” he said. I agree. Thanks mom! Check out his book. And then make some time to waste time. It’s good for you!