Recognizing Creative Genius is Hard….Here’s Why

| By Editorial Staff

Creative genius is a driving force behind innovation and success in business. Imagine what would happen to your company if you made a little more room in your values and goals for innovators and their ideas.

Creative awareness and problem-solving go together. It means coming up with ways to work smarter, developing ideas that can save millions of dollars or changing old business practices that will make a real difference in the lives of your customers.

Many ingenious ideas are swiftly dismissed by those with influence. When FedEx founder Fred Smith presented his idea for an overnight delivery service to one of his business professors at Yale, the teacher told Smith, “In order to earn better than a ‘C’ the idea must be feasible.” Now, look at what FedEx has done to the postal service.

Even some of the most respected business leaders are guilty of dismissing innovative ideas too quickly. Digital Equipment Company (DEC) was at the top of the computer industry from the 1950s through the early 1990s. Back in 1977, DEC President Ken Olsen was asked about the future of computers. Olson was quoted as saying, “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” Obviously, Steve Jobs wasn’t listening.

Don’t be intimidated by the challenge of creative genius. Nancy Andreasen is one of the country’s leading neuroscientists. In her most recent study she analyzed the thought processes of 13 people who easily fit the genius category, including a couple of Pulitzer Prize winners, six Nobel laureates, Oscar winner George Lucas and author Jane Smiley.

Dr. Andreasen’s studies showed that a fundamental element of creative thinking is making associations between things and connecting them in unconventional ways. This is prime territory for forming revolutionary ideas. Dr. Andreasen described genius in a very simple context: “The essence of creativity is making connections and solving puzzles.”

All his life Albert Einstein looked at problems from unusual angles. A very young Einstein asked himself, “What would it be like to run beside a light beam at the speed of light?” He wouldn’t approach problems based on his own assumptions or in the same way most everyone else would. He’d rethink the questions themselves.

You don’t have to be an Einstein to view the world from different angles. So many inventions have come about by asking the most basic questions like “What if….?” and “Why not?” Such simple questions can open our minds and widen our perspective of the world.

There’s a commercial for an investment company where the kid asks his dad why things are the way they are with managing his investments. The boy’s “Why not?” is so simple. It’s curiosity at its best. It’s one of those way-too-obvious questions that leads to breakthroughs, yet one that most of wouldn’t think to ask.

As it turns out, genius has less to do with the size of your mind than how open it is.