I have been reading and re-reading the book “How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci” by Michael J. Gelb. I want to be creative. I am in a profession that is known for not being creative, but consistent. Accounting, I am told, is boring. I refuse to be boring. So what makes one creative? The first criteria, in my view, is curiosity. You want to know how something works; you want to know what makes “it” tick and how it got that way. The next natural step from curiosity is a quest for continuous learning. When we were children, we always asked, “why” and “how” and “where does that come from?” A creative person never outgrows that desire to learn about something and to keep learning. The third step in developing creativity is to take disparate ideas, concepts or objects and mix, match or blend those items. Creativity is reframing. That means looking at things differently. Some of the best commercial successes came from mixing ideas; take the smartphone. This electronic gem holds our day planner, makes phone calls and entertains us. Who needs an organizer, a telephone and a laptop when you have a smartphone.
Finally, creativity is being persistent and not afraid to fail. When you have a new idea, there are always those who poo poo it. Negative people surround us and although their input helps to make your ideas stronger, a creative person keeps trying and addresses the negative comments. One of the most famous who was not afraid to fail was Thomas Edison, who wisely said that he had 99 attempts and one success. The energy we employ to create great ideas also creates great failures. Those failures are just lessons; steps on the ladder to the holy grail.
Most business innovations are inspired by the question that starts with “what if…?” Creativity is the necessary ingredient to answer that question. As Leonardo da Vinci said, “I wish to work miracles…”