While most of us aren’t aiming to become the next Steve Jobs or Claude Monet, everyone can use a bit more creativity in their lives. However, what if you are trying to become a creative genius? What if your passions revolve around harnessing your creative talent and releasing it as a product or service to those around you? What do you do then?
Well, I don’t have all of the answers, and honestly I don’t think anyone does. If you look at the lives of a hundred geniuses, I doubt you’ll find any completely identical paths. What you will find however, are a couple of common threads. There are recurring themes that are pervasive throughout their lives, and though many times there are innate abilities, there are also plenty of habits and best practices that you can emulate in your own journey.
No creative genius woke up one day and said “This is it. Today is the day that I’ll be great!” Sometimes it might appear that way, but we know that in reality these people spent hours honing their craft, learning from others, and working through difficult times to come out on the other side as a more capable person.
Practicing an art takes more than effort and time, it takes the knowledge to know what to practice, how to practice, and what good results look like to make true progress. If you spend all of your time practicing something incorrectly, or aiming for the wrong thing, you’re going to end up with poor results.
A Learning Mentality
If you think you know everything, then there’s no reason to keep trying harder. There’s nothing that kills creativity faster than failing to learn. It could come in the form of learning from others directly, learning from them indirectly through books and other materials, or learning from yourself and your triumphs and failures. Whatever the source, the ability to continually learn keeps you informed on what advancements have been made and leverages the work of dozens of others all trying to achieve the same thing.
If after the first failure you gave up, there’s no chance in becoming a creative genius. If after the one-hundredth time you gave up, there would still be no chance in becoming a creative genius. Creativity is about pushing boundaries and looking for new ways to attack problems that may have been around for centuries. That means lots of failures, and lots of attempts that end with nothing to show, but some unusable parts or failed plans. But that’s okay, because attempts are what gives you more to learn from and tons of practice, both of which are key parts to developing your creative genius.
Obviously, failure is not something to aspire to, but neither is it something to avoid at all costs. Aversion to failure leads to taking the safe road every time, to always looking for the easiest, most foolproof way to attack a problem, and to making decisions that aren’t stretching you very far out of your comfort zone. And that’s exactly what leads to mediocrity.