You’re Creative and Have Great Ideas — Now What?

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We love stories about flashes of sudden inspiration. Archimedes called the famous eureka, loosely translated as I already have it! – after going to the bathroom and watching the water rise. This gave him an idea of ​​a question about the volume and density for which he had been struggling for days.

But contrary to what might seem, Archimedes’ eureka moment was not an extraordinary epiphany. A brilliant physicist, mathematician, engineer and inventor, Archimedes had spent his life laying the groundwork for that revelation of bath time.

The problem with our fixation on creative genius is that it ignores the effort involved in cultivating it. Another example is a famous, possibly apocryphal, tale about Pablo Picasso. Picasso was sitting in a cafe when a man approached him with a napkin. “Can you draw something on this napkin for me?” The man asked. “I’ll pay you whatever you want for it.”

Picasso agreed, grabbed the napkin and quickly drew the image of a goat. “It will be $ 100,000,” he told the man as he returned it.

“$ 100,000!” The indignant man replied. “It only took you 30 seconds!”

“You’re wrong,” Picasso said, crumpling his work and putting it in his pocket. “It took me 40 years.”

There is no doubt that both Archimedes and Picasso were deeply creative thinkers. But that quality alone would not have been enough to imprint them on the annals of history. Creativity is important, even necessary, for those who want to do great things. But even the most creative mind in the world will not be much without hard work.

Creativity and hard work

Entrepreneurship is an act of balance, and one of the questions that arises over and over again is which is more important: creativity or hard work? As frustrating as it may sound, the answer is both.

Hard work by itself produces diminishing returns. You can start every day at five in the morning and finish at eight in the evening, but crushing yourself will not necessarily lead to success. It will most likely lead to exhaustion, frustration, and exhaustion. The jobs that almost everyone can do can be tedious, exhausting and exhausting, but they are also not usually very profitable.

Creativity, on the other hand, can lead to great ideas. And more great ideas. And even bigger ideas. But unless you also work hard, these ideas will not come true; ideas will simply stay forever.

Look for inspiration everywhere and everywhere

We tend to think of creativity as something that a person has or does not have. This is not really true. Creativity seems to reach some of us more easily than others. But sometimes it’s just a matter of getting the juices out.

In my business, we do what we call piracy weeks. The idea of ​​the piracy weeks, in which our teams have five days without interruption to fully focus on a naked issue, came up after we tried our hand at hackathons. The problem was that our hackathons were only meant to be one-day events. But they kept pouring, often over the weekend. Hackathons were always meant to be nice, but not at the expense of employees ’personal time. Instead, I started hacking weeks from Monday to Friday that allow everyone to have plenty of time to let their creativity flourish without eating their life.

Clearly, this was the right choice: our weeks of hacking have yielded some of our most important innovations. It’s amazing what your brain is able to achieve once the anxieties of the daily routine clear up. We’ve even done hacking weeks that include not only developers, but all of the company’s teams. This allows employees with different knowledge and backgrounds to learn from each other. Creativity, after all, rarely goes into the void.

You don’t have to hack for a week to take advantage of your own creativity. Giving yourself time and space to think, talking to people inside and outside your industry, reading a wide range of books and articles are good ways to stretch your mind.

Related: 5 Ways to Unlock Your Entrepreneurial Creativity

The role of self-discipline …

“The inspiration is for the fans. The rest of us just show up and get to work.” – Chuck Close

Since ancient times, writers and artists of all styles have sought inspiration from their muses. How do you explain why creativity sometimes flows non-stop, only to dry up when it seems like we need it most?

The reality is that no one who has ever done anything wants to sit down to work one hundred percent of the time. As William Faulkner once blatantly put it: “I only write when I’m inspired. Luckily, I’m inspired at nine in the morning every morning.”

One of the hardest parts to create when you don’t feel like it is the fear of not doing your best. These fears may not be unfounded. James Clear compares this to being a gold miner: “You have to sift pounds of earth, rock and silt just to find a piece of gold in the middle of it all.”

Seen from this lens, it is clear that the issue is not creativity vs. hard work. Creativity is hard work.

Related: Creativity is your best tool for solving problems: here’s how …

… and luck

We don’t usually like to think that luck is a factor in our success. If you are creative and hardworking enough, shouldn’t success be guaranteed?

Anyone who has ever had a start-up failure (who, statistically, are the majority of start-ups), understands that even the brightest plans don’t always come out. The place where you were born, who your parents were and the environment in which we grew up inevitably puts some of us ahead of others, writes Michael Shermer in American scientist. Even the age in which you live can play a role: “Would Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin be among the richest and most successful people in the world if they were born in 1873 instead of 1973?” Shermer wonders. Since they are both brilliant and hardworking, the answer is probably yes: after all, luck favors the prepared mind. But would they have been two of the most influential people on the planet? It is impossible to know for sure.

If there’s one recipe for success, it’s probably hard work, creativity, and luck. How much varies from person to person and situation to situation. Everyone on their own is good. Together, they are unstoppable.

Related: Why your creativity is your most valuable skill

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