What exactly is creativity? I was thinking about this topic over the weekend as I was helping my son with a particularly challenging project. His challenge though had nothing to do with capability, but he was simply working from a smaller store of experiences. I could see what the assignment called for and what he wanted to do, so I connected that with my experiences to help him approach the project from a different perspective.
Then I saw an intriguing quote in a blog post (which was terrible, like most posts on LinkedIn). Anyway, the quote was from Steve Jobs in an extended interview back in 1995 (if you have not seen the interview, it is quite amazing).
“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it. They just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while; that’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people. Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences.”
Now, there are certainly very gifted individuals in our world that seem to just figure things out. However, even folks such as Steve Jobs needed a wellspring of experiences early in life and throughout his career to achieve to the level he did. Much can be accomplished in life by digging deeply and becoming a master in a field. But the truly transcendent breakthroughs come through those connections our minds make because we have collected a diversity of experiences. Those are the most exciting ideas and often create the most disruptive startups, technologies and businesses.
Image Credit: CC by Capture Queen