Creativity, Procrastination & Original Thinkers

Creativity, is it doled out in random amounts to each of us at birth? Do some people get a bigger dose than others? Is it part of the great Nature vs Nurture debate? Is it genetic, inherited like blue eyes or blonde hair?

I just watched this TED talk about original thinkers by  Adam Grant, which highlighted three characteristics that were found in people with higher creativity.

Many highly creative people are late starters, they tend to procrastinate, let ideas develop without pressure. They do not rush to be the first to launch a new idea, product or service. But, their ideas, products and services are often more successful in the long run than some of the quick starters.

They do not take failure personally, they accept that failure, sometimes repeated failure is a necessary part of creativity.

Creative people are prolific. Grant uses the huge number of compositions by the great classical composers as an example, Mozart, Bach and Beethoven produced hundreds of compositions, relatively few were masterpieces. The same with artists and inventors like Leonardo da Vinci and Thomas Edison.

Can creativity be nurtured in a highly competitive pressure cooker type environment? Or does it depend on a more relaxed atmosphere to thrive?

It depends.

Creativity can flourish in both conditions.

Innovation can be driven by competition. The space race, weapons and defence systems development during the cold war, yacht design before major races like the America cup. Race car engine and suspension improvements after Formula 1 or Nascar races.

And as Adam Grant has discovered, in periods of quiet reflection, shielded from the pressure to perform. Building on lessons from successive failures to eventually produce something that works.

Some creative people use their original thinking to improve on ideas generated but not successfully developed by others. Steve Jobs didn’t invent the cell phone, but he did improve on the basic design to produce a smart version.

It depends on the person, his or her attitude, the environment, the need, the conditions, the area of interest, the resources or lack thereof, and other factors difficult to discern.

What do you think? When and where do you find your creativity?



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  2 comments for “Creativity, Procrastination & Original Thinkers

  1. April 12, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    Hi Peter!
    This is perhaps one of my favourite posts of yours. It’s given me much to think of. I think creativity for me has always come when there’s a bit of pressure and when I’ve procrastinated. I always found in university that some of my best essays were written the night before! I also think having constraints helps a lot too.
    Great read.

    • Peter
      April 15, 2016 at 11:41 am

      Thanks Gabby, for me it’s a bit of both, like you I sometimes procrastinate and have flashes of inspiration which allow me to get a lot done just when I need it. At other times, the germ of an idea bubbles away in my brain slowly taking (and changing) shape over a long period before it develops into something worth doing.

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