I mentioned in my last post that leaders need to acquire fresh eyes to see the creative opportunities and solutions that surround them. Creativity is not always about running with the first solution or idea that occurs to you, rather, it’s searching for a better one. This is because most of the time, the first idea or solution is not usually the best one. It is hard work to dig deeper for more ideas because the natural default is to settle for the first ones. Creativity demands perseverance. Thomas Edison, the famous inventor of the light bulb and who is widely regarded as a creative genius, said that “genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration”. This also applies to creativity. Creative leaders may make it look easy but there is a lot of sweat and toil involved.
According to Michael Michalko, a distinguishing characteristic of creative individuals is their immense productivity. They tend to produce a lot more good ideas than their counterparts but they also produce more bad ideas as well. They are prolific; discarding the bad ideas out of the large quantity of ideas that they produce and retaining the good ones which are presented to the general public as solutions or products.
Thomas Edison at the time of his death in 1931 held 1,093 patents which is still a record for one individual. His immense creative output was as a result of setting idea quotas for himself. This required him to come up with a minor invention every 10 days and a major invention every 6 months. The art of thinking creatively became habitual for Edison because he had trained his mind to think at a higher level as a result of the challenging idea quotas he set for himself. The mind is quite elastic but only if you stimulate and challenge it.
We live in a world powered by ideas, hence, leaders need to emulate Edison by setting idea quotas for themselves as they seek to move their organisations and teams forward. You will only really grow as a creative leader when you set challenging, measurable and specific idea goals that stretch your mind.