What does it really take to be considered a creative genius?
Surprisingly, not much. As it turns out, a creative genius is just like everyone else, with one small exception. They aren’t afraid of pursuing many more ideas than the average person.
That’s all it takes to be a creative genius: actively coming up with ideas, no matter how bizarre or strange or unrealistic. If you look back at some of the world’s greatest creative thinkers, you can quickly see how valid this point is.
Thomas Edison kept literally hundreds of notebooks filled with his ideas for new inventions. Albert Einstein spent his days pursuing dozens of theories, a new dozen for each day. Rosabeth Moss Kanter has written enough books and papers to fill a bookshelf. If you go back and study Pluto or Aristotle you can see that they, too, had far more ideas than the average person.
But that’s not entirely true.
As it turns out, creative geniuses have a good number of ideas floating through their head at any given time. But so do you. The difference between an average thinker and a creative genius, is that the genius knows when to pursue an idea and when to drop it (after recording it in a notebook for reference, of course).
In The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, Nassim Nicholas Taleb explains exactly what it is that seperates the world’s creative geniuses from everyone else:
“The strategy for the discoverers and entrepreneurs is to rely less on top‒down planning and focus on maximum tinkering and recognizing opportunities when they present themselves…The strategy is, then, to tinker as much as possilbe and try to collect as many… opportunities as you can.”
Think about how you think. Are you coming up with a lot of ideas regularly? If not, why not? If you are, what’s preventing you from pursuing them?