Do you have to be highly intelligent to be creative? No. Absolutely not.
The fact is: intelligence (your IQ) can certainly help you when it comes to developing new ideas, but there are a great many ideas out in the world simply waiting for someone to notice them.
Consider the invention of the airplane, or chocolate chip cookies, the iPod or personal computer, the incandescent light bulb, penicillin, or Archimedes’ discovery of how to measure density. Each discovery was the result of not some remarkable genius, but in someone merely being aware of possibilities and not being afraid to tinker with them.
If you don’t know the story of Archimedes and the golden crown, it’s a perfect example of the role curiosity and awareness play in creative ideation.
Tasked with determining whether or not a golden crown was indeed made of solid gold, Archimedes was stumped on how to go solve the challenge without partially destroying the crown to see what was inside. He was frustrated by the problem for some time, day and night. Until one night while getting into a bath, Archimedes noticed the level of the water slowly rise as he dipped his foot into the tub.
When he put his entire body into the tub he noticed how the water level rose significantly more. Realizing he could measure the density of the golden crown by placing it into a tub of water, then comparing that rise against the density of a similar mass of gold, he had solved the problem.
He immediately jumped from his bath, shouting “Eureka!” and stormed off down the city streets stark naked.
This is a popular creative story repeatedly told in-part because it emphasizes how most creative discoveries come about: by paying attention to what’s going on around us.
Of course, at some level it takes intelligence to know what to do once you identify a creative idea. But to have ideas merely requires us to pay attention. To be open to possibilities. To be curious.
To be curious and mindful are the two most important traits which influence our ability to see ideas. Not our level of intelligence, our IQ.
Of course, it never hurts to be a little smarter.
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