“Creativity is just connecting things.” – Steve Jobs
Everybody wants to be more creative. We are told to think “outside the box” and “focus on being creative.”
These recommendations reflect an inherent misunderstanding of where inspiration comes from.
Creativity unfolds subconsciously. It rarely happens purposefully and when it does, it is a byproduct of a more fundamental truth: creativity happens at intersections.
Novelty stems from the clash of cultures, mindsets, worldviews, and ideas. Assorted inputs churn original outputs.
To illustrate the creative power of intersections, we can to travel back to 15th and 16th century Florence, a city that launched Europe out of the Dark Ages, and inspired imaginative art, ideas, and architecture.
Unlike previous generations, the Florentines looked to previous generations and different cultures for inspiration. They welcomed the influx of scientists, philosophers and artists into their social spheres. As a result, Florence inspired avant-garde ideas and figures such as Leonardo DaVinci and Michaelangelo. Renaissance Florence thrived as the cultural melting pot that inspired ingenuity and kickstarted the scientific revolution.
More recently, Steve Jobs drew inspiration from his own blend of rich experiences. In college, he experimented with LSD and dropped in on a typography class that seemed inconsequential at the time. He traveled to India and discovered Zen Meditation. Those experiences shaped his passion for simplicity and elegant computing.
Creativity does not unfold straightforwardly. One cannot inspire somebody to be creative through mere direction. It cannot be constructed. Rather, creativity is a byproduct of random composition — a child-like playfulness that transcends to supple contemplation and then inspires conscious action.
Creativity is the natural offspring of the human mind digesting abstract experiences and making them lucid. A fusion of touch, taste, sound, smell, and sight — the erratic brilliance of the human mind.
Great ideas are resting in plain sight, waiting for curious minds to synthesize them.
Creativity is the brainchild of insatiable curiosity, wide-ranging diversity, serendipity, and spontaneity.
Ingenuity is the natural byproduct of conscious action and subconscious contemplation. Creativity, then, is not a matter of fact, but rather a matter of being.