Most creativity and innovation in organizations, flickers and fades. Most often because we still see it as a flash point, a ‘eureka’ moment, when it’s truly about perseverance.
Ideas, like stars, don’t just fall out of the sky. Rather, we are responsible for pushing those ideas up into the sky so that they can be seen, just like the millions of other stars.
The best ideas aren’t born with feet, ready to run, you have to create the space and environment for them to grow and gain momentum. Ideas are a dime a dozen, but that is all that they are, until we decide to do something with them, to turn them into an action.
Which is why leaders have to understand that it is not only in the discovery of new ideas, it is in finding ways to give those ideas legs so they can run.
Unfortunately, we have a tendency to let many, if not most of those ideas just slip and fade away. We have a tendency to believe that we are not creative, nor innovative, so we don’t push forward with the belief that those ideas are worth exploring, worth giving legs, too.
We have to learn that, if we want creativity and innovation to flourish, that we will have to dissuade ourselves, as well as those we lead, from the perpetuating belief that creativity and innovation is either a ‘gene’ we are born with or a ‘eureka’ moment that hits us when we least expect it.
Creativity and innovation require initiative, it’s less of a ‘eureka’ moment, as it is applying ongoing perseverance and stick-to-it-ness.
Even when we think of those ‘eureka’ moments from the gold rush, there was a lot of time, effort and hard work put in panning for gold before that first sparkle ever lit up the bottom of that pan.
Which is why we have to learn to believe that we all have the creative ‘gene.’
But, do we have the perseverance necessary and required to sift through a lot of silt and rocks before we find that sparkle and shine at the bottom of the pan?
In The Myths of Creativity by David Burkus, he expounds on this fabled, ”notion that all creative ideas arrive in a “eureka” moment. We tell stories about other people’s genius ideas as if the idea came suddenly; we conveniently gloss over the tireless concentration that came before the insight, or the hard work of developing the idea that will come afterward.”
Burkus shares in The Myths of Creativity the work of psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and his study of “creative individuals” to “understand how they believed they generated their creative insight. In short, he was looking for how they produced their eureka moments, if they produced them at all.”
What David Burkus highlights in The Myths of Creativity, from the work of Csikszentmihalyi, was that, ”almost all of the people he studied shared a similar creative process that consisted of five stages: preparation, incubation, insight, evaluation, and elaboration.”
This work shows us that creativity and innovation is far from any ‘eureka’ moment, and much more tied to stick-to-it-ness and perseverance.
What we are learning is that creativity and innovation is not something we are born with, it is something we work at, work towards. It requires a lot of effort and hard work. And it is from this ongoing effort and hard work that seemingly instantaneous flashes and ‘eureka’ moments appear.
Creativity and innovation aren’t hammers that hit us over the head. Rather, they are the aftermath of the gritty, grapple and struggle that perseverance requires.