Art, Geek, Science

The Source of Creativity and Why It All Matters

At its core, creativity is what makes our economy move forward. We typically associate creativity with the arts — art, literature, music, film and so on — and that’s certainly true, but creativity is also what powers the sciences.

Think of the iPhone, for example. Apple used a team of engineers to develop the nuts and bolts of what would become the world’s most popular smartphone, developing software, hardware and the technical aspects of what makes the iPhone work. But even an engineering marvel starts with creativity. When the late Steve Jobs and his team of engineers conceptualized the first iPhone, it was just as much a creative marvel as it was an engineering one.

In science, technology, engineering, math and business, creativity is what fuels the economy. But what makes it so important, where does it come from, and how can we improve creativity for ourselves?

What is Creativity, Really?

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How do you define creativity? Many people see it as the end result of something original, such as a painting, new song, or best-selling novel. But those are just products of creativity, and not every product is so obvious. A new process at the office could be a creative feat, or maybe a new bridge design that doesn’t look special but is more efficient and safer to use. Creativity is everywhere, in every industry, and almost everything we see around us is part of that creative process.

The Importance of Creativity

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Chris Sacca is a billionaire and investor in some of Silicon Valley’s most successful companies, including Twitter and Uber. He could talk to you all day about his routine and methods for discovering and working with the best startups in America, but he has one particular focus that other investors sometimes ignore: good writing.

When Sacca sends quarterly reports to his investors, he doesn’t make a spreadsheet and call it a day. Investors want the numbers, but what they need is context. The billionaire investor writes rich, detailed report summaries that tell a story and says it helps paint the picture for investors who might have trouble seeing anything beyond the final number under “profit.”

The Science of Creativity

Genius or Madness? The Psychology of Creativity – Professor Glenn D. Wilson

While some people are just naturally more creative than others, it’s still a skill to be learned and not just a hereditary trait with which to be born. The “left brain vs. right brain” argument is complete science fiction, as the real science behind creativity is much more complicated.

While the Scientific American published an article describing the complexities of creativity in the brain, it comes down to one truth: creativity is a muscle than can be trained and exercised. Just like you build muscles in the gym, you can improve your creativity in your career, hobbies, or really any place in general.

Hone Your Creative Juices

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Don’t fall for the “brain exercise” apps you see on your iPhone. They can be entertaining, but do little to improve creativity or brain power. Here are a few things you can do every day to continue to improve your own creative process:

  • Always learn something new: It doesn’t matter if it comes from Meetup groups, networking opportunities, or YouTube videos. Continuing your education (and that doesn’t have to be college) will build and maintain creativity.
  • Keep writing and use writing exercises: It really is a “use-it-or-lose-it” skill, so keep using it.
  • Keep reading, and keep exploring new genres of both novels, short stories and even blogs.

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