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The Creative Curve

How to Develop the Right Idea at the Right Time

By Allen Gannett
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  • Contains 7 key ideas
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The Creative Curve by Allen Gannett
Synopsis

The Creative Curve (2018) provides valuable insights into the true nature of talent. Using examples from scientific research, as well as anecdotal evidence from the careers of certified geniuses, these blinks explore whether creative success is the result of unique inspiration or something far more predictable.

Key idea 1 of 7

Creativity is fueled by purposeful practice, not intelligence.

How creative would you say you are? If you want to find out, start by trying to think of as many uncommon ways you could use a hairdryer as possible. One idea might be to use it as a leaf blower. This exercise is a test of your ability for divergent thinking – the ability to find multiple solutions to a problem. Divergent thinking is strongly associated with creativity. In other words, the more ways you thought of using that hairdryer, the more creative potential you probably have.

Looking at people’s divergent thinking abilities has helped scientists understand the relationship between creativity and intelligence.  

In 2013, Austrian psychologists investigating creativity and intelligence found that once participants’ IQ scores went above 86, their score was no longer predictive of their divergent thinking abilities. A person with a genius-level IQ of 150 was no more likely to think of more solutions to a problem than someone with a more average IQ of 100. In other words, beyond a relatively low threshold, your overall intelligence makes no difference to your potential for creativity.

Around 80% of the world’s population has an IQ above this threshold of 86. Astoundingly, this means that roughly three billion people are walking around with the same creative potential as the geniuses we are taught to idolize.

So how can more of us unlock this potential?

Research indicates that it all comes down to practice. But not just any type of practice – it must enable you to expand your skills and challenge yourself.

Studies by Professor K. Anders Ericsson of Florida State University have found that to become an expert in any field, one must practice in a way that emphasizes tangible goals and continual feedback. When studying professional violinists, Ericsson found that although all the violinists spent a similar number of hours practicing, the most accomplished among them were more purposeful: The most expert performers would ensure that a teacher regularly listened to and critiqued their playing, thus providing a feedback mechanism. They also asked their teachers to assign practice exercises they weren’t yet proficient at and worked on them until they became competent. In this way, they always had clear goals to work toward.

So if you want to unleash your creative potential, don’t just practice the same skills over and over again in isolation. Make it your mission to continually develop skills and seek regular feedback.

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