What Kills Creativity

Nintendo designer Gunpei Yokoi was riding the train to work, when he saw a businessman trying to amuse himself with a small LCD pocket calculator. He connected the nintendo to the calculator and came up with the gameboy.

Everything new and creative is really just and addition or subtraction of something that already exist. But you have to be aware to see it.

The pinhole camera was started when a philosopher named Mozi noticed an upside-down image on the inside of a barn wall where the sunlight was shining through a hole from a board across the barn. Nature created that image and being able to associate that idea to a much smaller wooden box created the start of the camera. Many generations of adding features for quality and reducing features for size created the creative device we now use.

We are not capable of inventing anything without some kind of reference point – so creativity is about having the awareness to connect things.

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. Steve Jobs

Now if you were being chased by a lion would you be thinking about 10 different solutions to escape? No, you would be thinking of one and running for your life.

Stress and more specifically the hormone cortisol creates tunnel vision in your mind and lowers creativity (1). I’ve explained about how to manage stress here, here, here and here.

Unlike goal setting creativity requires you to expand your zoom far and wide. The ability to connect is limited to how wide your scope is expanded. Someone with a wide variety of interests and the ability to be “in the moment” is sure to be creative. The wider the scope the more opportunities we can see, the more narrow our scope the less opportunities we can see.

Rest expands the creative scope.

It’s no coincidence that your best ideas come to you when you’re in the shower or on vacation. If you want to improve your creativity, the best thing you can do is learn to relax and be mindful.

In the hectic life we live in, it’s hard to stop and and take a deep breath, to smell the flowers and give the mind a break. But this is exactly what is needed if you want to live a creative life.


Also published on Medium.

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