You’ve heard of people having Eureka moments, of ideas coming to them unbidden. It might seem like creativity strikes by accident, the truth is even the unprompted creative breakthroughs were earned.
Photo by Andrés Nieto Porras.
Author Scott Berkun says the stories about creativity seeming easy and fun are misleading. Successful, creative people actually pay more attention to their mistakes and accidents:
A recent NYTimes opinion titled Cultivating The Art of Serendipity, by Pagan Kennedy, offered:
“A surprising number of the conveniences of modern life were invented when someone stumbled upon a discovery or capitalised on an accident: the microwave oven, safety glass, smoke detectors, artificial sweeteners, X-ray imaging.”
What’s overlooked is that these accidents were earned. Each of these professionals committed themselves to years of work chasing hard problems, and then, when an accident happened, they chose not to ignore it, as most of us would. They chose to study the accident. Who among us studies our accidents? We mostly run and hide from them.Being curious about our own mistakes is a far more interesting attitude for life than someone who merely chases serendipity. Capitalising on ‘accidents’ is an excellent notion that Kennedy mentions, however briefly, and I wish it were the focus of the article.
What have been your surprise wins? What accidents have you overlooked that could have led to a bigger breakthrough?
In other words, get back to work. That’s how you get the creative breakthroughs. Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.
Creativity Is Not an Accident [Scott Berkun]