Creativity Thrives When You Resist The Urge To Give Up

Creativity Thrives When You Resist The Urge To Give Up

Giving up on something isn’t always a bad thing, but there’s something to be said for pushing yourself even when you’re ready to throw in the towel. For one, it can make you more creative.

In a series of experiments, researchers Brian J. Lucas and Loran Nordgren studied how persistence affects creativity. They asked subjects to come up with ideas under certain circumstances: for example, they had professional comedians come up with punch lines.

Then, they asked another group of people to rate the creativity of subjects’ ideas. The biggest finding was that powering through a challenge fuels creativity, but also interesting is the fact that we often misjudge how creative our ideas are when we’re struggling with something. In one study, the researchers reported:

On average, the students predicted they would be able to generate around 10 new ideas if they persisted. But we found that they were actually able to generate around 15 new ideas…Why do we underestimate the benefits of persistence? It’s because creative challenges feel difficult. People often have the experience of feeling “stuck,” being unsure of how to find a solution, or hitting a wall with one idea and having to start over again.

Yes, sometimes giving up is the best solution to a problem. There’s a lot to consider about when you’re deciding whether or not to quit something, but we often underestimate the power of persistence when it comes to generating new ideas.

To combat this, they suggest two things: ignoring your first instinct to stop and remembering that creative problems are supposed to feel difficult. You can read more about their studies and these two solutions at the link below.

Giving Up Is the Enemy of Creativity [HBR]


  • Sometimes I toss a coin.
    This forces me to revaluate things and determine my priorities if I was faced with cancelling something on the outcome of a coin toss.
    I don’t always follow it but it can force a reset of my priorities if they become unrealistic.

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!