Creativity: How to Look Beyond the Current Realities?

I watch many lectures including TEDTalks and university lecture series where people explain their extraordinary feats. Most lectures have common factors, and one of the most important I noticed is the ability to look at things with a lens that does not let the current realities hold them back from accomplishing their vision (Whether it be a hi-tech product or bringing supplies to people in need or coming up with a way to carry out your business goals with no budget).

A simple definition is creativity or “thinking out of the box”. Often I can’t help but stay glued to the realities of now, and cannot get past the voice in the back of my head saying, “Well, that would be great, but it’s not possible because…” ,“If only this…”, “Too bad that’s not realistic now…” The phrases above few examples of limiting that can go through your brain.

Every person works a different way, but I am very curious about common overlapping characteristics with how people innovate out of the box solution and don’t let the current realities prevent creativity. I know every problem does not need a new way to thing about things, but I always get stuck in defining solutions with the current situation(sometimes a good skill) and not looking beyond.

Before I use this story as an example, I just want to mention I might not remember it exactly as I heard it on a Yale University podcast. For me it shows the practical side of not putting constraints on yourself.

A Yale student went in an airport bus, and when the sun kept bothering his eyes he thought to himself it would be great to have the tint automatically get darker according to the suns intensity.
At this point, he could have said if only I was an “engineer or had a tech background” it be cool to figure this out. He ended up going beyond that, and then found out Yale held a patent on it. For reasons I forgot , Yale would not license him the technology, but said University of Washington had a similar technology. At that point he could have thought well, it’s at Yale and they did not commercialize, ‘”There must be a reason “. He continued his quest, and ended up going to UW and got them to license this technology to him, and I believe created a mildly successful startup. Regardless of the fate of the company, he looked beyond the barriers that were clear in the realities of the situation and did not let this stop him..

Lately I asked a few people on this topic and one person voiced their thoughts on Arnold Schwarzenegger as an example. Regardless of your opinion of Arnold, he is living the American Dream. Coming from a small village in Austria to winning Mr. Olympia and Mr. Universe, but that was not enough. After his bodybuilding career, he came to the USA and worked his way up to become an international movie star. Driven to move into political career, he then got elected the head of the most populous state in the United States. In Arnold’s case, it seems like his drive from each endeavor (bodybuilding, acting, business, and politics) helped lead to and built upon one another to make this all happen. Arnold may or may not have had this plan, but his drive and belief are the driving force behind his success(As you can say about most peoples success stories). Lesson I saw related to getting beyond the present lens is sometimes you just have to start one path with an absolute belief in yourself and the momentum of the path(or the where this path leads) alters your sense of “What is really possible?”

Recently I also saw a TED Talk by Elizabeth Gilbert on creativity. Her philosophy on creativity is everyday you need to do your job (whatever it may be), put in the work, and if some how inspiration to make extraordinary project, be happy your brain was lent this special thought and that’s great, but if not just continue to do your job, because that is the process of how creative gems are lent out. (A different way of thinking about creativity which puts less pressure on the person to get the great thought.)

After my very brief, informal internet search on the subject and asking the opinions of a few friends, these are a few things I am going to try to follow.

1. Focus on a specific problem

2. Don’t let little things stop you

3. The solutions to problem will likely lead to other out of the box thoughts

4. Don’t pressure yourself too much, “Rome was not built in a day”

5. Focus on the things that you can do, rather than the things you can’t do(most important)

I am assuming not many people, if any, made it through this over-thought post, but i I am curious everyone’s thoughts and feedback.

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