According to Thomas Edison, “Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.” Edison,himself a genius with an IQ of 145 and over 1,093 patents to his name tried ‘thousands of times ‘ to invent the lightbulb. When asked why he continued to work, Edison responded: I’ve tried everything. I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work!”
So how might you apply tenacity and variety to your thinking to get you close to genius level?Here are 9 approaches to creative thinking to improve how you think and solve problems. (More posts in the future on 99 percent perspiration and genius).
Nine approaches to creative problem solving
1.Rethink! Look at problems in many ways.Find new perspectives that no one else has taken (or no one else has publicized!)Leonardo da Vinci believed that, to gain knowledge about the form of a problem, you begin by learning how to restructure it in many ways. He felt that the first way he looked at a problem was too biased. Often, the problem itself is reconstructed and becomes a new one.
2.Visualize! Utilize diagrams and imagery to analyze your dilemma.When Einstein thought through a problem, he always found it necessary to formulate his subject in as many ways as possible, including using diagrams. He visualized solutions, and believed that words and numbers as such did not play a significant role in his thinking process.
3.Produce! Genius is productive.A distinguishing characteristic of genius is productivity.Thomas Edison held 1,093 patents. He guaranteed productivity by giving himself and his assistants idea quotas.
4. Make novel combinations:Combine, and recombine, ideas, images, and thoughts into different combinations no matter how incongruent or unusual.
5. Form relationships:Make connections between dissimilar subjects.Da Vinci forced a relationship between the sound of a bell and a stone hitting water. This enabled him to make the connection that sound travels in waves.
6. Think in opposites:Physicist Niels Bohr believed that if you held opposites together, then you suspend your thought, and your mind moves to a new level. His ability to imagine light as both a particle and a wave led to his conception of the principle of complementarity. Suspending thought (logic) may allow your mind to create a new form.
7.Think metaphorically:Aristotle considered metaphor a sign of genius, and believed that the person who had the capacity to perceive resemblances between two separate areas of existence and link them together was a person of special gifts.
8.Learning from your mistakes is one example of using failure:Whenever we attempt to do something and fail, we end up doing something else. That is the first principle of creative accident. Failure can be productive only if we do not focus on it as an unproductive result. Instead: analyze the process, its components, and how you can change them, to arrive at other results. Do not ask “Why have I failed?”, but rather “What have I done?”
9.Patience! Don’t confuse inspiration with ideas.Paul Cézanne (1839 – 1906) is recognized as one of the 19th century’s greatest painters, and is often called the father of modern art, an avant garde bridge between the Impressionists and the Cubists. During his life he only had a few exhibitions though his influence on later artists was great as an innovator with shape and form. His genius, however, was not clear until late in life. He was refused admission to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts at age 22 and his first solo exhibition was at age 56. His genius was the product of many years’ practice and experimental innovation.