Is There a Key to Creativity and Innovation?
I love studying entrepreneurs (with a focus on tech), and fascinated by the personalities that have built and continue to grow Silicon Valley. It’s my belief that history will look back at this time in which we are living and will speak about it as they do when Pierre Trudeau introduced the concept of multiculturalism, and Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.
During a conversation I recently had in passing about my interest in tech entrepreneurs, I was told of the tech boom here in Toronto and elsewhere in Canada, too! It’s inspiring to know that the creative energy is present all around us.
But my main curiosity regarding these innovators and entrepreneurs is, “What is it about these people that allows them to achieve what they have?”
In other words, is it a certain quality they possess? Is there a key?
Maybe it’s some form of superior intelligence? Or perhaps it’s privilege… access to higher education and connections?
To be clear, I’m not proposing that it’s any one thing. I am referring to a group of unique individuals with unique backgrounds and histories, after all. But are there traits that perhaps can be found in these individuals that may help us to have a better understanding of what might allow any one of us to be able to create and innovate in ways that seem unattainable?
So I will preface the following by saying that these thoughts are purely anecdotal on my part, collected from my experiences and informal research. And by no means has my research been exhaustive.
But through my years of experience from working in my previous marketing career to my work in psychotherapy now, I have formed the opinion that those who do what may be considered ‘outside the box’ have an ability to tolerate a more-than-average level of risk and uncertainty.
You may be asking, as I would be, “What exactly does ‘more-than-average level of risk’ mean?”. Without the ability to quantify it, I would say that it would be subjective.
To one person, tolerating a more-than-average level of risk may mean trying out a new restaurant or exploring a new neighbourhood. To another, it may mean jumping in head first into the ocean just having dumped in some chum and knowing that there are sharks beginning to circle. And yet to another, it may be being completely honest with a loved one or ourselves.
Or as I had mentioned above, it must have been a more-than-average level of risk for Trudeau to introduce a concept that is not only inclusive of a country’s citizens, but also helped to define an ideal for what Canada stands, and for Neil Armstrong and everyone involved in the space program to have the audacity to believe that it was possible to literally shoot for the moon.
The other thing I believe is that the more we engage in pushing our tolerance, the more we are able to tolerate and risk. It may be in small ways and it could be in bigger ways like the examples above. It’s the actual experience of learning, what may work and what may not, that can only be understood by actually doing it.
It’s also to understand that there are reasons why each of us have our unique gauge for risks. It’s not that any of us are particularly flawed for not having a tolerance for risk that a friend or family member may have. Our level of what’s comfortable in risk can come from our past experiences, as well as our tendencies in personality. It can be comforting and valuable to understand the details of the ‘why’, but it’s also possible to move forward and grow without the details.
After all, most of the time that things are changing, we’re not aware of the minute details. And even without us being completely aware, changes are occurring. As the saying goes, “The only constant is change.”
That being said, however, it can be a different kind of experience to be changing with awareness, too. To engage in change with awareness might very well be like taking the proverbial steering wheel. As a more literal example, it’s entirely possible that that’s part of what made the invention and vision of Tesla Motors possible for Elon Musk.
What do you consider to be your ‘more-than-average level of risk’? What do you think would be possible if you are to consciously build your personal tolerance for risk taking?
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