In his excellent book: “Scientific Genius, Dean Keith Simonton of the USC-Davis, suggests that genuises are forming more novel combinations than the merely talented. His theory has etymology behind it: Cogito- “I think”- orginally connoted “shake together”. Intelligo, the root of intelligence, means to “select among”. This is a clear early indication about the utility of permitting ideas and thoughts to randomly combine with each other and selecting from the many the few to r…
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In his excellent book: “Scientific Genius, Dean Keith Simonton of the USC-Davis, suggests that genuises are forming more novel combinations than the merely talented. His theory has etymology behind it: Cogito- “I think”- orginally connoted “shake together”. Intelligo, the root of intelligence, means to “select among”. This is a clear early indication about the utility of permitting ideas and thoughts to randomly combine with each other and selecting from the many the few to retain.
Like the highly intelligent child with a case of Legos, the genius is constantly combining and re-combining ideas, images, thoughts into different combinations on both the conscious and unconscious levels.
When asked how he was able to come to E=MC2, Einstein called it “combinatory play”. He hadn’t, after all, invented energy, mass or speed but he was able to look at the same world as everybody else and come up with something different. In fact, he considerd this combinatory play to be essential to his thinking.
In my book: “The Secret Creator Within”- 23 Ways To Awaken Your Creative Genius, I actually start my treatise with this important idea by presenting my first ‘Creative Pop’ after a much quoted line from Linus Pauling, the great chemist:
“The best way to get a good idea
is to get lots of ideas.”
To illustrate this concept let’s take Tony Bennet. It has been said of him: “Tony Bennet never sings the same song—once.”
When he was asked if he ever got tired of singing “I Left My Heart In San Francisco” his answer was revealing.
“Do you ever get tired of making love?”
When I heard him say this I wondered how could a man who has performed the same song thousands of times, surely on every occassion he’s had to do a concert in a very long career, still find it so new , so fresh, so exciting that he could compare it to making love?
It’s because he has found the magic in our ‘Creative Pop’— each time he goes on stage he’s looking for ALL the ways this song can be expressed. And after these many years, the countless perfomances of this, his biggest hit, he’s still searching for the next best answer.
It’s amazing when you think about it—he hasn’t exhausted the possibilities—after some fifty years.
The lyrics never changed, “the city by the bay” never went anywhere new, the “cable cars still flew half-way to the stars” each time. The basic melody never changed. But this mastersinger could vary the nuance, the phrasing, the tempo, or the scale each time into a myriad of exciting new combinations.
It’s true Tony Bennet never sings the same song—once!
Did TV producer Lorne Michaels stay with the same cast of Saturday Night Live? No, he constantly looked for new talent, skits, and ways to present humor. He too, always on the quest for the next answer.
Did writer/producer Norman Lear stop creating TV sitcoms when All In The Family was a blow out success? No, he went ‘Uptown’ and everywhere else in his creative search because he kept generating the next idea.
Did Bill Gates stop growing his tiny company in 1975 or stop with his first successful idea, a prototype software package, and halt with the name Microsoft? No.
Mr. Gates went on to the next ideas, and still hasn’t finished finding all of them. He eventually became the richest man in the world.
One way of looking at a problem just doens’t cut it and certainly doesn’t generate genius.
So, how is this done? How can we start to ‘awaken’ creative genius? To explore this I lean heavily on a theory I’ve developed based on a comment by Charles DuBois. He said:
“The important thing is this:
to be able
at any moment to scarifice
that which we are for
that which we could become.”
If we ponder these words carefully, and then ask ourselves: what stops us from creating more ideas and solutions, what makes us so satisfied with the one answer we usually can find? We discover a key in the above quotation from Dubois.
Very often its because we cherish our current state, that immidiate solution, so much that we become too afraid or too timid in changing or discarding it. We’ve been taught, through education and experience, to be afraid of change.
Make no mistake about it, generating the next answer requires a change in your thinking and motivation. It takes courage, too. You must sacrifice what you’ve already found as soon as you find it. Who would want to do that? No one does. No one except ‘original thinkers’ and creative geniuses.
To them this is second nature. They are so content in combining ideas and shuffling together one position against another that they hardly find much sacrifice in losing a single solution shortly after its discovery. There is a sort of inner converstation that is constantly pulsing— which they heed— because it leads to real breakthrough, what I call ‘original’ thinking.