Perhaps the number one component to the longevity and success of any business is the ability to stay relevant. But to maintain relevancy requires a fantastic amount of creativity.
At no time has creativity been more evident than during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses and individuals have creatively modified everyday work and living routines to comply with social distancing and business operation regulations. But, as it is with most significant life-changing events, some people are able to adapt easier than others, and some are more creative in their approach.
So, the question is, where does creativity come from, and can it be turned on at will?
NPR’s TED Radio Hour explored the topic of Jumpstarting Creativity with writer and economist, Tim Harford. They start with the story of legendary Jazz Pianist Keith Jarrett and his famous 1975 concert at the Opera House in Cologne (Köln) Germany.
Jarrett was known to be a perfectionist to the point that he has been known to hand out cough drops to the audience, so they do not disturb the performance. But he is also a free-thinking musician who would often perform tiny improvised concepts.
This fascinating story revolves around a mishap at the concert venue. The grand piano that was supposed to be tuned and ready was instead a rehearsal model described as half a piano with sticking keys, pedals that didn’t work, and felt that was worn away in the upper register, making it sound tinny.
At first, despite the sell-out crowd of 1,400, Jarrett refused to play but was convinced by a teary-eyed 17-year-old girl to perform.
In this instance, Jarrett had been handed a mess. However, he embraced the mess, combining all of his musical knowledge and skills with the creativity needed to produce what was described as breathtaking. The Köln Concert has become the best-selling jazz piano album of all time.
While there has been, and continues to be, many studies to explain the process of creativity, it is not really understood. However, most scientists agree that creativity is different from talent and different from technical skills.
Adversity, such as a broken-down piano, is often the stimulus for creativity, but other things also seem to stimulate creativity.
- Slow Down – stepping away from a project to go for a walk has been shown to stimulate fresh ideas.
- Be prolific – the key to creativity is not to lock onto the first idea that pops into your head, but rather, keep thinking of ideas until you run out and then narrow them down to one or two that are worth pursuing.
- Multi-task – switching from one project to another may stimulate ideas for the first project, and vice versa, they often cross-fertilize each other.
According to one scientist, “Creativity is really just your intelligence having fun.”
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