“Smart people are a dime a dozen and often don’t amount to much”, says Walter Isaacson, the world-renowned author who has written about the lives of Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, Ada Lovelace, Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein and most recently Jeff Bezos.
He goes on to say that what really counts and what makes someone special and a true innovator, is creativity and imagination. The consistent attributes of the most creative and imaginative are:
1. They are passionately curious.
2. They have a love and connection to arts and science.
3. They are masters at distorting reality, inspiring people to do things that seemed impossible.
4. They “think different”.
5. They’ve retained a childlike sense of wonder.
Throughout my entrepreneurial career, one of the key lessons I’ve learned is that attention and focus are a necessity in order to drive ideation. Attention and focus are the raw materials of human creativity. The more you can pay attention and focus (especially during uncertain and challenging times), the more creative and imaginative you will be.
You see, smart people are important and you should definitely surround yourself with intelligent people, however, investing solely in intelligence is a short-term investment. The probability of a person who is just “intelligent” becoming disenfranchised, losing passion or purpose, or wanting to take off and do their own thing is high. On the other hand, investing in people who are both intelligent and creative, in my opinion, is a long-term investment. Why? Well, people who are creative and intelligent are rarely satisfied with their work. The minute they create something, they are unsatisfied and want to create something new, better and life-changing. This type of mindset is what you need when you want to build a life and organization with a deep cause. An organization with a deep cause plays the infinite game – a game that requires you to have a beginner’s mindset and play forever. For organizations like this, there is no finite goal or reward other than advancing the cause.
Creativity and innovation begin the moment we don’t know what we’re doing, which makes experimenting and exploring massive drivers in creating world class businesses, products and services. As access to technology and knowledge accelerates, the true differentiator between businesses (and people) will be creative thinking, and the imagination and deployment of products, services, communities and causes that people don’t think are possible. The need for human creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration will be crucial moving forward.
Like Jeff Bezos said: “If you want to innovate and do new things, you need to have a willingness to be misunderstood.”