Who are the great geniuses that shaped our world?
Albert Einstein, Pythagoras, Abraham Lincoln, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Socrates, Confucius, Sir Isaac Newton, Steve Jobs?
Have you ever wondered what factors work together to create the perfect setting for timeless success and recognition? Intelligence, opportunity, resource availability, right place, right time… there are a number of things that had to line up in order for each one of these historic geniuses to take center stage. Researchers have studied geniuses for decades in order to find out why some are able to achieve immortal greatness, and others cannot even complete a college education. These studies can help us learn how we can increase our intelligence, expand our innovation, and make a lasting impression on society!
“Knowledge of a boy’s IQ is of little help if you are faced with a formful of clever boys.” (Outliers, Malcom Gladwell)
Surprisingly, it’s not all about the IQ! The groundbreaking book Outliers explains in detail that anyone with an IQ of 120 or greater is smart enough to win a Nobel Peace Prize. That’s about 16% of the general population. So it is not IQ alone that determines success or greatness. In fact, Albert Einstein only had an IQ of 150, whereas you may not have ever heard of the smartest man in the world. The smartest man in recorded history is Abdesselam Jelloul, with an Advanced IQ score of 198. Gladwell argues that although one must have a high intelligence, there is another factor that comes into play…
Creative Intelligence – The “It” Factor
Gladwell explains a very effect exercise in Outliers that clearly identifies what sets a high-achieving student apart from a student who has a high “IQ” without the It factor.
In this real-life example, only people with an IQ over 120 were invited to participate. They were given a single noun and asked to write as many uses as possible for each noun. For “brick”, one student wrote:
“(Brick). To use in smash-and-grab raids. To help hold a house together. To use in a game of Russian roulette if you want to keep fit at the same time (bricks at ten paces, turn and throw—no evasive action allowed). To hold the eiderdown on a bed tie a brick at each corner. As a breaker of empty Coca-Cola bottles.”
Then a student with a much higher IQ wrote:
“(Brick). Building things, throwing.”
The “It” factor Gladwell found is Creativity. The student who listed two answers can outscore the more creative student on an IQ test any day of the week, but that will not help him succeed in life. It is Creativity that helps us intuitively navigate through this life and create something fresh and new that will change the generations that come after us. It is the “brick Russian roulette” ideas that change the world (for the better or worse in this case). Creative people do not have to have the highest intelligence. They are able to connect ideas together in unconventional ways because they have a wide range of experiences, they reflect on their experiences, and they are constantly brainstorming.
How to Boost Creativity
The good news is, psychologists agree that Creativity is easier to improve than your IQ score! Here are some of the ways you can improve your Creativity and work toward achieving greatness:
Most Creative Experts have traveled the world extensively. Experiencing other cultures and realizing how very singular your worldview is can be a powerful way to boost the way you connect to your world. Even if you do not have the funds to travel, you can read about other countries and cultures. The point is to get out of your own world and open your eyes to seeing just how big the world is. The more you realize you don’t know, the more you will continue to learn and expand your creativity! It’s all about making connections and problem solving. When you have a myriad of experiences to draw from, you are capable of making more connections and discovering new ways of doing things. So start saving up for your next trip abroad! Or dig into your local library or bookstore to learn about all the different cultures that make our world so diverse.
2. Reflect on Your Experiences
Creative geniuses do not simply experience new things; they contemplate their adventures and apply them to real life. This can be the most fun step in improving your creativity! Keep a journal every day, and reflect on what new observations or lessons you have learned that day. Become an expert storyteller, and share your experiences with other people – reliving it as your story comes to life before your audience. Take at least twenty minutes every day to unplug from the distractions of the world and think about what you have uncovered. Make sure to apply your reflections to the future. How will this change your outlook? What can be learned from your time traveling? Consider unlikely solutions and connections to your brainstorming and creativity skills.
3. Surround Yourself with Your Opposites
Abraham Lincoln famously created a “team of rivals” for his Executive Cabinet. The purpose was to get rid of the “yes men” who would never challenge him, and fill his closest inner circle with people who represented all the different points of view. This skill can help with problem solving and boosting creativity! By regularly engaging with people who have opposite viewpoints and life experiences, you will discover that you have just tapped the surface of knowledge and have so much to learn! Even if you do not agree with someone’s perspective, it takes a great deal of intelligence and maturity to sit still, quiet your brain, and listen with an open mind. There is so much to be gained by dialoguing and listening to people with opposite worldviews and opinions!
4. Surround Yourself with Creative People
Fill your life with Creative Experts, and let them rub off on you. Play close attention to how they respond to different circumstances. Watch them interact with other people – people both similar and different from them. Write down your observations in your journal, and think about what you can learn from these people in your inner circle. Allow yourself to open up to other Creative Experts so you can bounce ideas off of one another and expand your brainstorming power!
Engage your creativity daily, and start improving your overall intelligence and innovation!