On doing more work, Failure, and Creativity // Tom Kelley & David Kelley

On doing more work, Failure, and Creativity // Tom Kelley & David Kelley

“A widely held myth suggests that creative geniuses rarely fail. Yet according to Professor Dean Keith Simonton of the University of California, Davis, the opposite is actually true: creative geniuses, from artists like Mozart to scientists like Darwin, are quite prolific when it comes to failure — they just don’t let that stop them. His research has found that creative people simply do more experiments. Their ultimate “strokes of genius” don’t come about because they succeed more often than other people — they just do more, period. They take more shots at the goal. That is the surprising, compelling mathematics of innovation: if you want more success, you have to be prepared to shrug off more failure.

Take Thomas Edison, for example.

Edison, one of the most famous and prolific inventors in history, had failure baked into his creative process. He understood that an experiment ending in failure is not a failed experiment — as long as constructive learning is gained. He invented the incandescent lightbulb, but only after the lessons of a thousand unsuccessful attempts. Edison maintained that the “real measure of success is the number of experiments that can be crowded into twenty-four hours.””

Tom Kelley & David Kelley (“Creative Confidence”)

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