When we look at highly creative people and their successful lives, we tend to assume that they were born that way. That there was something special about them or their upbringing which made them who they are. But if you think about it, people who’ve changed the world were/are just like you and me. Many had humble beginnings and would have led quite ordinary lives if not for their determination to keep their creative fire burning. Let’s look at creative thinkers in different fields who’ve revolutionised the world with their unique approach to life.
Politics: As children, we’re all taught to be obedient and that obedience is a trait that would win us appreciation. But Gandhi was a man who made disobedience a virtue and made an invaluable contribution! Gandhi’s civil disobedience movement with its nonviolent approach was a clever political move that flummoxed the British. Gandhian politics have influenced several political movements around the world, notably the fight against Apartheid in South Africa.
Entertainment: Walt Disney, who made Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first full-length cel-animated film, went on to build an empire of mega theme parks, television, cable, vacation resorts, water parks, eight movie studios, and 39 hotels. Do you know how he started out? Disney was an 18-year-old ambulance driver in France, shortly after the Armistice. He entered into business with a conman and together, they transformed brand new German military headgear into ‘sniper’s helmets’ by adding fake bullet holes, mud, blood and hair, to be sold as souvenirs!
Science: Albert Einstein is also known as the Father of Modern Physics. A famous anecdote about him goes like this: In the year 1935, Einstein came to Princeton University and was asked what he would require for his study. He replied, “A desk, some pads and a pencil, and a large wastebasket to to hold all of my mistakes.”
Literature: While she worked on Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J K Rowling was living on welfare. She was a single parent, awaiting the finalisation of her divorce. Rowling was in the process of obtaining a licence in order to teach English and was virtually destitute by the time she had completed the book. She was so broke that she had to type out the manuscript twice before sending it out — she could not afford photocopying charges!
Now she’s richer than the Queen of England!
Business: Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who’ve made our lives easier with the super-efficient search engine Google, came up with the idea when they were students at Stanford. As a couple of math nerds, Page and Brin decided that they’d name the company after a really big number — the Googol — which is the digit one followed by a 100 zeroes! But their first investor misspelled the name ‘Google’ in the cheque he wrote for them. The two were so desperate for cash then that they decided to simply change the name of the company and encash the cheque!
From these anecdotes, it’s obvious what sets apart creative thinkers. It’s not inborn talent but the willingness to make mistakes and persistence to keep trying.