Have you ever had a Eureka moment? According to myth, the Greek scholar Archimedes was lowering himself into a bath when he noticed the water level rising. He suddenly realised the volume of water displaced must be equal volume to the submerged part of his body, and was so excited he ran into the street shouting: “Eureka! Eureka!” That roughly translates to: “I have found it!”
Given this happened around 250BC it’s not known how the neighbours reacted, but Eureka has become synonymous with “a-ha!” moments of creative inspiration ever since.
“Creativity is at the core of innovation. We rely on innovation for advancing humanity, as well as for pleasure and entertainment. Creativity underlies so much of what we value as humans,” says Jonathan Schooler, a professor of psychology and brain sciences at the University of California.
So how do we define creativity? The Cambridge Dictionary says it’s being able to produce or use original or unusual ideas. There are also broader definitions like transcending traditional thinking and acting, and developing new and unique concepts. The most common words associated with creativity always seem to be ability, original and idea.
The concept of creativity has only been part of the modern lexicon since the middle of the 20th century. In the medieval world, a creative flash was thought to be a gift from a deity. Now, it’s seen as one of the most valuable currencies of the modern world. It drives business and brand cut-through. It creates elusive and sought-after points of difference in products and services. It inspires entertainment and relaxation.
In a global study of 1,500 CEOs from 60 countries, IBM found leaders believe creativity is the number one requirement for success. “More than rigour, management discipline, integrity or even vision — successfully navigating an increasingly complex world will require creativity.”
There’s a very good reason our brand mark is a spark. We drew inspiration from our original name, Being Brands, and discovered it in the negative space between two capital Bs (one reversed). Seeing the spark for the first time was in itself a moment of creative inspiration. Our identity is literally built around a creative spark.
What a rush
There’s a rush of excitement that comes with a light-bulb moment. It leads to a burst of activity in the orbitofrontal cortex — the area of the brain that lights up when we experience our most basic pleasures. In simple terms, we get a thrill at creating something from nothing.
“You can have a light-bulb moment anywhere,” says The Being Group’s Creative Director, Bas Storch. “It can happen when you’re at the supermarket, or walking your dog, and something will trigger an insight that becomes the core of a campaign.”
He shares: “I was trying to come up with an idea for a charity client. I found myself people-watching at Sydney’s Circular Quay when the idea hit. I was watching a busker, and had the realisation that it was better to be a busker and offer people something for their money, than ask without giving. That thought became a truth for that brand. I wasn’t even thinking about the idea at the time, yet the inspiration wouldn’t have come if I hadn’t been there.”
“Creativity is of incredible real-world value,” says Dr John Kounios, a psychologist studying creativity and insight at Drexel University in Philadelphia. “We seem wired to take pleasure in creative thoughts. There are neural rewards for thinking in a creative fashion, and that may be adaptive for our species. The ultimate goal is to figure out how to enhance it in a systematic way.”
How you can create more creativity
Creativity is a skill like any other. The more you practice, the better you’ll get.
Thanks to advances in neuroimaging, scientists have uncovered more and more about the creative process and how we can train ourselves to be more creative. Here are a few simple suggestions you can draw on daily.
- Be open to new experiences.
- Participate in creative hobbies for fun.
- If you’re feeling stuck, do something else. Go for a walk or focus on a different task.
- Let your mind wander. Try “day-dreaming with purpose”.
- Dedicate time in your day to be creative.
- Set yourself up in an environment conducive to creative thinking.
- Critique your ideas. Think about the best way to bring a concept to life.
- If possible, work or study in a place where creativity is valued.
- Surround yourself with creative people. Two heads are often better than one.
Creativity is in all of us. It’s the core of who we are as individuals, and comes from our true, authentic selves. Anyone can be creative — so go make something great.