It is my belief that at the centre of our misunderstanding of success and creativity lays our ego. In the deep dark depths of our psyche we allow mutual myth perpetuation and self-importance to cloud the truth about “talent”. That is, that all those artists, designers and thinkers would have to admit that they did not simply sit and spark perfection from nowhere but their brilliant brains. But instead undertook arduous processes, leading them on twists and turns of trial and error and accidental discovery. They in fact refined and scrapped many ideas or images in their search that were not quite there before they worked their way to that revelation of understanding.
So the truth is not as mystical or magical. But for those young minds like mine developing and wondering what there is left to do or say in this world, this truth is far more interesting. I mean once the word “genius” is suspended from use and replaced with the word “adept” or “proficient”; it is possible for us to see how we may all grow into that role we wish to fill.
We may now consider what it takes to make a success of ourselves in a realistic and achievable manner.
Firstly, we need to adjust our expectations in order understand that to become skilled at any task nothing is instant. Concepts of “talent” simply give us the excuse to give up when we do not see instant results or answers. Becoming masterful at anything takes practice and persistence, encouragement and above all, time. Secondly our methods are flawed, and it only takes our misconceptions of talent to explain why. It is wrong to believe that those gifts are inherent in us, that those ideas are plucked from nowhere, or that the apple just falls on our heads.
There may be years in between the first thoughts about a problem that needs to be solved, the zygote beginnings of a story or concept, and the final piece that penetrates the mainstream and is shouted as revolutionary theory, or exceptional work. It is important to understand this when considering success, as it means that we have to give up on the idea that we will simply be great at something if it is what we are meant to be in this life. We have to be prepared that the time and effort needed to conquer has daunted many before us into retreat and submission. Accepting that failure is a central part of the learning process allows us to see where we went wrong and adjust our trajectory to avoid similar mistakes and misdirection. Creative reasoning in this way also gives the opportunity to produce images and concepts that were never before considered, thus feeding into this incredible cycle of production.
Another myth is to do with the limitations of IQ and brain capacity. For example, the influence of IQ on success is said to be minimal at best, and brain capacity is arguable simply about distribution of cognition. It stands to reason that holding too much information at one time can distract and confuse from the task in hand. Externalising ideas and thoughts, in sketches or diagrams, fragments of thoughts and lyrics, allows the memory to be relieved. If we can get the ideas out and chronicled, it becomes possible to read over them, correct them, identify weakness. It is now possible to see clearly how the images you have created deviate from the image you want/need. Lastly, this externalising of thoughts and ideas allows us be constrained and focused by the visual limitations. For example, it is possible to read a sentence written and see that it does not convey the message you have in your mind adequately. It is possible to see the wrong sentence and be inspired as to what the right one is.
If the mind is relieved of holding the ideas in, it can be free to think of new possibilities and new images. If we can free our minds from the concept of fixed talent and intelligence then anything is possible. If our egos can allow us to admit that we rarely get anything right first time then maybe it will follow that we can embrace mistakes and allow reflexivity to guide us to the success and achievement we crave.
All we need now is to listen to our own advice and rational minds, and find that motivation…… right?
 Vallée-Tourangeau & Krüsi Penney (2005) The impact of external representation in a rule discovery task.
 Nersessian (1999) Model-based reasoning in conceptual change.
 Ericsson, Krampe & Tesch-Römer (1993) The role of deliberate practice in the acquisition of expert performance.
About the Author: Leigh Brereton is a psychology/social sciences writer for http://www.sci-faux.com