When we think of creativity, most of our minds automatically assume images of great artists – the strange, neurotic, and bizarre men and women who have shaped and influenced many aspects of modern life as we know it. From Van Gogh and Da Vinci to Hendrix and Clapton, the use and exploration of original ideas and imagination that have led to recognized classics only further drives the age old question: what sparks creativity and how can we attain it?
For Salvador Dali – the artist widely known for his surrealist paintings – sleeping with a heavy steel key in hand did the trick. As Dali would drift into sleep, his grip would loosen and the key would proceed to fall onto a tin plate producing a sharp sound. Upon waking, Dali would write down the ideas and images that came to him in that brief moment of slumber. Essentially, Dali was taking advantage of the biological phenomena known as a Hypnagogia – the transitional state between consciousness and sleep. In this state people can experience visual and auditory hallucination, sleep paralysis, and even out of body experiences, the effects of which can be clearly seen in Dali’s work. That said, Dali was a complete lunatic that made Lady Gaga and Ozzy seem like poster children of a 50’s sitcom, but there is no doubt that his creative process was just as genius as it was weird.
While highly prevalent in the world of artists, creativity has its place firmly rooted in the world of business and innovation. Doctor Yoshiro Nakamatsu – better known as the inventor of the floppy disk, the kerosene pump, the CD, and the DVD– began inventing at an early age to help others. In order to ignite his creativity, Nakamatsu would dive deep to the bottom of a pool of water in successful attempts to deprive his brain of oxygen. According to Nakamatsu, he would visualize an invention 0.5 seconds before his death. Despite his cheery penchant for blowing water bubbles directly in the Reaper’s face, Nakamatsu, at 88 years of age, is still alive today and is credited with patenting over 3300 inventions.
Now, most of us simply just don’t have the time to wreck our sleep cycles or nearly drown ourselves to get the creative juices flowing. So what can we do? How can we find our creativity? As you may know, it isn’t something that just falls into our lap one day – it’s something that we have to put conscious effort into achieving. It starts from implementing small habits – waking up early, taking care of our body, supplementing our mind – and leads to the development of our mindset – our perception of opportunities, the expansion of perspective, and fearlessness in the face of change. There are a billion ways to try and inspire creativity, but its true birth comes from us. All of our intrinsic passions, our experiences, our failures, our success are the driving factors of creativity. All we really have to do is connect the dots to shape the image of what we want to see.