"Even if you're not a genius, you can use the same strategies as
Aristotle and Einstein to harness the power of your creative mind and better manage your
The following eight strategies encourage you to think productively, rather
than reproductively, in order to arrive at solutions to problems. "These
strategies are common to the thinking styles of creative geniuses in science, art, and
industry throughout history."
1. Look at problems in many different ways, and find new
perspectives that no one else has taken (or no one else has publicized!)
Leonardo da Vinci believed that, to gain knowledge about the form of a
problem, you begin by learning how to restructure it in many different ways. He felt
that the first way he looked at a problem was too biased. Often, the problem itself
is reconstructed and becomes a new one.
When Einstein thought through a problem, he always found it necessary to
formulate his subject in as many different ways as possible, including using diagrams.
He visualized solutions, and believed that words and numbers as such did not play a
significant roll in his thinking process.
3. Produce! A distinguishing characteristic of genius
Thomas Edison held 1,093 patents. He guaranteed productivity by
giving himself and his assistants idea quotas. In a study of 2,036 scientists
throughout history, Dean Keith Simonton of the University of California at Davis found
that the most respected scientists produced not only great works, but also many
"bad" ones. They weren't afraid to fail, or to produce mediocre in
order to arrive at excellence.
4. Make novel combinations. Combine, and recombine,
ideas, images, and thoughts into different combinations no matter how incongruent or
The laws of heredity on which the modern science of genetics is based came
from the Austrian monk Grego Mendel, who combined mathematics and biology to create a new
5. Form relationships; make connections between dissimilar
Da Vinci forced a relationship between the sound of a bell and a stone
hitting water. This enabled him to make the connection that sound travels in waves.
Samuel Morse invented relay stations for telegraphic signals when observing
relay stations for horses.
6. Think in opposites.
Physicist Niels Bohr believed, that if you held opposites together, then
you suspend your thought, and your mind moves to a new level. His ability to imagine
light as both a particle and a wave led to his conception of the principle of
complementarity. Suspending thought (logic) may allow your mind to create a new
7. Think metaphorically.
Aristotle considered metaphor a sign of genius, and believed that the
individual who had the capacity to perceive resemblances between two separate areas of
existence and link them together was a person of special gifts.
8. Prepare yourself for chance.
Whenever we attempt to do something and fail, we end up doing something
else. That is the first principle of creative accident. Failure can be
productive only if we do not focus on it as an unproductive result. Instead:
analyze the process, its components, and how you can change them, to arrive at other
results. Do not ask the question "Why have I failed?", but rather
"What have I done?"