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M E E T I N G   N O T E S

Reflections on Creativity and Innovation: Lessons from the Past

by Andy Weinzapfel, Geologic Consultant

The remarkable, fascinating historical record of innovation is reviewed.  Wisdom from the medical establishment and mind-training consultants regarding the creative process is considered.  Together, these provide significant clues into the sometimes nebulous and misunderstood nature of creativity, extremely relevant to those desiring a “thinking lifestyle” that is personally rewarding, or scientists/ entrepreneurs in search of competitive opportunities on a difficult playing field.

This presentation captures examples of innovation from a large spectrum of society: high school dropouts to the highly educated; single mothers to engineers; painters, sculptors, secretaries, and physicists; three-year olds to geezers; ancient Alexandria to today.

There are several common traits, patterns of thinking, attitudes, and approaches exhibited by innovators leading to the conclusion creativity can be enhanced.  Creativity is a bit like cholesterol.  Some highly creative people are clearly born that way, just as some individuals with poor eating and exercise habits maintain optimum cholesterol levels, thanks to their lucky genes.  But as cholesterol level and type can be improved with the right behaviors, so too can creativity, with optimum “brain food”, work habits, and attitudes.

The role of two critical stages in the birth of ideas called “filling the sponge” and “first insight” are emphasized and explored in detail.  Reasons why some people fail to be creative, while others become idea generators, are considered.