To account for its success, many point to America’s entrepreneurial culture, its tolerance for failure and its unique ecosystem of venture funding. Those factors do play important roles, but the most important thing driving America’s success has been its unparalleled scientific leadership.
Creativity cannot flourish if we keep seeing only the things we expect to see. If we want to be creative, we must keep ourselves surprised; we must embrace uncertainty and actively look for the unexpected. But how we can achieve that? Isn’t that an inherent contradiction: how can we expect the unexpected?
Creativity has commonly been thought of either as a set of domain- general skills that can be applied broadly like a special kind of intelligence or as a general personality trait that colors a person’s approach to any kind of task or problem, but these ways of thinking about creativity are misleading. A better metaphor for creativity than either intelligence or a personality trait is expertise.
If you avoid problems, you’re not working in a creative mindset. If you seek solutions, you’re not working in a creative mindset. This problem-solution paradox is another contradiction I’ve discovered in the science of creativity. Each opportunity breeds its own set of challenges.