Stuck for ideas? Keep trying…

Giving up is the enemy of creativity, so says this research in the Harvard Business Review. Well, so far, so obvious. But the science backs it up – in study after study, people underestimated their own ability to keep coming up with ideas if they just kept trying. What’s more, when the guinea-pigs did stick at a problem for longer, the ideas they eventually came up with were rated by others as their best.

“Not only did participants underestimate their ability to generate ideas while persisting, they underestimated their ability to generate their most creative ideas.”

The study backs up what we already know about divergent thinking: the more you look for quantity of ideas, the more you are likely to get novelty. The authors- Brian J.Lucas and Loran Nordgren – conclude that we should ignore our first instinct to stop when ideas run dry, because our best idea might be just a few moment’s persistence away. They also suggest a bit of subtle reframing: remind yourself that creativity is meant to feel hard. That way, you won’t feel such a failure while you’re sat scratching your head.

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