Creative Habits of Einstein, Picasso and Mozart

IQ alone cannot explain creative spark!

Intelligence is not enough to create extraordinary work. If you have ever channeled all your energy and time towards finishing an artwork, a composition or a passion project, you will understand what it means to lose yourself in a meaningful work.

The most creative people in history you admire approached problems differently. IQ alone cannot explain creative spark. There is more to creativity than just intelligence.

“Creativity isn’t a talent. It’s a way of operating,” says John Cleese.

It’s a central source of meaning in our lives. Creative geniuses are able to bring seemingly contradictory elements together in unusual and unexpected ways. While there’s no “typical” creative type, Einstein, Picasso and Mozart shared common traits.

They had the right amount of grit necessary to reach a high degree of mastery

Grit is a better predictor for success than talent. You can be insanely talented but if you can’t consistently hone your craft, you can’t be great. The ability to stick with and pursue anything that means a lot to you over a long period of time is an important indicator of achieving anything worthwhile in life.

Insanely creative people have enormous drive. When your goals align with your values, you are more likely to lose yourself in your pursuit. Talent alone is never enough.

Geniuses, past and present are normally identified by perseverance, concentration, insane drive, and absolute focus on the one thing they do well. Dedication of an unusual degree is required to achieve mastery.

Einstein had extremely high intelligence but he genuinely loved his pursuit of Relativity. He was constantly curious, and willing to consider radical new ideas.

He committed greater percentage of his productive years pursuing the Theory of Relatively. And it meant everything to him. Creative people have a strong desire to work hard and long on what they love doing.

In a letter to his son, Einstein urged him to play the piano, especially music that Hans enjoys, even if it was not assigned to him by his teacher. “This is the best way to learn much,” he says, “with joy, so that one is not aware of the time passing. I am often so absorbed in my work, that I forget lunch-time.”

They were brave enough to embrace the unknown

The willingness to take risks, to break with the safety of tradition, and step outside the comfort zone is necessary for creativity. You can only explore your full potential if you embrace the risk associated with doing something different.

You can’t reach the peak of your chosen career if you can’t tolerate the fear of the unknown. History’s creative geniuses risked more to get results. Unless you aim for comfort and stagnation, taking risks is imperative to every creative process.

They valued the process of their work as much as the destination. They enjoyed the process as much as the ultimate outcome. They viewed obstacles as opportunities to explore and make progress.

Picasso was once asked if he knew what a painting was going to look like when he started it. He answered, “No, of course not. If I knew, I wouldn’t bother doing it.”

To create a life that is both fulfilling and meaningful is hard. Much harder than following an already beaten path. There is no way to achieve greatness in your field without taking risks.

They explored their insatiable drive to learn, and create something far beyond themselves

Curiosity fuels imagination. It’s fundamental to your success. Your curiosity can lead you to your life’s work. Einstein, Picasso and Mozart embraced curiosity, were open to new ideas, and persistent despite career setbacks.

“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” Einstein once said. And Picasso also said “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.”

Hungarian photographer Brassaï once asked Picasso whether his ideas come to him “by chance or by design,” and Picasso responded:

“I don’t have a clue. Ideas are simply starting points. I can rarely set them down as they come to my mind. As soon as I start to work, others well up in my pen. To know what you’re going to draw, you have to begin drawing… When I find myself facing a blank page, that’s always going through my head. What I capture in spite of myself interests me more than my own ideas.”

Mozart was immersed in a musical culture and practice from early childhood — often cited as a key factor towards his genius. Despite personal challenges, he studied hard under his father to learn the techniques of the established masters including Bach, Handel and Haydn.

He once wrote to a friend about his commitment to music and said:

“People err who think my art comes easily to me. I assure you, dear friend, nobody has devoted so much time and thought to compositions as I. There is not a famous master whose music I have not industriously studied through many times.”

Nurturing and following your curiosity can help you discover meaningful work. Passion is not always obvious but curiosity can lead to amazing discoveries. Follow your curiosity and you will be amazed at where that leads you.

Before you go…

If you enjoyed this post, you will love Postanly Weekly. It’s my FREE weekly digest of the best science-based productivity, and self improvement posts from around the web. And my best posts of the week. Join over 14k readers!

Subscribe to the FREE Postanly Weekly digest here!

Here is what you missed last week!