Innovation doesn’t discriminate – anyone in the world can come up with a great idea anywhere at any time and that is certainly encouraging for all mankind – especially those of us here at Quirky! However, there are some common characteristics and personality traits found in history’s most talented innovators and in the current day’s most inventive minds that bolstered their success. From Thomas Edison to Benjamin Franklin to Steve Jobs, we’ll highlight some of the most common and important personalities possessed by our culture’s greatest thinkers and doers.
Passionate – possibly one of the most obvious and necessary characteristics found in those inventors who have successfully turned their dreams and visions into a reality, is their passion for their craft, ideas and overall possibility in life. The proverbial road to invention is not straight, quick nor smooth; in order to weather the winding and sluggish paths of success laced with unforeseen roadblocks - simply in order to create something new and different - our world’s most accomplished inventors likely relied on their burning passion of achieving a better tomorrow when things got tough. We all have our own passions in life – how can you use yours to become a more inspired, determined inventor?
Curious – Curiosity might kill the cat, but it only fuels inventors to their next ground-breaking discovery. Take, for example, the great Thomas Edison, who invented the light bulb, phonograph, the motion picture and more. Edison understood the need to constantly ask questions in order to progress, and it was curiosity that led him into many different technical fields and allowed him to productively challenge the world in which he lived. Thankfully, he boiled down the basic process of inventing to a simple scenario we can all recreate, and is quoted as having said, “To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.”
Analytical – Though the art of inventing requires lots of creativity and imagination, the actual process of inventing is methodical and scientific – to get to “point C,” you must start at “point A” and cross through “point B.” First comes the idea, the lightbulb moment - the easy part. The tricky part is staying on task and practicing focus to achieve a desired outcome. A defining quality of the most famous and successful inventors is their ability to jump from creativity to analysis back to creativity once more; to take several steps back and objectively evaluate what they have dreamed up or even prototyped. This trait assists great thinkers in separating the actually possible ideas from the outlandish ones which saves time, energy and money. And ultimately leads to success.
Ability to see the “big picture” – It’s been said that “the devil is in the details,” meaning it’s the little stuff - a missed email, a miscommunication, a wrong label - that can easily unravel the best of plans or inventions and get us stuck in the weeds. Without a clear sense of the “big picture” and the end-goal to be achieved, it’s also very easy to go off-course, become overwhelmed and ultimately, give up. We should admire and emulate the intense focus displayed by some of history’s greatest inventors, and how they highlighted the need for their inventions in the societies in which they lived. Thinking several steps ahead, always with an unwavering vision of success in the front of your mind, is most certainly a crucial in ingredient in the recipe of success in the art of inventing – and really any business venture.
Open-minded – A savvy inventor knows that there is always more than one way to address a problem, or many different angles to approach a possible solution. As much as an inventor might believe in a concept they’ve envisioned, they know there may still be a better way and are open to feedback, other ideas, and additional ways to improve the final product. This trait was demonstrated freely by someone you may have heard of, Benjamin Franklin, inventor of bifocals, electricity conduction and even the first odometer. In the spirit of open-mindedness, Franklin felt that we should celebrate not only our own inventions, but also the inventions and creativity of others, since we all win when a great new idea comes to life.
A little fearlessness – By Quirky’s standards – and probably everyone else’s – we’d say Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Inc., which produces millions of Macs, iPhones, iPads, etc. every year, is one of modern day’s most successful inventors and business men. He was also sort of fearless – when it came to growing Apple and its influence, that is. Jobs believed so passionately in the vision of his company, that at times, he made controversial decisions that could’ve cost him everything. Yet, he pursued his goal, having an uncanny ability to push his company and employees to the limits without falling over the edge. Jobs wasn’t afraid of failure and because he took risks, he actually made it BIG time and was wildly successful.
Don’t fret if you might not have all these characteristics, for they can be honed and practiced, even if not second-nature. If you want to become more passionate about your inventions, assess whether you are inventing in a field or industry that truly excites you, without having to think twice. If not, focus on digging into to topics or issues that intrigue you and let your innate interest fuel your next great idea. If you want to be more fearless, take a couple calculated risks and see where those small steps leads. You might even gain some confidence along the way for your next big decision. And remember, you’ve got qualities unique to just you that could make you a great inventor, too; a special way of perceiving the world, an original way of thinking. So, own your strengths, be aware of your weaknesses and adopt some new helpful habits along the way – and there’s nothing you can’t do!