I recently went to a talk at The Science Museum.
Stephen Hawking, James Dyson, Robert Winston, and Richard Dawkins.
Four people who range from merely brilliant to genius.
What I loved best was, as they talked, these brilliant men changed into little boys.
They were bubbling over with fun and playfulness and eagerness to ask questions about the world.
To discover everything they could about their environment.
Dying to share what they’d found out about how things work.
Full of questions and excitement.
Just the way a little child is knocked out just to be alive.
James Dyson talked about how Frank Whittle invented the jet engine before The Second World War.
And if the government had only listened we could have had jet airplanes fighting the Luftwaffe in The Battle of Britain.
Robert Winston talked about his medical hero.
Who, around 1780, had been able to remove a tumour twice the size of the man’s head.
Without anaesthetic, and without disfigurement.
Predating plastic surgery by nearly 200 years.
Richard Dawkins talked about the man who discovered natural selection at the same time as Darwin.
But humbly gave Darwin all the credit.
It was riveting to listen to these people because they loved what they did.
Dry, dull, academic subjects like science, chemistry, biology came alive.
And gradually it dawned on me what they all had in common.
They all had enquiring minds.
And I realised I was watching not only four very brilliant people.
But four creative people.
Because that’s what makes people creative.
An enquiring mind.
As de Bono says, “There are many people calling themselves creative who are mere stylists.”
And what separates the creative people from stylists is an enquiring mind.
Not just people who want to reshape or restyle an existing solution.
But people who say, “Why does it have to be that way?”
People who question the question.
People for whom the “?” at the end of a sentence is the most important part of the sentence.
I loved the energy, the buzz, the vitality, the aliveness.
The sense of discovery.
Not just rehashing what other people have done and trying to do it slightly better.
Questioning the very basis of what’s being done.
Seeing it doesn’t have to be done that way.
They thrill of upsetting accepted wisdom.
Discovering a new way.
A way no one else had found.
Or a way everyone else said wouldn’t work.
That’s true creativity.
And those four scientists/inventors/philosophers had it coming off them like sparks.
Asking what every creative person should always be asking.