Nikola Tesla was an inventor, electrical engineer, and physicist. He’s seen as one of the greatest engineers and inventors of all time and is best known for his contributions to the modern electricity supply system. Tesla spent a great portion of his life alone with his work, and by not marrying he made a sacrifice that would grant him time and energy that he could use to create. He made a series of interesting remarks in regards to creativity and the creative process according to his own experience. This video is a humble attempt to turn his quotes into 7 lessons for creatives.
1) You must be sane to think clearly
There is a big difference between thinking deeply and thinking clearly. Generally, deep thinkers tend to be stuck in their heads; unaware of what’s happening around them. Their thoughts are often, not always, repetitive and obsolete. Tesla knew this and here’s what he said about it. I quote:
“The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.”Nikola Tesla
Excessive thinking can lead to mental illness, depression, and anxiety. Clear thinkers, however, have a well-developed sense of awareness. They can focus on the present moment very well, and their way of thinking is more efficient. Doing this requires a sane (or how I would call it) still mind. A still mind gives creativity room to grow.
2) Solitude is the secret of invention
Once again, the value of solitude is confirmed, and this time by Nikola Tesla. Ideas are mostly born when you are alone. And let’s face it: isn’t it true that most of your ´Eureka´ moments happen when you’re alone in the shower, on lone walks or laying in bed by yourself? Well, that’s because if you were with someone during those moments, you’d probably be chatting away, or doing.. you know what. When you want to create, it’s important to spend time alone. To quote Tesla:
“Be alone, that is the secret of invention; be alone, that is when ideas are born.”Nikola Tesla
3) Great inventors are not married
This might upset some people, but as a single man, Nikola Tesla had way more time than his married fellow men. He said and I quote:
“I do not think you can name many great inventions that have been made by married men.”Nikola Tesla
Although most people seek companionship in the form of a life partner and start a family, there are some downsides to this lifestyle. The lack of free time is one of them. Staying single, however – although it’s going against the grain – will most likely grant you an abundance of time. In your solitude you can fully focus on creating; there is no one asking for love and affection and you haven’t got the responsibility of raising children. It might be a lonely existence, yes, but being fully immersed in building your creation might be a pleasant and useful compensation.
4) Great things are ridiculed, condemned, combated and suppressed
Creating new things is often a firebox for ridicule and may evoke fear and hostility among people. The thing with humans is that they are naturally inclined to be afraid of the unknown. Tesla stated and I quote:
“All that was great in the past was ridiculed, condemned, combated, suppressed — only to emerge all the more powerfully, all the more triumphantly from the struggle.”Nikola Tesla
Throughout history, we’ve seen a pattern of people being very critical in regards to new inventions like television, cars, the internet and, as it’s happening right now, robotics and artificial intelligence. So, if your creative pursuits suddenly bring about a lot of resistance, you might be onto something.
5) Human’s greatest thrill is successful creativity
When it comes to creating, it’s a true joy when you see something from your brain getting shape in the material world. No matter if you’re writing a novel, painting a landscape, or building software; there’s nothing like seeing your creation grow and improve while you’re feeding it like an infant. To quote Tesla:
“I do not think there is any thrill that can go through the human heart like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success. Such emotions make a man forget food, sleep, friends, love, everything.”Nikola Tesla
6) Creativity comes from receiving
From my own experience, creativity, and willpower to not mix well. However, they do complement each other. You cannot will yourself into creativity, but by willpower, you can create the right environment for creativity to unfold an flourish. Like I mentioned before: a mind that is still is receptive to the creative flow. According to Tesla, creativity comes from a universal core. I quote:
“My brain is only a receiver, in the Universe, there is a core from which we obtain knowledge, strength, and inspiration. I have not penetrated into the secrets of this core, but I know that it exists.”Nikola Tesla
7) Invention is the creative brain´s most important product
Inventions from the creative brain have been suiting the human needs for ages. Without them, we would still be living in the stone age. Worse still, we would probably have never survived at all as a species. According to the book Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, humans were a terribly weak bunch of primates that fed mainly on leftover food from wild animals, like bone marrow. It’s because of our creative brain that we were able to climb to the top of the food chain, because of its smart tools and inventions. Let’s quote Nikola Tesla for the last time:
“Invention is the most important product of man’s creative brain. The ultimate purpose is the complete mastery of mind over the material world, the harnessing of human nature to human needs.”Nikola Tesla