Innovative—that’s the word that springs to mind when we think of individuals like Steve Jobs, Arianna Huffington, and Evan Spiegel.
Like creativity, the word “innovation” has taken on a nearly celestial texture in our everyday language. We think of earth-shaking CEOs as people who receive a burst of divine inspiration, work their asses off, then careen themselves into millionaire status. The story we tell about innovators characterizes them as rare humans with the unique capacity of of being both lucky and hard-working. But according to a recent study conducted by the University of South Florida, innovation is innate within each of us—we simply need to cultivate the type of thought that awakens it.
According to Victor Poirier of the Institute for Advanced Discovery & Innovation at USF, this type of thought begins in the classroom. While innovation itself cannot be taught, school is the ideal arena for teaching us how to interact with the innovative qualities that we already possess. By nurturing traits including curiosity, positivity, abstract thinking and problem solving, passion, persistence, open-mindedness, and taking risks with no fear of failure, professors begin to wake the visionary that dwells within each student.
Poirier suggests that education’s ultimate goal should be to, “develop an educational process whereby we could show individuals how to fully utilize the [innovative] traits they have, [and] awaken traits that are dormant.” So instead of placing innovators on a pedestal, perhaps we should begin to recognize the traits that make them successful as ones that we have access to as well.
As Einstein once said, “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” Little did he know that he wasn’t just talking about himself—but a possibility that exists for each and every once of us.
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