Creativity Is Connecting Things

It isn't just turtles, elephants or rocks all the way down. It's actually ideas all the way down.

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something.” — Steve Jobs

Ideas are everywhere and behind everything we do. They permeate the fabric of our lives.

Ideas float around in the conscious and subconscious parts of our minds. Some are planted there from experiences in life. Others are simply imagined, popping up spontaneously at odd moments.

Rarely, if ever, does an idea spring forth from nothing.

The true nature of ideas lies within the connections we make between them. Those connections form new ideas. They are like composites, one built from many in an infinite regress.

It's funny to imagine the world as supported by turtles, elephants or rocks all the way down, but the truth is this: It's ideas all the way down.

Creativity is the act of connecting ideas in interesting ways to produce something new:

  • From logic to art.

  • From imagination to reality.

  • From one context to another.

The brain is a problem solving engine. It loves to answer interesting questions. It loves to connect things. It loves to create.

The most powerful ideas tend to be created by connecting seemingly unrelated ideas across contexts or disciplines. These connections often come from trial and error. Sometimes they are sparked by a small observation or an unexpected occurrence that results in an epiphany.

Einstein connected the ideas of energy and mass. Leonardo da Vinci used his understanding of anatomy in art and engineering. The printing press, the steam engine, electric lights, steel, transistors... one innovation after another was made by connecting things.

Who knows where the next innovation may originate... perhaps from two ideas you unexpectedly connect.