Richard G. Petty, MD

Creativity and Resilience

“No great thing is created suddenly, any more than a bunch of grapes or a fig. If you tell me that you desire a fig, I answer you that there must be time. Let it first blossom, then bear fruit, then ripen.”
–Epictetus (Phrygian-born Greek Stoic Philosopher, c.A.D.55- c.A.D.135)

I have written several articles about resilience, and I have begun to talk about some of the methods for developing psychological resilience and also some of the potential consequences of not developing this essential psychological strength.

I’d also like to share with you another aspect of resilience: it is essential ingredient of creativity and of innovation.

I’ve had a longstanding fascination with the creative process, and one of the most robust findings in the research on extraordinary creative achievement is that even the greatest performers in their fields seem to produce the same ratio of undistinguished works to notable ones through their careers. The great chess player wins more often than the average one, but only sometimes produces a truly great creation. Even the best engineers and scientists conduct many unsuccessful experiments. The stories are legion of artists who produce many paintings and works of music that never win recognition and may not even be much good. Many great actors, directors, cricketers and companies have a great many failures behind – and sometimes in front  – of them.

Amongst the many attributes of the high achiever in each of these fields is a remarkable ability to bounce back, to detach from the apparent failure, to see it as an education, and to understand the importance of persistence and perseverance. To take a risk, to take a step back and to learn and adapt if at first it doesn’t succeed. This never means repeating the same strategies over and over again, it means being smart and not being fazed by failure

“Unless you are willing to try, fail miserable, and try again, success won’t happen.”
–Phillip Adams (Australian Broadcaster, Filmmaker, Archaeologist and Satirist, 1939-)

I was once working with a company that had just tried to launch a promising new medicine. The initial effort had been a flop and at the time that I became involved, the company had just fired the entire marketing team. Neither the company nor the recently departed team had had the chance to find out what had gone wrong and how to build something new and different. The new team had to start from scratch and, living in constant fear, was burning out at an astonishing rate. The real problem was the inflexibility of the company that was stifling creative solutions to problems. Once that was fixed, things began to improve very quickly.

If anyone ever says that they and the company never accepts failure, it is laudable but impractical.

It’s different if an enterprise fails because people are not pulling their weight; or failing to meet deadlines; or being overly rigid in interpreting rules or just goofing off. But if everyone is trying to help, learning, and being dynamic and flexible, then it’s best not to send them on their way, but instead to see how we can learn from a failure.

And the key for you personally and the key for your company is to learn to develop personal and corporate resilience. Then creative answers have the chance to start flowing.

“Results! Why, man, I have gotten a lot of results. I know several thousand things that won’t work.”
–Thomas Alva Edison (American Inventor, 1847-1931)

“No one succeeds without effort…. Those who succeed owe their success to their perseverance.”
–Ramana Maharshi (Indian Hindu Mystic and Spiritual Teacher, 1879-1950)

About Richard G. Petty, MD
Dr. Richard G. Petty, MD is a world-renowned authority on the brain, and his revolutionary work on human energy systems has been acclaimed around the globe. He is also an accredited specialist in internal and metabolic medicine, endocrinology, psychiatry, acupuncture and homeopathy. He has been an innovator and leader of the human potential movement for over thirty years and is also an active researcher, teacher, writer, professional speaker and broadcaster. He is the author of five books, including the groundbreaking and best selling CD series Healing, Meaning and Purpose. He has taught in over 45 countries and 48 states in the last ten years, but spends as much time as possible on his horse farm in Georgia.

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