Creativity is fuelled by adversity and pain


What are the conditions necessary for creativity to happen? PayPal is a global online payment platform. It represents one of the great innovations of the internet era. How would you feel if you knew that of the six people who started the company, four of them had built bombs in high school!

Also, Apple founder Steve Jobs used to walk around barefooted and even rebelled against the system by refusing to get registration plates for his car! What exactly goes on in the heads of creatives? A dissatisfaction of what is which induces the thoughts of what can be.

If you are surrounded by normal (mediocre) people, your creativity will look out of place and you may begin to feel intimidated and think that there is something wrong with you. If everyone always agrees with you then maybe you are not doing anything significant.

The majority can never agree with creativity at its onset. Visionaries are people who refuse to be intimidated by their uniqueness. They refuse to be controlled by precedent. They do not see failure and success as opposites. They know that success is a point on the road to greater success and failure is a point on the road to success.

Failure and success are therefore same sides of a coin. Adversity like dissatisfaction induces creativity. Like I mentioned in last week’s article, creativity does not happen in spite of but rather because of adversity.

The media sponsored a survey on the mind of the millionaire. The objective of the survey was to see the unique characteristics that ran in the minds of entrepreneurs who have through their enterprise become millionaires. One of such characteristics was a feeling of being an outsider.


They did not belong to the establishment and as such always had to prove something. Another attribute was that they often felt like they had their backs pushed against a wall. They had to do something or perish. It was a unique blend of desperation and determination with nothing to lose that propelled them forward. Now a very interesting twist in the survey was when they identified another place where the millionaire mind seemed to be in abundance — in prisons. Yes.

The research discovered that the same drive, hunger and determination which ran in the minds of entrepreneurs was also present in the minds of some criminals. In the same vein, isn’t it interesting that a higher number of successful entertainers, athletes and first time millionaires did not come from wealth. In fact many came from poverty. Adversity births creativity.

A person who is hungry, poor, brilliant and ambitious is likely to be more creative than a person who seems to have it all together because many have reached the comfort plateau where the drive to be creative is just not there anymore. The good news however is that creativity can be induced and that is what I want to do to you at the event tonight.

I am in no way telling you to make a bomb. Neither am I telling you to become a criminal or to rebel against the law. What I am telling you is this. If your thought process is exactly like the thought process of the masses, you will not get a different result from that of the masses. If average minded mediocre people are comfortable with your thinking then the blunt truth is that you are one of them. Average and mediocre.

Africa is ripe for a creative revolution. We have fulfilled all the conditions. We are restless. We are inquisitive. We defy laws. We rebel by default. We have been hungry and we contend with adversity daily. Let us stamp out mediocrity and embrace a new wave of creativity to transform our lives, our businesses and indeed our Nation.

Join me on Friday evening at the St Andrews PCEA church hall (at the roundabout of University Way and Uhuru Highway) as we ignite, inspire and induce a creative revolution in Kenya. Admission is free!