mistakes mistakes Some mistakes can lead to successes. (Photo: deviyanthi79 / Shutterstock)

The secrets to achieving creative breakthroughs in your life

Prize-winning scientist Mario Livio, who studied Einstein’s thought processes, reveals 5 tips about genius.

Whether you're drawing a picture, searching for a gene or coming up with a great first date, you probably struggle to hit on the perfect idea. Israeli astrophysicist Mario Livio, who worked on the Hubble Telescope for decades, is fascinated by the creative process. With three degrees under his belt – from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Weizmann Institute and Tel Aviv University – Livio is one smart guy. In addition to doing scientific research of his own, he wrote the book "Brilliant Blunders," which describes how scientists like Albert Einstein and Charles Darwin made mistakes in ways that led to breakthroughs.

According to Livio, some kinds of mistakes are useful, while others just waste your time. If you want to follow in Einstein's footsteps, you should...

Think of as many ideas as you can

Leonardo da VinciOver 7,000 pages of Leonardo da Vinci's drawings, ideas and natural inspirations have been preserved. (Photo: The British Library)

Broaden your chances of hitting on a solution by coming up with a lot of potentially decent ideas (and a lot of terrible ones).

“Try to apply knowledge from one discipline in other disciplines," Livio told From the Grapevine. "This often leads to creative solutions.”

That doesn't mean your mind can come up with every option. "There are always some unknown unknowns," explained Livio. But it's worth it to do your best to cover as much mental territory as possible.

Talk to mentors

YodaEvery Luke needs a Yoda. (Photo: Lucasfilm)

It's fine to be inexperienced. You'll naturally make a lot of mistakes; that's to be expected. But it can be a problem when you don't ask for guidance from experts who could save you a lot of time.

"If you know that you are inexperienced, then you should try to avoid the mistakes that are done because you are inexperienced," said Livio. And you can avoid those mistakes by talking to someone who has already made them.

Stop being sloppy


Even though some mistakes get you closer to brilliant ideas, others just waste time. Careless mistakes are time-wasters.

If you mess things up because you're just not paying enough attention, then you're not being innovative. You're being sloppy, and that "absolutely should be avoided," Livio said.

Stop following the crowd

Don't fight the crowds to get to your favorite sporting event, use FanZone to take advantage of easy transportation options, special discounts and game-day fun.Crowds are great for sports, but they can keep you from unique ideas. (Photo: Sergei Bachlakov/Shutterstock)

Some people think progress is a "direct march to the truth," explained Livio. But according to his research, history's greatest thinkers had to take odd turns to come up with something new.

"Sometimes, this may lead to blunders. No question about that. But occasionally, it might lead to breakthroughs," he pointed out. "You should not be afraid of thinking outside the box."

But don't ignore the crowd, either

aloneOne is the loneliest number. (Photo: Antonio Guillem/Shutterstock)

Crowds have a good deal of wisdom. They represent the collective intelligence of experts who have been doing what you're doing much longer than you have.

"If you all the time are outside the mainstream, that’s probably not good," Livio told us. "It's hard to believe there isn’t some truth in what the mainstream thinks."


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The secrets to achieving creative breakthroughs in your life
Prize-winning Israeli scientist Mario Livio, who studied Einstein’s thought processes, reveals 5 tips about genius.