Persistence is the 4th condition for individual creativity



The focus here is on individual conditions for creativity.  Jane Henry, one of the authors of the Open University Business School module, Creativity, Innovation and Change, claims that the 4 Ps are important as conditions for creativity.

These are

  • Positivity
  • Playfulness
  • Passion
  • Persistence

The last of these, Persistence, is required in order to build up the experience needed for understanding and addressing problem issues as well as enabling someone to continue beyond what would be considered ‘normal. It can be defined as steadfastness, or not wavering and turning away from opportunities or focus.

It seems that we live in a society which wants quick fixes and there is little time or often patience to build up expertise and yet some of the most successful inventions have arisen from this ability to take a long term perspective and be persistent.

I particularly like the quote from Thomas Edison, American Inventor of many things including the light bulb  “I haven’t failed. I have found 10,000 ways that don’t work,” 

Edison is also often quoted as saying  “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration”.  He went on to say “Accordingly a genius is often merely a talented person who has done all of his or her homework. The electric light has caused me the greatest amount of study and has required the most elaborate experiments. I was never myself discouraged, or inclined to be hopeless of success. I cannot say the same for all my associates.”  The light bulb was not a new idea,  but an old idea that he made work by his persistence,

I particularly like this quote which is often attributed to Edison but probably came from another source “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

Another example of persistence in innovation which is frequently quoted is the post-it note which originally was deemed a failure by its inventor Dr Spencer Silver. However it was picked up by Art Fry and eventually after 6 years it started to become a success.

So what does it take to remain persistent?

  • A strong belief that there is a way forward,  holding a vision of success and working in a steadfast manner towards this
  • Resilience , that is being able to bounce back from setbacks
  • Intrinsic motivation, being powered from within rather than dancing to some else’s tune.

As leaders we also need to recognise the support that people require to enable them to be persistent in terms of creativity and I list some of these here:

  • Encouragement
  • Acceptance of mistakes
  • Recognition
  • Opportunities to continuously develop enabling experience to build.
  • Time and space to be creative


 Barbara is a creative and leadership coach, facilitator and teacher who is passionate about enabling others to be creative in their lives