In media, storytellers tend to present key breakthroughs by creatives in all kinds of fields as distinct, catalytic and movie-like moments of realization, where the creative protagonist suddenly puts pieces together that enlighten his path for the rest of his life. I doubt that’s actually ever the case. In fact, I claim that such unrealistic expectations can have a tremendously detrimental effect on creativity in general – whether in science, arts or entrepreneurship.
The path of a creative is a lot more dirty, slow and frustrating than that. It’s a much more dragged out and, at times, seemingly boring process. It’s a continuous succession of “mini-realizations” that bring small pieces of the puzzle together until the creator sees a picture that is aligned with that vision that appears to him or her every once in awhile in rare moments of magical clarity. As such, so-called Eureka moments are, similar to the concept of “luck”, something you work ten years for and can’t guarantee to attain in the end.
The reason why this is important to point out is because too many entrepreneurially-minded, yet directionless beginners, in any creative craft have this misconception burned into their minds. They expect to have massive revelations one or two years into working on something and get frustrated and dejected too early when it doesn’t happen the way they saw it at the movies. Or worse, they hope to start their entrepreneurial journey with a massive revelation of a unique idea that has never been tried before. Usually, they expect to receive such messianic visions on some sort of “spiritual trip”. That’s why we see the rise in gap years spent in places seemingly conducive to revelations such as India. After all, that’s how Steve Jobs realized his lifelong vision for bringing personal computing to the masses, right?
Unfortunately, I have a much more boring, alternative suggestion for the creation of revelatory moments: have trust and grit on your creative path. I truly believe that a creative in business, technology, science and arts needs to identify a spark of inspiration, which usually presents itself as a question of immense interest. The entrepreneur will follow that question mark into the darkness for long periods of time until that spark slowly transforms into a beacon of light illuminating the full picture of that life-long vision bit by bit. The journey does not start with a Eureka moment – it starts with curiosity. You need to trust that there’s something to that initial spark and have the grit to just keep going until that Eureka moment is pieced together at a snail’s pace.