From David Bohm’s book “On Creativity”:

“Recall … the kind of interest that a young child shows when he is learning to walk. If you watch him, you will see that he is putting his whole being into it. Only this kind of whole-hearted interest will give the mind the energy needed to see what is new and different, especially when the latter seems to threaten what is familiar, precious, secure, or otherwise dear to us.”

Two good points from these few sentences alone. Firstly, to do what is new and different, we need to focus on one thing. Our whole being needs to be focused on what we’re trying to do. Secondly, being different always seems dangerous in that it threatens what we are familiar with.

Imagine if a child learning to walk decides that it is too dangerous to try walking. He might fall (which he probably does at the early stages), he could hurt himself. So he decides that it’s risky and decides not to walk, and instead wants to go the rest of his life crawling. We all know that it’s not in the child’s best interest to do so. And yet that is what we tend to do in our daily lives. Afraid of failure, we decide that doing something new, taking a step out, is too risky, and that it is better to just stick with what we are familiar with.

But is that really the best way for progress? I don’t think so. It isn’t even how we were made. We weren’t originally meant to be that way, to be afraid of trying something new. As a child, we learn to walk and to talk by trying and adjusting what we do to the outcome of the trial. “Trial and error”, if you will. That is how we discovered the world as a child, and as such, we learned to be creative, to step out and try different things. And all just for the sake of bettering ourselves. As we grew up, we were educated out of that. In school, we are all taught to do things the same way, and we are taught to drill ourselves by practise and repetition, in order to do well for exams, not for the pursuit of knowledge or to bettering ourselves. And we are educated to avoid failure at all costs. In this way, we are educated out of creativity.

We need to rediscover the mindset of our childhood, to learn purely for progress (for ourselves or for society on a whole), and to focus all our energies on one thing that we are doing and not be afraid of failure. We need to learn to see things in a new and different light, to not be afraid to try (and possibly fail) in doing things that are different. Only by doing this can we progress.

Disclaimer: A large part of this post is inspired by David Bohm’s book, On Creativity. You can purchase it here, and I highly recommend that you do. I’ve only read the first couple of chapters, but it is really an insightful, brilliant book.