History's Inventive Minds Say You Don't Have to Be Original to Be Creative

An idea does not necessarily need to be unique or widely accepted. It just needs to be yours. Here are nine quotes to inspire you.

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By Peter Gasca • Sep 4, 2014

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Entrepreneurs have a tough job.

They are responsible for leading and inspiring diverse teams of all sizes while carrying the pressures of the business on her or his shoulders. All the while, they are often looked upon to be the creative mind of the organization, spewing out remarkable and amazingly unique ideas like an open faucet.

Being creative, however, gets more difficult if you allow yourself to fall into the paradigm that creativity is linked to originality, especially since originality is completely subjective and will always be relative to the experiences of others.

Related: Inspire the Innovation Monster Within

Creative minds throughout history have long embraced the idea that to be creative, you need not necessarily be original, nor should you concern yourself with the opinions of others. Consider these insights of some of the greatest creative minds throughout history.

Originality is nothing but judicious imitation. -- Voltaire

The common misconception is that to be creative, you need to be churning out one-of-a-kind ideas. Often, the best new ideas are just better iterations on older ones.

Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way. -- Edward de Bono

Creativity also comes from looking at existing challenges from alternative angles.

Creativity is the power to connect the seemingly unconnected. -- William Plomer

Other times, an idea blossoms from tapping into and pulling together many different and relatively unrelated ideas.

Making the simple complicated is easy. Making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity. -- Charles Mingus

Sometimes, simply improving on an existing idea, making it easier to use or understand, will result in an amazing new innovation in and of itself.

Creativity comes from the conflict of ideas. -- Donatella Versace

Related: 5 Quotes to Get Your Creative Juices Flowing

Getting out of your comfort zone, where most individuals like to operate, will provide you with a completely different perspective and will most likely spark creativity.

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. -- Steve Jobs

The simple truth is that creativity is like a muscle: the more you work it, the stronger it becomes. Regardless of how original or creative your ideas are, you should be engaging in the act of creating, over and over again.

Write while the heat is in you. The writer who postpones the recordings of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with. He cannot inflame the minds of his audience. -- Henry David Thoreau

Remember that you can and should find inspiration even when you are not operating in your creative routine, as long as you are willing and ready to allow yourself to react to it.

My work is utterly incomprehensible and is therefore full of deep significance. -- Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes

It is just fact that great creativity, regardless of how original it might be, will often be misunderstood at first. The level of misunderstanding is often directly proportional to the uniqueness of an idea.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses. -- Henry Ford

If your creativity routine leads you to ideas that may be perceived as unoriginal or outlandish, do not give up on them quickly. You may be on to something that is just too complex for others to comprehend. Learn how to communicate your idea effectively so others will understand and rally behind it.

Creative originality is also highly subjective to the people you are sharing it with. You cannot allow yourself to get distracted with the opinions of others, as great creativity is rarely inspired by the masses.

Before you get down on yourself for failing to come up with the next remarkable idea, just remember that the simple act of creating is remarkable.

So what are you waiting for?

What are some of your favorite quotes about originality? Please share with others below.

Related: Powerful Ways to Overcome Creative Block

Peter Gasca

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer

Management and Entrepreneur Consultant

Peter Gasca is an author and consultant at Peter Paul Advisors. He also serves as Executive-in-Residence and Director of the Community and Business Engagement Institute at Coastal Carolina University. His book, One Million Frogs', details his early entrepreneurial journey.

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