People often ask me whether innovation or creativity is nature or nurture.  Are we born with it or not?  And the answer is, both.  There are five or six studies of genetically identical twins that are separated at birth.  They grew up in different family environments.  They’re tested for creativity when they become adults and about one-third of their creativity or innovation skills are indeed sourced from their genetics – their DNA.  The other two-thirds, though, come from the world we grow up in and the world we work in.  

So if I want to be creative, I can.  One way of thinking about this is four-year-olds.  Four-year-olds everywhere in the world are successful innovators. They ask lots of questions.  They observe like anthropologists.  They talk to just about anybody.  They totally think differently.  They do the things that innovators do. 

How many of us were once four years old?  And the answer is we all were.  And that means everyone - you and I - we have more creative capacity than we think. 

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock