Creativity—the ability to imagine things that do not exist and make them a reality—is said to be one of the things that elevates humans above other species. By its traditional definition, creativity is “the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.” Because of its relationship to the word creation, the idea of original has come to mean “out of thin air” and not relating to or from anything else.

However, the wisdom of today is challenging the idea of being able to create something from nothing.

For instance, some neuroscientists have been studying the creative process and research suggests that it is engaging and connecting our experiences and knowledge that leads to creativity, which further suggests that if we have not experienced or known some aspect of something there is actually no connection to be made, i.e. we cannot simply create something from nothing.

Along the same lines, we have probably all heard that there is a left side and right side of the brain, defined as the left side controlling creativity and the right controlling logic, with people designated as either left-brained or right-brained.

The neurological research of creativity suggests this is not true, that creativity is sparked by all hemispheres of the brain working to make connections. Therefore, the more we experience and learn, the better opportunity for our brain to connect the information.

It is often referred to as “stepping outside of your comfort zone,” simply meaning doing new things, no matter how scary or uncomfortable, to provide our brain with new experiences and perspectives. It may explain why the idea of opportunity is seemingly so closely linked with challenges or danger.

Again, whether it is fair or accurate, it’s been said the word for challenge and the word for opportunity in the Chinese language are indistinguishable. However, there are other instances of these two ideas being strongly connected. Many businesses perform SWOT analysis, which closely links the threats and opportunities that can affect the decision to pursue development of a new product, discontinue an existing product, or expand into a new market.

Ironically, it’s also evident in our mind and body’s reaction to challenges. Many of us may be resistant to the idea of skydiving, however, the chance to experience falling from the sky can hold enough intrigue and knowledge to overcome the fear of actually doing it. The same can hold for seemingly less knee-shaking exploits, such as engineers who study the culinary arts, actor/comedians who paint, or truckers who study dance. It’s all about, as they say, challenging ourselves.

For some insight—and broaden your experience and knowledge—on the challenges, opportunities, and evolution of 3D printing, check out “Additive Manufacturing in Production Presents Challenges, Opportunities for Quality” and everything else we have to offer in this month’s Quality.

Enjoy and thanks for reading!