Elvis, creativity and persistence

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In his blog post, There's No Room to Rhumba in a Sports Car, Eaon Pritchard makes some great observations about the creative process. He draws on the career of Elvis Presley.

Eaon argues that for eight years following his national service, Elvis produced some of his least impressive work, including the song "There's no room to rhumba in a sports car."

It was only in 1968 that things changed, with the now-famous comeback TV special on NBC.

Eaon asks: "Was it, in fact, a necessary process for Elvis to go through that period of creative failure during 60-67 in order to come out the other side bigger bolder and stronger?"

He continues:

"In The Origins of Genius the psychologist Dean Simonton argues that creativity can best be understood as a Darwinian process of variation and selection.

The successful artist generates a ton of ideas, and then subjects these ideas to some sort of judging criteria, then lets loose only those that appear to have the best chance to survive and reproduce...

The creative person who can pump out more ideas than the rest of us will have far more bad ideas than the rest of us, too. But, critically, they will probably also have more good ideas."


It's easy to look back on great creative acts and see them as flashes of genius, missing the long, persistent work that has gone before. And each mediocre effort along the way can teach us; the failures are not separate from the success, they are part of it.

We're big fans of rapid prototyping, of ideas and of behaviour. We try to create safe spaces in groups to try things out. We try not to get too bothered about efforts that seem to fail. And we also like to experiment with persisting through boredom, the feeling that a process has run its course. Often we find that if we don't run away from boredom and frustration, it can turn out to be a prelude to something really interesting happening.

(Photo by Holger Link on Unsplash)