On Ingenuity

With some caveats (see one below), research concludes that grit is a strong predictor of success.1 If you can dust yourself off and get back up after a fall or a fight you’ll most likely reach your destination and achieve your goals. This also jibes with what that little voice (the good one) is probably already saying: Don’t stop; stick to it; just adjust. There are quite a few groups of people that know this by heart, regardless of what corroborating research states, because they’ve learned they have to put their whole heart into what they do if they’re even to come close to victory—’til the wheels fall off, all or nothing, eyes on the prize. 

Artists, including those of the literary and musical variety, are one such group. 

Grit takes many forms. The one I find most helpful is ingenuity.

Per Merriam Webster, 

in·​ge·​nu·​i·​ty | \ ˌin-jə-ˈnü-ə-tē, -ˈnyü- \
plural ingenuities
Definition of ingenuity
1 a : skill or cleverness in devising or combining : INVENTIVENESS

   b: cleverness or aptness of design or contrivance
2 : an ingenious device or contrivance

Artists (and working class folks, who are uncoincidentally often the same folks, at least for a time) figure out how to make the bills and still make their own work. Shepherding a piece out of your head and into the world can be more than a full time job. Successfully working a full time job on top of that can require skills of combining and devising on par with any serial entrepreneur or mother of 4. 

I thought I was going to write about time management this week, but found it’s really a broader approach that I think is most important, a certain spirit, and that is the spirit of ingenuity. That’s where the magic happens. That’s how you create worlds on your lunch break, write symphonies in the shower. 

Ingenuity, resilience, and integrity together are pretty unstoppable. They are some of the qualities in others that I most admire and respect. 

I’ve said it before and no doubt will again: be dangerously clever (in the most benevolent sense of course—not archvillain dangerously clever, exceed-all-expectations dangerously clever). It will make your world and the world better.

1Some research is apparently unaware of the advantages of generational wealth and the disadvantages of systemic oppression. I’m not debating this. There’s no need.

Tenea D. Johnson


Leave a Reply

Become a Creative Pinellas Supporter