Creativity is just one of a young entrepreneurs most valuable traits. We all hinge off our next big idea that could change our lives or the world. But when will our next great idea bubble out of our brains? An interesting study from the National Bureau of Economic Research has used science to determine what age the sweet spot for creative and breakthrough thinking is- your late thirties.
The study gathered the high points in the contemporary careers of great inventors and Nobel-Prize winning scientists based on when they discovered their most innovative ideas or completed their life’s greatest achievements over time. You can see how those career “high points” hit just before the age of 40 in the graphs below:
From a young person’s point of view, just before 40 seems a while off. Why so late then? The study suggests it all has to do with a life of education and experience. We seem to devote half our lives up to age 40 in school or learning new skills but once we go over the hill, we devote less and less time to acquiring knowledge. The graph also shows that with each generation of innovators, the peak falls later and later because the amount of learning and knowledge grows over time. It takes just a few more years each time to catch up to the great minds of the past:
One factor about this study to point out though is that not all entrepreneurs or artists fall in the same category as the greatest biochemists or nuclear physicists, but are rather more social science oriented; this is actually a good thing. The Atlantic article points out that, “There’s evidence from the humanities, though, that genius doesn’t decline with age at all. Over 40 percent of both Robert Frost’s and William Carlos Williams’ best poems were written after the poets turned 50. Paul Cézanne’s highest-priced paintings were made the year he died.” Kanye West is only 36, perhaps he has yet to make the world drop it’s jaws over his next boundless creation. So if you are still young and pressing your brain for genius and creativity every day, this study shows that your best may still be yet to come. Stay schemin’!