Malcolm Gladwell recommended a book that changed my life: Old Masters and Young Geniuses: The Two Life Cycles of Artistic Creativity by scholar David Galenson.
Galenson’s research is fascinating because it challenges the idea that creativity is the purview of young people and that older successful creatives are anomalies if they do occur.
Based on 20 years of extensive research on Nobel Laureates and hundreds of case studies of elite innovators, artists, and entrepreneurs (Mark Twain, Charles Darwin, Ray Kroc, Robert Frost, Warren Buffett, Georgia O'Keeffe, Paul Cézanne, Louise Bourgeois, etc.), Galenson argues that late bloomers aren’t anomalies. Rather, they reveal a second type of creative achievement and methodology that is just as normal as young creativity.
For these late bloomers, more knowledge and wisdom aren’t curses that makes their thinking rigid. Rather, they are blessings that add more degrees of creative possibility.
Galenson’s thesis is a big deal—way bigger than it se…