Nikola Tesla is not as widely known as Thomas Edison. But those who know about him suggest that his genius for invention surpassed that of Edison. He lacked Edison's streetwise marketing savvy, but his vision broke new ground on so many levels. Even today Tesla is enjoying a resurgence, as environmentalists look back to his ideas for a free energy system and wonder what might have been, and what might still be resuscitated to save the world.
This article on Nikola Tesla will not explore his history in any great depth. So please avail yourself of the links to read more about him. This article seeks only to extrapolate from Tesla's life some of the secrets to his prodigious creative thinking. What enabled this giant of science and invention to brainstorm and develop ideas that are still being exploited and studied today, a century later? What can we emulate from Nikola Tesla's thinking style to unleash our own super creative abilities?
“I do not think there is any thrill that can go through the human heart like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success... Such emotions make a man forget food, sleep, friends, love, everything.”
~ Nikola Tesla
Tesla's Mind Lab
Nikola Tesla had extraordinary visual thinking powers. When he got an idea for a new machine, he was able to "set it up" in his mind and leave it running to see how it would work. His capacity for this was so developed that the results that he got in his mind were incredibly accurate. This was verified when it came to building prototypes for the new machine. He would already know exactly how it would perform because of his "Mind Lab" experiments.
The Extraordinary Mindpower of Nikola Tesla
"Tesla's mental abilities require some mention, since, not only did he have a photographic memory, he was able to use creative visualization with an uncanny and practical intensity.
He describes in his autobiography how he was able to visualize a particular apparatus and was then able to actually test run the apparatus, disassemble it and check for proper action and wear!
During the manufacturing phase of his inventions, he would work with all blueprints and specifications in his head. The invention invariably assembled together without redesign and worked perfectly.
Tesla slept one to 2 hours a day and worked continuously on his inventions and theories without benefit of ordinary relaxation or vacations. He could judge the dimension of an object to a hundredth of an inch and perform difficult computations in his head without benefit of slide rule or mathematical tables.
Far from an ivory tower intellectual, he was very much aware of the issues in the world around him, made it a point to render his ideas accessible to the general public by frequent contributions to the popular press, and to his field by numerous lectures and scientific papers."
Reading into his history, it seems that Nikola Tesla had strangely powerful visualisation abilities from an early age. Perhaps there was some mental abberation that lent him these abilities (there are suggestions that he had a form of autism that may have contributed to his savant abilities). For the rest of us, we need to develop our powers of visualisation. As with most things, this is something that can be done quite systematically and which improves with time and effort. My strongest recommendation is to practice image streaming and use a mind machine. Nothing opens the third eye of visualisation as readily as using the visual thinking stream on a regular basis.
Improving visualisation skills One of the best ways I ever discovered for improving my visualisation skills, was to simply sit in meditation and visualise a series of 3-dimensional geometric shapes rotating in the mind space in front of me. For example, I would visualise a translucent electric blue pyramid, and I would 'look' at it from all angles. I was able to see through it and see the structure and changing perspective of its angles. When I had done that for a few minutes, I would then introduce an orange sphere inside the pyramid and try and hold those two images. I might replace the sphere with a pink diamond and then place a third figure into the picture, like a small yellow cube inside the pink diamond or orange sphere. Maintaining three geometric shapes of different colors is hard to do for any length of time. Indeed to begin with you will struggle with one object. However a few minutes regular practice at odd moments through the day will soon improve your ability to stay concentrated. Try it out. You can then progress to visualising more complex things and situations. Tibetan Buddhists and Hindu Yogis have incredibly complex visualisation practices that involve visualising vast mandala images with different Diving beings inhabiting them. These kind of practices often led to the practitioner developing a photographic memory and powerful visual thinking skills (like Tesla) as well as 'opening the third eye' for psychic work.
“My method is different. I do not rush into actual work. When I get a new idea, I start at once building it up in my imagination, and make improvements and operate the device in my mind. When I have gone so far as to embody everything in my invention, every possible improvement I can think of, and when I see no fault anywhere, I put into concrete form the final product of my brain.”
~ Nikola Tesla
A Blind Man Learns To "See" Here's a great example of someone learning to develop extraordinary powers of visualisation, like Tesla. Mark Tew, who been blind since birth, read a braille version of the great book Superlearning in 1984 and realised it was just the thing he'd been searching for. He started practicing the accelerated learning techniques and before long his computer programming career just took off as he became the 'go-to' guy for troubleshooting. His bosses made him the chief debugger of all their software programs. Mark's story features in the updated sequel Superlearning 2000, where it says:
"Using his new skills in relaxation training and visualization plus the slow Baroque music that facilitates a connection to the subconscious mind, he found it easy to mentally picture an entire computer program. He could remember it and see it in his mind. "I can mentally find bugs because I can see what's happening with the program," he says. He didn't even have to go through the braille printouts. He developed a talent for visualization like the great Nikola Tesla, who could run entire experiments in his mind."
Here's a great Nightingale Conant audio program on super learning by Brian Tracy and Colin Rose. Superb way to get the info without having to read through books! ;-) I've got a copy on my shelves so it's a proper recommendation! Here it is:
Nikola Tesla came from a very troubled part of the world. He had seen poverty, pain and the sufferings of common people. Once established in America, much of the focus of his work was driven by humanitarian ideals. He wanted to make this world a better, easier place to live. He wanted to enable people to communicate with oneanother across vast distances. He wanted to help bring electricity to homes across the planet so that everyone could benefit from labour saving devices. He wanted there to be a free energy system that could ensure that everyone always had access to the energy sources they needed to operate their machinery, and transport systems. Some of his suggested inventions were aimed at preventing warfare. Tesla was driven to invent by his strong altruistic streak to help people and make this world a better place.
Your mission to get creative You can activate your own creative thinking by linking it to your own humanitarian, charitable and altruistic ideals. Since the beginnings of civilisation, mankind has been inspired to service. This may have been nationalistic service to the king, tribe leader or country. Or it may have been religious service, dedicating the work done to God, the gods or a spiritual leader. Or service done for the love of a romantic partner, family, community or for mankind in general. I like to think of the sense of purpose that the Knights of the Arthurian Legends had. Their call to service was so strong that they would gladly embark on arduous trials and fight against all manner of foes to achieve their mission and fulfil their commitment to service. Even if you are a complete pacifist, most of feel our chests swell with the idea of the heroic soldier battling for the cause. It's a kind of archetypal image that we can embrace to go to war "creatively" against the problems that face us personally, in our communities and companies, or in the world at large.
What inspires you? What could you do to make this world a better place?
Could you improve your local neighbourhood in some way that contributes to the greater wellbeing and safety of its residents (example: Guerilla Gardening)?
Could you invent something that will improve the lot of impoverished third world people like Trevor Bayliss and his windup technology radios, torches and computers?
Can you come up with a creative breakthrough in mediation that would help resolve conflict in the Middle East and bring desperately needed peace?
Will you use your mind to come up with a way to raise funds for your favourite charities and causes?
(If you don't feel particularly altruistic, can you at least think in terms of adding value to the world. If you can create services or products that add value... hey, you can make all kinds of money!)
When you ally your values, the causes you believe in, with your creative thinking ability, as Nikola Tesla did, you create an incredible sense of purpose that will fuel your drive to be creative and inventive for the good of the cause. To the degree that you do that and commit to it, watch out world!
Pragmatic and Practical Creativity
Compared to Edison, Nikola Tesla can come off looking like a bit of a country bumpkin when it came to business and the practical matters of getting an invention built, manufactured and accepted by the paying public. However, that is doing Tesla a great disservice. The fact is that Edison was a very smart man, who recognised that you need to educate your investors and your market to the value of a new idea. And he put a lot of his genius to work in ensuring that his inventions made him money -- and lots of it! Tesla was equally aware that an idea could be crushed if it wasn't understood or was launched at an inappropriate time, as this Tesla quote reveals:
“The practical success of an idea, irrespective of its inherent merit, is dependent on the attitude of the contemporaries. If timely, it is quickly adopted; if not, it is apt to fare like a sprout lured out of the ground by warm sunshine, only to be injured and retarded in its growth by the succeeding frost.”