Recently my toddler has begun playing with Duplo, which is Lego for really young children.

And while usually he loves it, it also often causes him to become incredibly frustrated when things do not work as he wants.

This is when he might begin shouting and throwing the pieces away.

A perfect example is when he has built a tower with a wide top, and wants to attach a long flat piece to the bottom side of the top. This would require some good hand-eye coordination for a adult, but since he has not learned this yet, he tries to push the top piece downwards, causing the whole top to break apart.

This, as you can imagine, must be hugely frustrating.

And it reminds me of our own creative journeys, when we might have an overall idea of the ambitious ideas we want to achieve, but have not yet built up the skills over time to achieve this.

In fact, creative and innovative people often face the frustration of having ideas which would require skills beyond their current capabilities to achieve and perform.

A perfect example of this is a story from Charlie “Bird” Parker, one of the most influential and creative Jazz saxophonists of all time.

He was instrumental in the development of the complicated Bebop style of jazz. However, while he allegedly practiced for up to 15 hours a day to hone his skill, sometimes the ideas he was trying to play were still too complicated for his current capability and beyond his ability to perform.

According to a biography of his life, at an early jam session he failed when trying to perform at a level beyond his capabilities:

In late spring 1936, Parker played at a jam session at the Reno Club in Kansas City. His attempt to improvise failed when he lost track of the chord changes.

This prompted Jo Jones, the drummer for Count Basie’s Orchestra, to contemptuously remove a cymbal from his drum kit and throw it at his feet as a signal to leave the stage.

Yet this humiliating failure did not stop Parker. He kept honing his craft and skills, and was eventually able to not only perform at the highest level, but take the whole art-form in new directions.

What eventually made him a success was continually growing beyond his current capabilities.

He was spurred on by hearing the music he wanted to play in his head, and needed the rest of his body and skills to catch up in order to finally succeed at performing it.

What determines the eventual success of creative and innovative people is not necessarily always having the skills to perform at the highest level.

What is more important is to have the growth mindset and grit to work through the tough times when your ambitions outweigh your current skills.

Just like I know my son will continue playing with Lego, getting better at it, and eventually making objects he cannot even imagine at the moment.

Did you know that scientific evidence shows your creativity decreases over time

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Creativity & Innovation expert: I help individuals and companies build their creativity and innovation capabilities, so you can develop the next breakthrough idea which customers love. Chief Editor of and Founder / CEO of Improvides Innovation Consulting. Coach / Speaker / Author / TEDx Speaker / Voted as one of the most influential innovation bloggers.