Ingredients for Creative Genius

This summer, I found creative genius during a vacation to Nova Scotia. Postponed from 2020, we were thrilled to explore the beautiful Canadian Province with the most beautiful white sand (and cold water!) beaches.

We settled down for 4 days on the Cabot Trail in Baddeck. I didn’t know why, but there was an Alexander Graham Bell museum in Baddeck.
Seemed kind of random?

Well, Mr. Bell came to Canada from Scotland to help teach the hearing impaired. From there, he went to Boston where he met his wife and continued his work that culminated in the invention of the phone.. 

His love for Canada and Scotland prompted Bell to purchase land in Baddeck, to escape the heat of the city in an area that reminded him of home. At this working family retreat, he built an institute to advance inventions and ideas to change humanity.

Although we know Bell for the invention of the phone, I learned in the museum that he had many other inventions. Some were….pretty bad. In fact, he spent years and years developing a hydrofoil, a fast boat that flew across the water on sketchy looking stilt like things. 

Display of hydrofoil invented by Alexander Graham Bell that never took off as a mode of transportation. Half plane half boat.
Alexander Graham Bell Museum – Hydrofoil – Creative Genius or Massive Failure?
Caroline sits with back to camera in red Parks Canada Chairs and is turned to look at the camera, with Bras D'Or lake and Alexander Graham Bell museum in distance

Check it out:

Image from Alexander Graham Bell Museum with model of early telephone

Walking around the museum, a few things struck me about Bell’s life.

Curiosity drives the Creative Genius

Bell delighted in exploration for the sake of curiosity. He followed his curiosity, sometimes driven from tragic events. The loss of a child led him to develop a breathing apparatus. Other inventions include an early attempt for those with impaired hearing to communicate with a special glove (pictured below), and to continue his father’s work with Visible Speech.

Museum display at Alexander Graham Bell museum of glove used for sign language - creative genius


Bell’s mother and wife were both hearing impaired, driving Bell to find solutions and strategies to allow them to communicate.  Because of his love for these women, he was highly motivated to find creative ways to ease their challenges.

Embrace The Uncertainty

How would Bell know that his deep dive into sound, the human ear, and electricity would lead to the development of the phone? 

How would I know the building a jewelry business online (to be home more with my young kids) would lead me to my business coach, which led me to stand up comedy and a reconnection of my love for performance and speaking?  

Steve Jobs said you can’t join the dots going forward, only backwards.

But I am going to add that – you have to start making some dots before you can see how they make sense.

No dots = no growth

Lifelong Learner

Bell surrounded himself with prominent scientists and drove his curiosity to learn more about the world. Driven by curiosity and a desire to solve problems, he approached problems with driven determination. Bell’s creative genius was fueled by a deep desire to solve important (and unimportant) problems.

Did you know that Bell and his brother taught a dog to speak?

I can’t imagine my teenagers taking months to train a dog to sit, let alone talk, like Bell did as a youth. In another long study, after 30 years of breeding sheep, Bell disproved his hypothesis that multi nippled sheep were more likely to bear twins. That’s a long study. And shows Bell’s intellectual humility, because 30 years is a long time to build up some good old fashioned confirmation bias, to look for evidence to support his original idea instead of blowing it up.


Bell was known to take time to ponder and allow his imagination to help guide his inventions. He had a “dreaming place” in Brantford, Ontario, where the idea for the telephone emerged from the ether of his brain.

Preparation for Creativity

Bell was always prepared with the tools that he needed for the job.

Display from Alexander Graham Bell museum of assorted tools used by Bell for his creative genius


From 30 years of sheep breeding, to an experimental metal detector that was used to try to locate a bullet in President Garfield (it didn’t work because of interference from the metal table), Bell was always willing to fail.

In fact, touring the museum it was quite clear that he had way more failures than successes. And I’m not talking about an idea at a meeting that people don’t like. I’m talking a full 30 years of research on sheep, or teams of researchers working on the hydrofoil. That’s a big failure, but it didn’t faze this famous creative genius.

So, if you want to channel a bit of Sir Alexander Graham Bell’s creative genius, consider your curiosity.

Thrill in the excitement of learning for the sake of discovery. Try wacky things, if you think they are worth pursuing, or even if they aren’t, and they make you happy.

And, if you can focus on a goal to help others it may lead you to the greatest accomplishment of your life. 

In Other News…

The latest episode of Creative Lifescaping, “Healthcare Recruiting with a Twist,” features guest Rollis Fontenot!

Rollis Fontenot III is a national speaker, live stream host, author, Forbes Business Council Member and founder of HR Maximizer Inc, the only subscription-based talent acquisition service of its kind in the US that helps healthcare organizations attract qualified applicants on the hardest to fill jobs primarily using a proprietary combination of video creation, technology and a collaborative team approach.

Rollis and I will discuss shaking up the status quo in a traditional industry. We will explore how he uses creativity to find new and more effective ways to get boots on the ground where it’s needed.

Watch and learn Rollis’ techniques so you can adapt them to get better results in your life, whether you are a recruiter or just looking to do something a little different.

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If you live in Calgary, you can read the book for free by checking it out from the Calgary Public Library.

Put it on your hold list here!

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