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Creative quotations for brainstorming and lateral thinking

Here is an invaluable list of motivational and inspirational quotations on creativity, lateral thinking and problem solving. Understand their wisdom and use them to motivate yourself and others. Use specialist software such as Brainstorming Toolbox to develop new ideas easily
Think about each one and discover how valid it is to you.

The quotes below are in alphabetical order by surname. To view the same quotes in a random order, click here



A successful work of art is not one which resolves contradictions in a spurious harmony, but one which expresses the idea of harmony negatively by embodying the contradictions, pure and uncompromised, in its innermost structure.

Theodore Adorno

Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world!

Joel Arthur Barker

When you come to a roadblock, take a detour. Mary Kay Ash

To ask the hard question is simple.

W.H. Auden

I'm not young enough to know everything.

J.M. Barrie

The sorcery and charm of imagination, and the power it gives to the individual to transform his world into a new world of order and delight, makes it one of the most treasured of all human capacities.

Frank Barron

Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the men of old; seek what they sought.

Matsuo Basho

If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.

William Blake

What is now proved was once only imagined.

William Blake

Life is "trying things to see if they work".

Ray Bradbury

We have to understand that the world can only be grasped by action, not by contemplation. The hand is more important than the eye... The hand is the cutting edge of the mind.

Jacob Bronowski

The good ideas are all hammered out in agony by individuals, not spewed out by groups.

Charles Brower

God spare me sclerosis of the curiosity, for the curiosity which craves to keep us informed about the small things no less than the large is the mainspring, the dynamo, the jet propulsion of all complete living.

John Brown

Whenever man comes up with a better mousetrap, nature immediately comes up with a better mouse.

James Carswell

No matter how old you get, if you can keep the desire to be creative, you're keeping the man-child alive.

John Cassavetes

If you really want something you can figure out how to make it happen. Cher

One sees great things from the valley, only small things from the peak.

G.K. Chesterton

When the way comes to an end, then change - having changed, you pass through.

I Ching

No idea is so outlandish that it should not be considered with a searching but at the same time steady eye.

Winston Churchill

It is a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link in the chain of destiny can be handled at a time.

Winston Churchill

Perfect solutions of our difficulties are not to be looked for in an imperfect world.

Winston Churchill

Imagination is the living power and prime agent of all human perception.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Music is the art of thinking with sounds.

Jules Combarie

No one travels so high as he who knows not where he is going.

Oliver Cromwell

I was taught that the way of progress is neither swift nor easy. Marie Curie

Creative thinking is not a talent, it is a skill that can be learnt. It empowers people by adding strength to their natural abilities which improves teamwork, productivity and where appropriate profits.

Edward de Bono

It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to be always right by having no ideas at all. Edward de Bono

There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns.

Edward de Bono

Intelligence is something we are born with. Thinking is a skill that must be learned.

Edward de Bono

It is not enough to just do your best or work hard. You must know what to work on.

W. Edwards Deming

It is not enough to have a good mind, the main thing is to use it well.

Rene Descartes

Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of imagination.

John Dewey

The whole difference between construction and creation is exactly this: that a thing constructed can only be loved after it is constructed; but a thing created is loved before it exists.

Charles Dickens

Knowledge is being applied to knowledge itself. It is now fast becoming the one factor in production, sidelining both capital and labour.

Peter Drucker

Genius is one percent inspiration, and ninety-nine percent perspiration.

Thomas Edison

The world we have made as a result of the level of thinking we have done thus far creates problems we cannot solve at the same level of thinking at which we created them.

Albert Einstein

Imagination is more important than knowledge.

Albert Einstein

To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle requires a creative imagination and marks the real advances in science.

Albert Einstein

Reality is an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.

Albert Einstein

If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.

Albert Einstein

Imagination is more important than knowledge. For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create.

Albert Einstein.

Where is the wisdom that we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

T.S. Elliot

The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

People are disturbed, not by things, but by the views they take of them.


Whether you believe you can, or whether you believe you can't, you're absolutely right.

Henry Ford

The more you think, the more time you have.

Henry Ford

In the creative state a man is taken out of himself. He lets down as it were a bucket into his subconscious, and draws up something which is normally beyond his reach. He mixes this thing with his normal experiences and out of the mixture he makes a work of art.

E.M. Forster

To take the difficulties, setbacks and sorrows of life as a challenge to overcome makes us stronger, rather than unjust punishment which should not happen to us, requires faith and courage.

Erich Fromm

Inventions have long since reached their limit, and I see no hope for further development.

Julius Frontinus (Highly respected engineer in Rome, 1st century A.D.)

The brain is a wonderful organ; it starts the moment you get up in the morning and does not stop until you get to the office.

Robert Frost

Microsoft is a company that manages imagination.

Bill Gates

Persistence is the hard work that you do after you are tired of doing the hard work you already did .

Newt Gingrich

What you can do, or dream you can, begin it; boldness has genius, power and magic in it.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward. They may be beaten, that they may start of winning game.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

If you wish to advance into the infinite, explore the finite in all directions.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The ultimate solutions to problems are rational; the process of finding them is not.

W. Gordon

To live is to have problems and to solve problems is to grow intellectually.

J.P. Guilford

Held in the palms of thousands of disgruntled people over the centuries have been ideas worth millions - if they only had taken the first step and then followed through.

Robert M. Hayes

Children between the ages of two and seven are very imaginative. This is the best period for the development of imagination, creativity and thinking abilities.

Chiam Heng Keng

People change and forget to tell each other. Lillian Hellman

A moment's insight is sometimes worth a life's experience.

Oliver Wendell Holmes

The human mind once stretched by a new idea never goes back to its original dimensions.

Oliver Wendell Holmes

The profit of great ideas comes when you turn them into reality.

Tom Hopkins

Greater than the tread of mighty armies is an idea whose time has come.

Victor Hugo

What is originality? Undetected plagiarism.

Dean Inge

In the dim background of our mind we know what we ought to be doing but somehow we cannot start.

William James

You cannot mandate productivity, you must provide the tools to let people become their best.

Steve Jobs

Curiosity is one of the most permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous mind.

Samuel Johnson

He who has imagination without learning has wings and no feet.

Joseph Joubert

It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.

Ursula K. Le Guin

A person needs a little madness, or else they never dare cut the rope and be free.

Nikos Kazantzakis

Ideas shape the course of history.

John Maynard Keynes

The conventional army loses if it does not win. The guerilla wins if they do not lose.

Henry Kissinger

Creative novelty springs largely from the rearrangement of the existing knowledge, a rearrangement that is itself an addition to knowledge.

J. Kneller

The map is not the territory.

Alfred Korzbyski

An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.

Dr. Edwin Land

In creating, the only hard thing's to begin; a grass-blade's no easier to make than an oak.

James Lowell

A man to carry on a successful business must have imagination. He must see things in a vision, a dream of the whole thing.

Charles M. Schwab

It seems that the creative faculty and the critical faculty cannot exist together in their highest perfection.

Thomas Macaulay

A person who can create ideas worthy of note is a person who has learned much from others.

Konosuke Matsushita

We are apt to think that our ideas are the creation of our own wisdom but the truth is that they are the result of the experience through outside contact.

Konosuke Matsushita

Life changes when we change.

Andrew Matthews

Imagination grows by exercise, and contrary to common belief, is more powerful in the mature than in the young.

W. Somerset Maugham

I used to think anyone doing anything weird was weird. Now I know that it is the people that call others weird that are weird.

Paul McCartney

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it's the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead

The obvious is always least understood.

Prince Metternich

Focus should be to encourage and develop creativity in all children without the ultimate goal being to make all children inventors, but rather to develop a future generation of critical thinkers.

Faraq Mousa

To be a man of knowledge one needs to be light and fluid.

Yaqui Mystic

If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.

Isaac Newton

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.

Robert Olson

It is easier to tone down a wild idea than to think up a new one.

Alex Osborne

Change only favours minds that are diligently looking and preparing for discovery.

Louie Pasteur

The best way to get a good idea is to get a lot of ideas.

Linus Pauling

The only joy in the world is to begin.

Cesare Pavese

Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.

Pablo Picasso

Even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just stand there.

Will Rogers

Inspiration could be called inhaling the memory of an act never experienced.

Ned Rorem

We would like to believe that we are not in the business of surviving but in being good, and we do not like to admit to ourselves that we are good in order to survive.

Dorothy Rowe

That human mind is like a parachute - it functions better when it is open.

Cole's Rules

Children reinvent your world for you. Susan Sarandon

Neccesity is the mother of invention, it is true - but it's father is creativity, and knowledge is the midwife.

Jonathan Schattke

Few people think more than two or three times a year. I've made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week.

George Bernard Shaw

Imagination is the beginning of creation.

George Bernard Shaw

Musical comedies aren't written, they are re-written.

Stephen Sondheim

The life of the creative man is lead, directed and controlled by boredom. Avoiding boredom is one of our most important purposes.

Saul Steinberg

There are no foolish questions and no man becomes a fool until he has stopped asking questions.

Saul Steinberg

Every exit is an entry somewhere else.

Tom Stoppard

I have learned throughout my life as a composer chiefly through my mistakes and pursuits of false assumptions, not by my exposure to founts of wisdom and knowledge.

Igor Stravinsky

You think that because you understand ONE you understand TWO, because one and one makes two. But you must understand AND.

Sufi proverb

In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's mind there are few.

Shunryu Suzuki

To do two things at once is to do neither.

Publilius Syrus

Dicovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.

Albert Szent-Gyorgyl

Creativity consists of coming up with many ideas, not just that one great idea.

Charles Thompson

The world is but a canvas to our imaginations.

Henry Thoreau

Our life is frittered away by detail ... Simplify, Simplify.

Henry Thoreau

Natural resources have dropped out of the competitive equation. In fact, a lack of natural resources may even be an advantage. Because the industries we are competing for - the industries of the future - are all based on brainpower.

Lester Thurow

Change is not merely necessary to life - it is life.

Alvin Toffler

The man with a new idea is a crank - until the idea succeeds.

Mark Twain

Originality is nothing but judicious imitation.


Attachment is the great fabricator of illusions; reality can be attained only by someone who is detached.

Andrei Voznesensky

The art of creation is older than the art of killing.

Andrei Voznesensky

Don't confuse being stimulating with being blunt. Barbara Walters

Problems and solutions nest within a complex array of related systems and problems.

Bob Weile

I am a writer who came from a sheltered life. A sheltered life can be daring as well. For all serious daring starts from within.

Eudora Welty

We think in generalities, but we live in detail.

Alfred Whitehead

Be not afraid of moving slowly, be afraid of standing still. A Chinese Proverb

The mere formulation of a problem is far more often essential than its solution, which may be merely a matter of mathematical or experimental skill. To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle requires creative imagination and marks real advances in science.

Albert Einstein

A hunch is creativity trying to tell you something.


All you ever needed to know you learn in kindergarten.


An idea can turn to dust or magic, depending on the talent that rubs against it.


Be master of mind rather than mastered by mind.


Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by the age of eighteen.


Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.


Doodling is the brooding of the mind.


Every really new idea looks crazy at first.


Genius, in truth, means little more than the faculty of perceiving in an unhabitual way.


Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.

Albert Enstein

Half the game is 90 percent mental.


Hindsight is always 20:20


How many people know how to use a computer on their desk but don't know how to use the computer in their head?


How many people use the latest software on their desk computer yet don't know about the latest software for the computer in their head?


I must create a system or be enslaved by another man's. I will not reason and compare; My business is to create.


If a concept is wrong, no number of ideas will put it right.


Imagination is better than memory.


In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.


Martin Luther king said "I have a dream", not "I have a plan".


Sense is not common.


Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself.


The "silly question" is the first intimation of some totally new development.


The more you think, the more time you have.


The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.


To err is human but to really foul things up requires a computer.


We do not see the world as it is, we see it as we are.

Humberto Maturan

Well begun is half done.

"Mary Poppins" the movie by reelclassics.com

We solve problems to make money. And that's it. As long as we always act within the law, we don't lose points for adapting other people's ideas.


Knowledge is created by the learner, not given by the teacher.


The balance between benefits and defects is much more easily improved by removing defects than increasing benefits.


Man is the only animal that can get bored.


There is never time to do it right the first time, but there is always time to do it again.


I cannot throw a ball as long as I am holding it in a way as to maintain perfect control of its movement.


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