Inventiveness and Enterprise go hand-in-hand, yet they are not the same. Enterprise focuses on the personality trait of wanting to take on new challenges, while inventiveness is more about finding creative ways to overcome or meet those challenges. People without these values can probably keep a job with success, but those who can build and excel in these qualities will become very capable in the business world. If they're talent in one is much greater than the other, this can lead into problems! Imagine a person who takes on a lot of challenges, but can't invent the solutions to meet them. And with less chance of total disaster but still perhaps even more depressing is the inventive person who never feels capable of challenging him or herself. The good thing is that these qualities go hand-in-hand so well that working on one often improves the other simultaneously.

In the article about enterprise, I stressed that one should take on new challenges in their personal life. This is a great testing ground for inventiveness too, although maybe a little more care should be taken on which activities you choose if this is the virtue you decide to tackle. While learning Judo will challenge you and give you new perspectives on overcoming challenges, if all of your personal growth was involved with sport or martial-art activities then you would come to a point where your inventiveness wouldn't be improved much by your actions. Use the activities below to help you choose a variety of activities that challenge your creativity.

It is also important to note that while it is possible to grow a new sense of inventiveness that wasn't there before, it is much more difficult than practicing the skills you currently use. While you should work on nurturing your sense of inventiveness you also should be looking at rising up to meet challenges in your everyday life with more creative power. There is probably a better way to do a lot of what you've grown accustomed to doing, but you never made it a priority to give these routines much thought. Begin doing that now! If you are assigned at work to write for your coworkers or to other businesses, read up on business writing and actively try to improve your usual work. If you have a repetitive task that you loathe doing, try to find some ways to make it less of a pain—this is similar to what was suggested in the article about efficiency; it takes inventiveness to save time and cut costs. Look for opportunities in your personal life as well, whether this be what to do on date night or which movie you're going to enjoy. There are many avenues to exercise your inventiveness in little ways every day.

While you are working on this trait, you might want to work on the virtue Intelligence as well. Intelligence is about educating yourself in areas that are applicable in your life (and sometimes less so), and improving your knowledge, skills, and possibly wisdom. Reading, practice with new skills, and classes will improve your inventiveness as well as your intelligence as you begin to have more raw material at your disposal.

Down below are some activities that might help you, well, find inventive activities you can try out or otherwise improve this character trait:


  • Take on a New Hobby: Preferably one you usually wouldn't consider. Trying out new things challenges our minds and forces us to use mental muscles that we probably tend to avoid.
  • Take Opportunities to Do Things Well: You might not always be expected to do something amazing, but try to find little ways you can stretch yourself by coming up with new or creative ways to do usually banal tasks. This could be anything from writing company newsletters to a couple's date night.
  • Take a Class: Learning is always a good way to sharpen your mind, and it doesn't have to be painful in order to be good for you! Find a topic you will enjoy—something creative if you can manage it—and take a class on that subject. Depending on the subject, you might even be working with other students on occasion with collaborative projects!
  • Learn Brainstorming Techniques: Or other idea-grabbing activities and use them. This helps you think inventively and can often work better than just trying to pull ideas from thin air. When you practice this technique, you brain will be better organized and exercised for spontaneous thinking as well!
  • Work on Enterprise and Intelligence: Either of these virtues will strengthen the periphery skills and talents that will apply to being more inventive.

Your Record

If you miss an opportunity to do something in a creative way, whether to just "get it over with" or to focus on something else—unless you absolutely couldn't divert any time toward it—then mark yourself at "fault". This virtue requires personal effort in order to achieve real growth, so make new goals using ideas from above or from your own inventiveness and mark yourself at fault based on your goals. If you are not focusing on this trait, you will have to judge yourself the best you can.


Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.

Steve Jobs, American Co-Founder of Apple

Inventive genius requires pleasurable mental activity as a condition for its vigorous exercise.

Alfred North Whitehead, British Philosopher and Mathematician

The principle goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done - men who are creative, inventive and discoverers.

Jean Piaget, Swiss Psychologist Known For Her Studies in Child Intelligence

Golden Mean

Uninventiveness, unimaginativeness
Excessive inventiveness, persistent tendency to reinvent the wheel

Recommended Reading

Cracking Creativity: The Secrets of Creative Genius — by Michael Michalko

The author studies the creative geniuses of history's greats and has come up with some ideas that will help you tap into your own creative genius using their techniques. This book has a focus on the business end of creativity.

Creativity Workout: 62 Exercises to Unlock Your Most Creative Ideas — by Edward De Bono

This book has 62 different activities that will help you give those mental-muscles a workout.

General Rules

Practice virtues daily so that they become ‘habits of the heart’.

Don‘t strive for perfection.

Never give up! Remember: even the greats have off days.

Rely on your intuition.

Avoid extremes. Strive to achieve the golden mean between excess and deficiency of a virtue.

Have fun and enjoy the program with humor and optimism.

Man is a shrewd inventor, and is ever taking the hint of a new machine from his own structure, adapting some secret of his own anatomy in iron, wood, and leather, to some required function in the work of the world. Ralph Waldo Emerson