While professionals agree on the importance of creativity for individual career success and global economic growth, a Kenyan teen's innovative thinking helps preserve the lives of an endangered species.

Lions hold a special place in the hearts of all of us in the Saint Leo University community.

Which is one reason why you might find the following story intriguing.

Originally appearing on the NPR blog, "all tech considered," it's about a teenager in Kenya with a truly "bright" idea. The eight-minute video is posted below and is inspiring to watch.

Here's why.

Human-lion conflict.

In the 1940s, nearly half a million lions roamed Africa and Asia. Today fewer than 20,000 remain with their numbers still declining. In Kenya, where lions are essential to the tourism industry, the country boasted 15,000 lions ten years ago. Today their demise has reached crisis proportions with fewer than 2,000 left.

The reason, as you may well guess, is the conflict between humans and lions. Wherever people and lions share habitats, lions are being killed. That's because lions are killing families' most valuable assets: their livestock.

Creativity makes dreams possible.

Since he was six years old, Richard Turere, a Maasai from Kenya, had been tending his father's cattle. He came to despise lions passionately labeling them his "enemy."

Never would he have dreamed that he would be someone who saved lions.

But he did. And you'll have to watch the video to learn about his invention.

As a result of his idea's success, he is implementing his simple, practical and creative solution that saves the lives of both lions and cows throughout his community. His idea has spread to India, Zambia and Tanzania. He shared his story last month with an enthusiastic audience at TED in Long Beach, Calif.

And perhaps the most significant consequence to Richard, personally, is that his creativity caught the attention of the administration of one of Nairobi's top schools earning him a full scholarship and placing him on the path to fulfill his dream of becoming an aircraft engineer – a dream he would ponder while tending cattle and watching airplanes soar past over his head.

Creativity is key to career success.

In addition to being an inspiring story about the difference one person can make, Richard's story exemplifies the critical need our world, economies, communities and businesses have for creativity.

It's also imperative for career success.

A study commissioned by Adobe and produced by research firm Edelman Berland last year surveyed 1,000 Americans, ages 25 and above who are college-educated and full-time-salaried employees. Called Creativity and Education: Why it Matters, the study's findings make it abundantly clear that current professionals believe creativity is vital to driving the global economy and to individual career success.

In fact, respondents said creativity is one of the top three personality traits most important to career success (20%) surpassed only slightly by intelligence (24%) and personability (21%).

Some additional findings include:

  • Creativity is valuable to society: 96%

  • Creative thinking is important to be successful: 89%

  • Creativity is required for economic growth: 89%

  • Creative thinking is critical for problem solving in their careers: 85%

  • Creativity is important to their current career: 78%

Not the "creative type"? You can be.

In addition to shedding new light on the role of creativity in career success, the study reflected the growing belief that creativity is not just a personality trait, but a learned skill.

Sixty-eight percent of those surveyed believe creativity is a skill that can be learned.

Consider Thomas Edison's familiar quote: "Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration."

Couldn't the same formula apply to creativity? "Creativity is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration."

Most professionals associate creative thinking with thinking out of the box or the ability to come up with innovative ideas, which sounds more like hard work and perspiration than inspiration from invisible muses.

Perspiration combined with a lack of inhibition to try something new.

Like adapting light to save the lives of lions.

From the Saint Leo Lions, "Way to go, Richard!"

Do you think creativity is something you are born with or can learn?

Image Credit:
tambako on Flickr/Creative Commons

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