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You only have to look at the Nokia Lumia 920 to see how far smartphone technology has come in just a couple of decades. Jam packed with revolutionary innovations, it’s the culmination of hundreds of ingenious ideas made real. But what about the people who had these moments of inspiration? Ever wondered what qualities they have and whether you share them?

Child’s play – Where it all begins  

Were you a restless, curious child? Asking endless questions. Did you have a particular passion? Or did you see things in a different way to other people? Tom Sims was only thirteen when he made a board from plywood at school. He called it his skiboard – a ‘skateboard for the snow.’  The creator of snowboards made the sport his life, from a simple obsession. Children who later invent, think differently – a crane is a dinosaur, a box is never just a box. Don’t ever let anyone label you eccentric.

Who are your heroes?

If it’s Becks then it might not be inventive people who float your boat. But if you admire entrepreneurs like James Dyson, there could be an urge within you to emulate their success, a hunger to be like him. Do you relate to some people’s ability to think outside the box? Maybe you don’t realise that you too are a lateral thinker. People like James Dyson were determined. Are you? Did Dyson listen when he was told ‘But, James, if there were a better kind of vacuum cleaner, Hoover or Electrolux would have invented it.’ I don’t think so.

Do you have a unique way of looking at the world 

As an adult, do you still ‘play’? Species like the dolphin, considered extremely intelligent, spend much of their day playing. But it can pay. Inventor Rod Sprules one night experimented with dried coffee grounds and wax, then pushed the mixture into an old cigar tube. He then burned it and the Java-Log was born, a cleaner fuel product that recycles waste coffee. Picasso – who co-created cubism, was constantly adapting, learning. ‘If I don’t have red, I use blue,’ he once said. That should be your mantra.

Are you a scribbler or a dreamer or both? 

Dreaming is underrated. Too many people allow themselves to let the world entertain them. But inventors are restless souls, bubbling over with ideas that they struggle to contain. If you are a passive inventor you may just dream and imagine your ideas – but if you are more dynamic, your doodles may be worth more than you think. Leonardo da Vinci was a classic doodler and his drawings show planes and submarines – to be invented centuries later. He also never finished anything on time and was easily distracted. Genuises don’t think in straight lines. Do you?

Any of this sound familiar? Then perhaps you’ve got what it takes to join this rare breed of men and women. And if you’ve already come up with a great idea, we’d love to hear your secret to inventive thinking.

Image credits: Saad Faruque + Alexindigo + nobihaya + recuerdos de pandora