The invention process is as much opaque as it is concrete — a person can identify a successful inventor through simply counting the number of inventions, or patents, developed by a single person. Yet, at the same time, it’s nearly impossible to define what being “inventive” actually entails. Many times, once an idea has been brought to life, the idea seems obvious. But actually coming up with that new idea was no perfect science, and only a determined few actually see it through to completion.

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So is inventive thinking something a person is born with, or is it a trait developed over time? When asked whether or not everyone has the ability to make “inventive” connections , 65 percent of survey respondents said they believe inventors were “special,” while just 35 percent though anyone could become one, according to a 2013 TIME poll. But whether or not that kind of “inventive” thinking can be learned is not as clear cut.

Because inventing is as much randomized as it is calculated, it’s easy to believe that inventiveness is not a universally shared skilled — after all, there are many more non-inventors in the world than there are inventors. The instrument with which an inventor is born, their brain, can vary from person to person when it comes to thinking creatively — but many question whether or not creative thinking trumps actual hard work. 

Inventor Jonas Salk, for example, is an ideal demonstration of how hard work may trump creativity in some instances of inventing. Salk invented the first successful polio vaccine, and his entire invention process, step by step, is contained in hundreds of file boxes at the University of California at San Diego, according to the school’s records. Each year and every experiment is detailed in his personal invention log, leading many to believe his invention was more a result of methodical grit and determination than bursts of creativity.

Many agree that inspiration, which generally serves as the impetus for ingenuity, can not be turned on at will, but there are some general guidelines that may help you improve the likelihood of experiencing an “ah-ha” moment:

Create Opportunities For New Thinking
If you’re waiting for the “perfect time” to explore an inventive idea, it will likely never happen. Continue to explore new experiences while not allowing your circumstances to hold you back.

Be Passionate, Stay Passionate
Healthcare innovation is challenging, and without a passion for innovation, it will be easy to feel defeated, discouraged and unmotivated to press on when inspiration and creativity is waning.

Look at a Problem from Multiple Angels
You may have the next big idea, but if you don’t know how your invention fits into the current market’s existing infrastructure, it will be useless. Think about an issue or problem from both the inside and out —  often times, people on the inside may not be able to see something that can be obvious to outsider.

Go into Unfamiliar Territory
When it comes to inventing, it’s easy to stick with what you already know. But crossing industry lines and venturing into unfamiliar territory can be an exciting and useful innovation tool. If you notice a gap needs filling in an area you know little about, don’t shy away from learning and exploring that need.