Some want to have their knowledge take on a life of its own, and come up with new ideas.
This creative point happens when you understand your fundamentals.
Listen to 100 videos by Gary Vaynerchuk, whom hits the fundamentals over and over in different ways, and when you listen to next one, there’s a good chance his new idea in that video is one you’ve already thought of.
Richard Feynman, noble prize winning physicist, kept coming up with new ideas but would then discover someone else had already done it. He kept reading books of increasing difficulty, one of those books was Paul Dirac‘s book on Quantum Electrodynamics, and the end paragraph said, “Some new ideas are here needed.” At this point Feynman began to be credited with new ideas since the ideas he created hadn’t been previously discovered.
Feynman could have learned all the ultimate theories and sped through like most people. But he would have gotten to Dirac’s end paragraph and realize he has no ideas of his own if he didn’t spend excessive time understanding fundamentals. He jumped back and forth from the understanding fundamentals more deeply and then to the latest applications / theories.
Learning 1000 cooking recipes is harder than simply understanding the interactions and taste of 20 ingredients and creating 1000 recipes yourself instead.
One guy wanted to compose his own tunes, refused to learn other’s songs, nor take lessons on playing, because he didn’t want to stifle his creative process by putting him into a narrow track.
This is not how creativity is born – he composed nothing.
The best way to have creative freedom is to understand your fundamentals so well it is applicable in other fields. A fitness trainer that understands a bicep curl that goes deeper into the biology of muscles, the chemistry of proteins, and the physics of torque, will start to understand and be able to come up with their own workout routine better than someone that just studies a “concentration curl” and “hammer curl.”
A lot of people want to get through the fundamentals to get to the ‘real world stuff’ but instead we should try to go in reverse, getting more and more fundamental, and also exercise the idea of how different fields all can, on a deep level, fundamentally tie into one another.
How to teach fundamentals the fastest:
Sometimes, you get educators that understand the value of fundamentals and bog people down in theory for years before getting to the practice part. However, people learn best by repeatedly understanding a fundamental theory, seeing the resultant theory in practice, then go back to the fundamentals, and rinse & repeat that process.
If you’re already creative, consider what fundamental things you learned that make a creative tipping point for you to focus on learning those elements even better.
If you’re not creative, consider how your field relates to all other fields in some way – if they seem unrelated, you’re not seeing at least some of the fundamentals yet, and you need to focus on that.