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There has been a lot talk about the out-of-the-box mindset of younger employees unlocking innovation, but as it turns out you may experience your major creative breakthrough a bit later in life.
Research by the National Bureau of Economic Research found great inventors and Nobel-prize winning scientists had at least one thing in common – the high points and defining moments of their careers took place in their late 30s.
“This research consistently finds that performance peaks in middle age: the life-cycle begins with a training period in which major creative output is absent, followed by a rapid rise in output to a peak, often in the late 30s or 40s, and a subsequent slow decline in output through later years,” the report said.
One reason behind this trend was the long periods of education and learning, including both in institutions as well as on the job.
The report also found those who tend to be more theoretical peaked earlier than their experimental peers.
“The most important conceptual work typically involve radical departures from existing paradigms, and the ability to identify and appreciate these radical departures may be greatest shortly after initial exposure to a paradigm, before it has been fully assimilated,” the study’s authors wrote.
In other words, those who are more inclined towards coming up with new ideas were also the ones who didn’t have to wait for the results of their experiments and, despite being early in their careers, learned enough to identify gaps or look at a task from a different perspective than older professionals in their field.