08/04/2010 09:23 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Necessity Is the Mother of Invention

As I do research for my new book, The Skinny on Creativity, I reach certain conclusions. One conclusion is that people will be as creative as they need to be. In other words, when pressed, people can be very creative.

By way of testing my various hypotheses, I made a list of famous creative people -- in this case the 10 most creative women I can think of:

Mary Kay Ash -- started Mary Kay Cosmetics (direct sales business)
Jane Fonda -- kicked off the personal workout craze
Madonna -- no explanation needed
Ayn Rand -- author of Atlas Shrugged
Anita Roddick -- creator of The Body Shop (natural cosmetics)
J.K. Rowling -- invented Harry Potter
Martha Stewart -- no explanation necessary
Lillian Vernon -- started the mail-order catalogue business
Dr. Ruth Westheimer -- sex education and entertainment
Oprah Winfrey -- no explanation needed

And then I did research on each woman, trying to figure out what might have triggered her amazing creativity. Here is what I learned about each:

Mary Kay Ash -- single mother raising 3 children
Jane Fonda -- mother committed suicide when Jane was 12
Madonna -- mother died when Madonna was 5
Ayn Rand -- fled Russian oppression
Anita Roddick -- born in a born in a bomb shelter during WWII
J.K. Rowling -- single mom living on welfare
Martha Stewart -- raised in Nutley, New Jersey
Lillian Vernon -- fled Germany just before WWII
Dr. Ruth Westheimer -- parents killed in the Holocaust
Oprah Winfrey -- raped as a teenager, gave birth to stillborn

In other words, each of these famous women had to deal with some serious adversity. And each rose to the occasion -- finding an inner strength to elevate her life with creative thinking and expression.

The lesson for all of us? Creativity is not handed out to some and not others. We all have the ability to think creatively. But, you may need to challenge yourself to find out just how creative you can be.

Jim Randel is the Founder of The Skinny On™ book series. See