Okay two days ago, we took your Creativity IQ. Yesterday we looked at how the education system is programming kids to be poor. We looked at the link between creativity and success. Now let’s look at some ways to recapture that creative genius your were born with, and exercise your creative brain cells to grow them even stronger…
One of the first things you can do is to stop classifying your brain into left/right, or logical/creative sides. (And stop categorizing yourself in one category or the other.) These beliefs about the two different sides of brain function come from research done with accident or stroke victims who have lost use of parts of their brain.
The optimum state for you is what scientists call “whole-brain functioning,” where you have thoughts going back and forth, creating neural pathways between the right and left hemispheres of your brain.
This synchronicity between the two halves of your brain dramatically improves your creative powers, not to mention your learning ability, memory and intuition. It is believed this increased communication between the two hemispheres of the brain is what separates geniuses like Einstein, Edison and Mozart from the average person.
Personally I believe that this opens the seven key energy centers in your body (Chakras)—giving you more energy, mental agility and creativity. Once you pry open this rusted gate between the two halves of your brain, you start to experience:
• Increased mental clarity;
• Greater creativity;
• Improved learning ability; and,
• Gains in intelligence.
Three things are necessary to foster creative genius. Experience, some form of a capturing system, and taking action. Let’s look at them.
The experiences you go through are the stimulation that jump starts your creativity. Think why most people aren’t creative. They do the same thing, day after day. They work in the same dead-end job for years, eat at the same restaurants, order the same entrée, and often even vacation at the same place every year. They have a standardized, limited spectrum of experiences.
Creative people travel, learn new languages, study other cultures, and meet many different people. Their lives are a kaleidoscope of many interesting and different experiences. Because each day offers new experiences, they don’t have neural pathway ruts form in their brain. They aren’t so susceptible to fall into “existence mode” and are much more likely to attain a self-actualized state.
The other thing that creative people do is to capture their experiences and internalize them. That’s why so many creative people are speakers, writers, musicians, or actors.
I’ve been playing the Purple Rain album by Prince a lot lately. Every time I listen, I marvel at his musical genius. He simply makes music unlike anyone else in the world. He writes intriguing lyrics, and attacks the music with a sensual, kinetic energy like no one before or since.
Actors like Pacino, Nicholson and Denzel Washington lose themselves in a role. They are subconsciously capturing the emotion of the situation they are acting out. Only they aren’t acting anymore, they are living in the role. A creative writing genius like Hemingway captured the ethos, emotion and physical context of the situations he wrote about.
It’s important that you too, also have a way for capturing things, in order to foster your own creative genius. That’s where taking action comes into play. Imagination by itself is not creativity. Creativity requires that you actually do something with what you’re daydreaming about – writing that novel, composing that opera or writing that song.
The human brain is one of the finest computers ever designed. A true super computer, its speed, ability to sort information, and the size of its hard drive are beyond our understanding. Yet most people only use a fraction of their potential.
Here are a few techniques you can use now to solve problems more creatively, and then in the next post we’ll explore some simple exercises designed to take you out of the comfort of your routines, thereby forcing your brain to make new neural pathways. Once stretched, you will grow in your capacity and willingness to think creatively. (I’d like to acknowledge my friend Ford Saeks, who helped me with many suggestions for this post.)
One of the all-time greatest techniques for getting creative juices flowing and really thinking off the chain is mind mapping. This is a process that is inherently creative by its nature. Instead of thinking laterally, which is the way most people approach an idea—you are exploring the idea and expanding it in many different directions without a logical pattern. This allows you to come up with new and fresh perspectives that you couldn’t otherwise. Here are some suggestions for mind mapping:
Use Association—Use lines, arrows, colors, and codes to indicate relationships and connections between ideas.
Use Emphasis—Start with a central image or word to focus the eye and brain, and trigger associations. Use images, colors, dimension, and size to reflect relative importance.
Be Clear—Print key words, with only one word on a line.
Create Your Own Style—These are guidelines not rules. Discover what works best for you.
The SCAMPER technique...
This was first developed by Bob Eberle and Alex Osborne to develop more creativity in the workplace. It’s a helpful technique for viewing solutions to a challenge. SCAMPER is an acronym for the seven different ways you can view an idea. This process may seem silly or crazy, but it’s the kind of technique that lets bold, daring and imaginative ideas come forth.
Remember, creativity is like a muscle; it can be strengthened with exercise.
S – Substitute
C – Combine
A – Adapt
M – Modify
P – Put to Other Uses
E – Eliminate
R – Reverse/Rearrange
An example of SCAMPER using an umbrella:
Substitute: Use a plastic bag stretched over a wire coat hangar.
Combine: Add a radio and digital clock to the handle.
Adapt: Make it useful for joggers by attaching it to the body.
Modify: Make it big enough to cover several people at once.
Put to Other Uses: Use the tip for making holes or picking up scrap paper.
Eliminate: Take away the metal spokes that are always bending.
Reverse: Have the umbrella fold up instead of down to catch the water.
I’ve mentioned already that all creative geniuses have some method for capturing and internalizing experiences. Just having varied experiences is not enough. You must capture them, so you can receive nourishment from them.
Practice Idea Capturing...
• Brilliant Idea Journal
• Project Journal
• Life Journal
• Record your ideas on audio or video
• Idea Capture File
A great question to stimulate creative thinking is asking questions. The kinds of questions you want to ask are “what if/possibility” questions like:
Another useful technique is to use analogy thinking...
That is where you take an existing situation and apply it in a totally different context. For example, I once took the concept of a radio commercial promoting a radio station, and applied it in a display ad for a beauty salon. Often times you can take a practice that is used in the oil exploration business and apply it in the healthcare industry. Or vice versa.
Looking at what happens in totally unrelated situations can often provide brilliant insight and inspiration into the situation you are working on. Make an analogy to another business or situation, look at their solutions, and then discover new ideas about your own situation.
One of the best and most creative ways to approach any situation needing innovation or creative thinking is to think like a five-year-old. That is the point in most people’s lives when they were at their peak creative state, before it was drummed out of them. A child at that age doesn’t concern himself with government regulations, social etiquette, or accepted practices. He just focuses on what he wants to accomplish, and how that can be done. They have a sense of wonder about the entire world. Elevators are magic. Escalators are simply amazing. And airplanes are a thing of beauty.
An Attitude of Wonder...
Tap into your Wonder Quotient. When was the last time you spent a day being truly amazed by most of the things you encountered? Yes the Panama Canal, Great Wall of China and the Pyramids are breathtaking. But do you have a clue how astounding a can opener is? Do you have any idea how amazing it is that a 747 can fly in the air? Do you realize how astonishing elevators are? Visit a museum, library or theme park. Look for the wonder everywhere.
Propose the wildest, most outrageous and preposterous things you can imagine. They do not have to be practical, possible or even sensible. You use true escapism where there are no morals, rules, etiquette, laws or standards. You escape the physical limitations of the world to see what your ultimate solution would be.
Once you have done this, and only when you have finished, should you look back at the ideas you have generated. Then you should look for ways in which all or part of these ideas could be made practical. Think of the benefits you could gain by using the idea and work out how you can achieve the same thing in reality. How could you modify the suggested solution to make it work? What changes in the world would you need to make the idea possible and how can you make those changes happen?
Let’s summarize some important creativity concepts…
• Everyone, you included, is naturally creative and are not subject to any required personality or intelligence limitations;
• Your creative spirit grows by using your curiosity;
• You can tap into your creativity by expanding your comfort zone;
• Make creative thinking and idea generation a separate process from evaluation;
• Identify and check your premises about a problem or situation;
• Break away from your customary ways thinking about a problem or issue;
• Adopt new, unique, and different perspectives on a situation;
• Remove creativity blocks and negative thinking; think in possibilities!
Recommended Resource: The Element by Ken Richardson. Ph.D. A brilliant look at passion that has many great lessons for creativity.
So what do you think? Was this helpful for you? Any things you do differently? Please share your thoughts below, and next post I’ll give you some creativity boosting exercises you can do.
It’s nighttime here in Sydney as I post this. In the morning I’ll be heading back to the States, and traveling most of the day. I’ll check in on the other side.