To develop the creative innocence that leads to increased creativity you need to try the following…
1. Have a questioning mind
A questioning mind arouses CURIOSITY, and curiosity can foster the desire to make new discoveries.
When Rembrandt’s famous painting—The Nightwatchman—was restored and returned to Amsterdam’s Rijks Museum, the curators performed a simple yet remarkable experiment. They asked visitors to submit questions about the painting. They then prepared answers, and placed the questions with the answers on the wall outside the room the painting was displayed in. They discovered that the average length of time that people spent viewing the painting increased from 6 minutes to 30 minutes. People reported that the questions encouraged them to look longer, look more closely and remember more.
How can questions produce such dramatic results? They can:
- give the mind something to aim for
- put the mind in a ready state to learn
- help the mind to focus
2: Embrace ambiguity
To be truly creative, you need to learn to embrace both extremes of an idea on a number of different dimensions at the same time. You need to be able to SYNTHESISE apparently incompatible opposites. Instead of choosing A or B, think of how it might be possible to have A and B…
- purpose and profit
- continuity and change
- freedom and responsibility
- strength and sensitivity
- brains and brawn
- driven and empathetic
The new leadership models are dynamic, not static. Good leaders must be able to consider all options before coming to a decision—which requires learning to accept and deal with both sides of a situation.
3: Allow your mind to wander
DIVERGENT THINKING is a major key to creativity. It is the ability to let your mind wander, and then to make mental connections between unrelated matters. By allowing your mind to wander, you are utilising your most powerful creative tool—your IMAGINATION. 98% of children aged 3-5 yrs old score at the top of the scale of divergent thinking, while only 2% of adults have this ability. We tend to lose this ability with formal education and acculturation… and yet this ability is what can help us to solve problems creatively.
4: Access both sides of the brain
The brain has two sides—left and right—both of which have very different functions.
In order to be truly creative, you must be able to access both sides of the brain and INTEGRATE these functions effectively.
The left side of the brain is:
- focused on small details
The right side of the brain is:
- focused on the big picture
It is only once both sides of the brain have been accessed and the information synthesized appropriately that it is possible to think creatively.
5: Take a different route
If you’re stuck in a rut… creating a worn path along the same tracks… you may need to take a different route. Our brains develop established neural networks from early in life—and we quickly develop set patterns for thinking based on our ongoing experiences.
To learn to be able to think creatively, you need to deliberately take yourself off those set tracks, and explore new pathways… perhaps taking unusual routes that may have not been explored before. That can be uncomfortable. It might mean breaking some old habits. But it can also be a positive and liberating experience.
6: Be optimistic
Keep believing that all things are possible… and don’t give up. Because it is only through a POSITIVE OPTIMSIM that you can maintain the enthusiasm to keep trying new ideas without giving up.
We become paralysed by pessimism. While pessimists transform setbacks into disasters, optimists are able to see new possibilities. They are able to use these setbacks as learning experiences… to pick themselves up and try again with a renewed determination.
We become empowered by optimism. Practice using language that allows for ongoing possibilities and unlimited potential.
Once you have developed the right ATTITUDE, and have explored a positive APPROACH…
Then you are ready to take ACTION. Taking action involves:
- considering all options
- looking at all angles
- finding parallels
To consider all options, you need to take the time needed to open yourself up to all possibilities. The first idea you have may provide the quickest solution, but it is not
necessarily the best. You must make sure you have considered all possible options before making any substantial decisions. Considering all options involves collecting ideas…
- gathering information
- exploring all possibilities
Looking at all angles means weighing up the relative merit of all ideas and considering the pros and cons of each of them. It involves analysing ideas…
- culling inappropriate suggestions
- measuring risk and return
- considering the chances of success
- looking at the consequences of failure
To draw effective parallels, you need to learn to find how the new ideas you have come up with connect with the issues that need to be dealt with. It will often require disassembling whatever ideas have already been constructed, and attempting to reassemble them in different ways. It may mean looking past the obvious into the unexpected. Drawing effective parallels involves assimilating ideas…
This is when the rubber hits the road, when the practical applications for creative solutions can be implemented and tested.
This is when you benefit from the creative process
Take the time to develop your creative skills.
Some people—those people who are able to access and integrate the right side of their brain more effectively—may seem to be more naturally creative , but it is possible for everyone to develop their creative side. In fact, research has shown that those who have lower scores in Divergent Thinking tests can still become more creative than those with higher scores if they regularly exercise the creative ability they have.
This is an adapted excerpt from the new pocketbook guide by Andrew and Gaia Grant ‘Creativity in a Bottle’. The booklet is a simple action guide that includes a number of different practical tips for developing creativity.
© Gaia Grant
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