A dose of creativity stimulation
to ignite fresh thinking
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
This probing question is not just for youngsters. In our Creative Thinking Workshops, we hear people in their 30s, 50s or even 70s ask themselves the same question. A sense of stuckness leaves a yearning for more responsibility, new scenery, a new role, a side hustle, or a different career altogether.
They are asking,
“How can I use my creative thinking to design a life where I can thrive at any age?”
I too asked myself this question several years ago as I contemplated a transition out of a long and fulfilling career as a professional architect. I had spent two and a half decades studying and practicing architecture. It had been a satisfying journey but I was ready for a change.
Could my training and experience in design thinking help me craft a new path? Can life can be approached like an architectural design problem?
The answer was a definitive 'yes.'
I found many of the practices and principles I learned as...
Last week I stepped out of my comfort zone by attending a fashion show at the Norval Foundation Art Museum in Cape Town. I have never been a fashionista (sadly somewhat of the opposite!), but when I entered the show and drank in the atmosphere filled with anticipation and a sense of glamour, I felt swept up in the excitement. As the lights dimmed and the music began, the audience gave a collective gasp at the exquisite models sauntering down the runway wearing magnificent creations by South African designer Kat Van Duinen.
The experience was exhilarating and encouraged me to delve a little deeper into the world of fashion. Here are some of the fascinating characters that I “met” during my explorations and three lessons they teach us that will boost our creativity.
Designer Kat Van Duinen, whose stunning work we enjoyed at the fashion show, explains that when she started her career she often felt very self-conscious about the clothes she...
When I first heard the title of the book, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, it immediately resonated with me. Perhaps it has already captivated you as well. This year I feel that I am moving a little too fast. How can it be April already? So much has happened so far this year and everyone I speak to seems to be operating like a person with their clothes on fire.
I think this gif captures the mood of the year so far very well.
A potential client said recently: "We just don’t have time to be creative."
I thought: "You don’t have time not to!"
Hurrying is a state of mind. It is that foreboding sense that your huge to-do list is towering over you, casting a cartoonish monster shadow over your day. Everything must be done quick, quick, quick. Even as you are doing a task, you are thinking about the next task to be done. As a big-city dweller, I pick up this same sense of urgency from the people around me. I imagine it is the same in most big cities.
If you want to direct your life on a path of continual positive change, then you need to tap into the most powerful force for change in the universe. Fortunately for you, that force is always with you, ready to lend a hand if you just ask. That force is time. Time is the force that magnifies those simple daily disciplines into massive success. There is a natural progression to success: plant, cultivate, harvest—and the central step, cultivate, can only happen over the long run.
Most of us don’t notice the impact of tiny things that we do every day. When it comes to change and growth, we want to see big, visible signs of improvement. We want to see our savings grow, our skills improve, or our race times shorten. We can’t always perceive (and therefore don’t value) the tiny, daily signs of change. This is where bad habits creep in. It’s easy to do the bad habit. It seems insignificant. Whether I do it or not, I don’t see the impact straight...
Theodor Seuss Geisel wanted to make reading fun. The children’s books of his time were mind-numbingly ordinary “Dick and Jane” type books. Dick and Jane were two sensible children who did predictable things and always obeyed the rules.
Geisel had other ideas for children’s books, weird ideas. He thought up strange characters doing odd things. He concocted unusual poetic meters and bizarre artwork.
In 1957 he wrote The Cat in the Hat under the name Dr. Seuss (pronounced ‘Zoyce’ like voice – yes, really). The book was rejected by several publishers for being too unconventional. His work was too weird! But when he eventually found a publisher, the book was an instant success. Children loved this strange cat who turns a cold, wet day into a day of fun and mischief. The Cat in the Hat is still one of my favourite books. It’s hard to believe that it was published in the 50s, it still feels so fresh and contemporary.
Ever feel like December is rushing up at you like a crazed reindeer with a firecracker in its antlers?
I will never get used to Christmas decorations appearing in shops literally the day after Halloween. One day your grocery shop is watched over by cobwebbed skeletons and menacing pumpkins and the next day you’ve got smiling Santas and rosy-cheeked elves beaming down at you from the rafters.
Meantime, your brain hasn’t quite accepted that September is over yet, and you have literally 4,358 things to before you take your year-end break. Which is now… next month. In addition to getting all this work done, you need to assist your kids with their exam preparation and/or attend a myriad of year-end activities, plus finish off all that admin that you really don’t want to drag into a new year.
Ironically, when you need your energy and focus the most, it can be at its lowest ebb. You’ve got your foot flat on the pedal, but your energy tank is blinking empty,...
I recently rewatched the thought-provoking 1989 hit movie, Dead Poets Society.
Remember, that iconic film? Robin Williams plays John Keating, an unconventional English teacher, who inspires his class of boys at an elite conservative school to be courageous freethinkers who seize the day.
While watching the film, it dawned on me how much it influenced my thinking. I can now see some of the fruit grown from the seeds of ideas planted all those decades ago.
Take a trip down memory lane with me and be reminded of these powerful lessons from the memorable character, Mr Keating. (If you’ve not seen the film yet, what are you waiting for?)
“You must strive to find your own voice because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are going to find it all.”
Like all creative thinkers, Mr Keating celebrates the diversity and uniqueness of each of his students. Right from the start he encourages...
I have been loving the Netflix series, Abstract – The Art of Design.
If you’ve got a Netflix account, I highly recommend this series for inspiring expansive thinking and exploring new fields and perspectives (especially if your background is in the field of management and finance like mine!) It has done wonders for ‘filling up my creative tank.’ The series invites you to ‘step inside the minds of the most innovative designers in a variety of disciplines and learn how design impacts every aspect of life.’
One particular designer in the series really blew me away and it’s what I learned from this person that I want to share with you today. She is such an inspirational person, that one of the engineers in her team said of her:
“One conversation with her changed the course of my career.”
The engineer had been on a path to becoming an architect but after one...
Three years into the US war with Vietnam, the US had suffered terrible losses of pilots and fighter planes. 644 pilots were killed, missing, or taken as prisoners of war. They had also lost 532 aircraft in combat.
In 1968, 33-year old lieutenant commander Dan Pedersen was assigned to create a new fighter school at the Navy's Miramar Air Station near San Diego to help stop the loss of all these pilots and planes. An extensive study, called the Ault Report, was done into the reasons for the losses. The report showed that were problems with the aircraft missile systems and that the pilots were not following the rigorous technical specs for the missiles. In essence, the pilots were not following the rules. The directive given to the young lieutenant was he needed to enforce the rules and teach the pilots to be more disciplined and stick to textbook laws of tactics.
When the young Lieutenant Pedersen took over, he applied more expansive, creative thinking. When he examined the report, he...
'Am I creative?' you may be asking? I’ll answer that with another question: ‘Are you human?’ If your answer is ‘yes’, then my response to you is, ‘Well then, you are creative.’
If you don't feel particularly creative, don't fear. You are not alone. Studies show that as we get older, discipline, the pressures of life, fears and societal norms tend to make us ask fewer questions, laugh less, and display less creativity than we were as young children. In fact, our education system has historically favored knowledge and critical thinking over imagination and creative thinking to serve businesses in the industrial age. Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk “Do schools kill creativity?” is the most watched TED talk of all time. It has been viewed over 70 million times. The subject of creativity in education is clearly of interest to a great number of people.
Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk...
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