A dose of creativity stimulation

 to ignite fresh thinking

A curious case of the creeps

I generally don’t think about insects very much at all. I moan about mosquitos. I hate flies. I love butterflies and moths. Bees are my favourite. They rock. Paper mites give me the creeps. That’s about the extent of it.

Do you think about insects ? Are you curious about them?

I few months ago, I decided to cocoon my insect-related ignorance and apathy (defined "I don't know and I don't care") and to transform it through curiosity into wonder and delight. The impact was a fresh and hopeful perspective, newfound interest, and the widening of my world.

Do these outcomes  sound attractive to you?

Then read on, and by all means, please try this at home!


Before we get into my insect story, I want to make sure you're not thinking curiosity is just for astrophysicists or kids with lots of time on their hands. Here are three things you should know: 

1. Curiosity is a clear sign of intelligence

In 2011* a study was published in...
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Am I a creative parent?

Last week I had a shoulder operation.

After years of discomfort and restricted movement following a swimming injury, it finally seized up and I could not move it at all. The x-rays showed a large calcification in my tendon which was causing inflammation and stopping movement. No wonder I couldn’t swim faster!

I am relieved that I finally know what was wrong and that I was able to have the obstruction removed and the bone shaved to make more room in there. However, I am also frustrated that I’ve spent so much time and money over the last few years seeing physiotherapists, biokineticists, and chiropractors whose hard work was not going to solve my problem.

The intention was good, but the solutions were not helping.

When it comes to my kids, I don’t want to have those kinds of regrets. I don’t want to look back when they’ve grown up and think: Oh dear, my intention was good, but all along I was applying the wrong kind of parenting!

Parenting is tough,...

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How do I know if I have a creative mind?

Find out what makes up a creative mindset and take the assessment below

Don’t you just love a sharp, good quality pencil. There’s nothing like putting a sharpened pencil to paper and making your mark. I get a thrill from a clean page in a good quality notebook and quiet pocket of time to write or draw. Perhaps a blank page intimidates you? If so, here’s a trick: just start.

 At Creativity Wake-Up, we like to think of creativity as a prized pencil, used for writing your life’s story. At the tip of the pencil, the lead or writing element, is your creative mindset, skillset and toolset. The mindset is at the base because this is the foundation of your creativity. You build your creative skillset on the mindset that you are development. To your creative skillset, you add tools. But it all starts with the mindset. Without the creative mindset, the skills and tools will not get you very far!

 At the back of the pencil, you have an eraser. It is...

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When not letting go impacts your business

Last week I wrote about having to let go of our much-loved and well-used record collection and vinyl turntables. (The turntables went yesterday. Boohoo. See photo at the end of this post.) Since then, many of you have reached out to say that you are experiencing something similar, so the story seems to have have hit a chord.    

I’ve been digging deeper into the importance of letting go and I think you’ll be interested in my findings. It seems businesses have an even harder time letting go. I guess in business there is the multiplier effect of not just one, but many minds unwilling or unable to let go.

Is your business making the mistake of not letting go?

 Are you limiting creativity and innovation in your business by hanging on too tightly?

Here are three ways that not letting go can hold your business back from innovation and growth:

  1. Incapacitated learning
  2. Functional fixedness
  3. Sunk cost bias

1. Incapacitated learning


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Is Not Letting Go limiting your creativity?

My struggle with letting go

His words punch me in the pit of my stomach. A twisting dread. A panicky longing. “I’ve sold the first lot. The buyer will be here any minute,” he says.  

My husband has been talking about selling our turntables and records for a long time. Suddenly it is all happening. It’s real. The collection of vinyl we have built up in our twenties and the Technics decks we spent so many happy hours playing them on will soon be gone.

“It makes perfect sense,” my rational mind tells me. He’s moved onto digital mixing and can get all of the music from the cloud. I haven’t put much effort into learning how to use our CDJs (digital turntables) and hardly play anymore. The records weigh a ton and take up a lot of space. They hold a lot of value but were gathering dust.  

Yet, in LockDown, I had hauled them out again and had a spin. I got my groove back and rediscovered the joy of mixing music that you can...

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How do we help people unlock creativity?

A search that unearthed a surprise

“Arggghhh!” The farmer clenched his fists and cried out in frustration. He’d lost a hammer in his field and was wasting precious time looking for it. Not that the hammer itself was so precious but it was solid enough to do damage to his machinery should it be ridden over. When he rang up a friend with a metal detector, neither of them were aware of the turn the day would take.

The friend set off into the field and began to scan the ground. After some time, the alarm sounded and he started to dig, thinking that he had uncovered the hammer. Instead, he pulled up an ancient gold coin. Wha? More digging. More coins and some jewellery. Flummoxed and thrilled in equal measure, he called the farmer and they dug together. They could not believe their eyes. Could it true? Was this real? What they had unearthed was a true treasure trove!

This is the true story of farmer Peter Whatling and his friend Eric Lawes. In 1992 they found what is...

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Do you have what it takes to lead innovation?

They had what it takes.

One group of leaders took a nation from zero to hero in less than a century. In fact, in the first 30 years of the turnaround, they achieved the industrial growth that took Europe 100 years to achieve.

When I first heard about this country’s transformation, I was amazed. Just over six decades ago, it was one of the poorest nations in the world. Years of war and exploitation left families scarred, separated and destitute. 

Recognise this place? Kayelitsha?

Cities looked like slums. Food was so scarce that people scoured the hills for edible herbs and plants. Their prospects looked pretty bleak!

A country decimated by decades of war

Then came a dazzling national transformation. Under strong, creative leadership, South Korea (you guessed it!) steadily implemented a new vision. In addition to massive infrastructure development and government support for new business growth, the country was opened up to foreign markets with export-oriented policies....

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Creativity in Captivity: Lessons in creativity from an Al Qaeda hostage

With nothing but the clothes on his back, his creativity, and a positive attitude, Stephen McGown managed to survive six years of captivity as a hostage of of Al-Qaeda in the Sahara desert.

In celebration of World Creativity & Innovation Week, we had the privilege of interviewing Stephen and finding out more about what kept him going all those years. He explained how creativity helped him to overcome the physical challenges of living in the harsh environment of the Sahara, as well as the mental challenges of living as a hostage. Here are some excerpts from our interview. 

(For the full story, get your hands on Stephen's fascinating book, Six years with Al Qaeda, which can be ordered on his website.)


Taken hostage by Al-Qaeda

Stephen McGown shortly before being kidnapped in Timbuktu, Mali 

From a young age Stephen dreamed of riding a motorcycle across Africa. Though he grew up in Johannesburg, his holidays were spent on a farm where he...

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Why the United Nations prioritised creativity


Marci Segal, founder of World Creativity & Innovation Week, 15-21 April

Four years ago, the UN General Assembly recognised creativity development as a global imperative. Here is why.


A global movement is born

When the headline, “Canada in Creativity Crisis” appeared in the National Post in 2001, Canadian creativity expert, Marci Segal, decide to take action. Having studied creativity in the 70s at the International Centre for Studies in Creativity, SUNY Buffalo, she understood the power of creative thinking and how it can be developed. She knew that with deliberate effort and training, people can learn to generate new ideas, make new decisions, take new actions and achieve new outcomes, to solve problems and achieve success.

Watch Marci's full talk here (15 mins) : Marci Segal/World Creativity and Innovation Day, April 21

Segal knew she had to think big, so she started a global movement by founding World Creativity and Innovation Day. She chose April 21, the...

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How to increase your Creativity Quotient

Your Creativity Quotient is a measure of your creative intelligence. Can you increase your creative intelligence? Yes!  Here are three short videos with some helpful advice from experts on how to be more creative. 


How burnout makes us less creative | Rahaf Harfoush

The Way We Work, a TED series (5:05 mins) 

It’s understandable that you want to be productive – we all do! But digital anthropologist Rahaf Harfoush says that putting too much pressure on yourself to perform can actually have the opposite of your desired effect.

“We’ve been so obsessed with doing more that we’ve missed the most important thing.”


3 key ideas

  • Our idea of productivity is strongly founded in industrial era thinking when output was measured in terms of widgets produced. The knowledge work era has much more abstract outputs like solving problems and strategising.
  • Our self-worth is wrapped up in productivity and we...
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