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...
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.
It was late on a Thursday evening when Helen finally finished up her work and got ready to leave the office. As she made her way out, she found the CEO standing in front of a shredder with a piece of paper in her hand.
"Listen," said the CEO "this is a very sensitive and important document here, and my secretary has gone for the night. Can you make this thing work?"
As a young executive, Helen was eager to be of assistance. "Certainly," she said and she turned the machine on, inserted the paper and pressed the start button.
"Excellent, excellent!" said the CEO as her paper disappeared inside the machine. "Thanks for your help. I just need one copy."
This Friday, March 19, is Red Nose Day in the UK. It is run by the charity Comic Relief which was launched in 1985 live from a refugee camp in Sudan during the Ethiopian famine. Red Nose Day is a campaign to end child poverty, using humour and grassroots fundraising as the basis of...
To nurture a creative mindset, become a lifelong learner. Here's how:
One way to assess your mindset is to think about how much you value learning. Creative thinkers love to learn and prioritise learning. I'm not talking about you saying: "Yes, learning is important. I believe in lifelong learning."
I mean, if I came and analysed your calendar or watched you for a week, would I see you learning? Would I see you setting aside time and putting effort into learning new skills, reading books, talking to people to learn from them (and listening!)? Would I see you going beyond your domain and learning seemingly unrelated skills, reading about different industries, reading books from different countries, investing time in learning a language or a creative art?
Do you learn by doing or do you tend towards cerebral learning, keeping it in all as knowledge or theories in your head? We really learn when we put something into action and find out...
When my mum was preparing to leave home after university, and travel alone to a far away land, her little sister worried. "Aren't you going to be lonely? Who will look after you?" "Don't fret," said my courageous mum (the eldest in the family and the path finder), "If I ever feel scared or alone, then I'll just look in the mirror and say to myself - Hello Sue, at least I've got you!."
Wherever we go... there we are! We'll always have ourselves. If we can learn to be our biggest fans and cheerleaders, imagine what we can accomplish!
I love this quote I came across: “Imagine if we obsessed about the things we love about ourselves.”
Give yourself a mental, physical and spiritual hug today. You are one of a kind. The world needs what you have to offer.
We ask all our students what their biggest creativity killer is. Time and again the creativity killer that tops the list is self doubt. It's the persistent voice in the head that tell us we're a failure because everyone around...
Curiosity is integral to a creative mindset. It propels us forward to explore, to seek, to find out, to experiment, to ask questions.
How healthy is your curiosity? A lack of curiosity can lead to apathy, boredom, conformity, low empathy and a sense of being stuck. Pay attention to your thinking over the next couple of days and notice: Are you interested in finding out why someone who angers you behaves that way? Do you wonder how everyday technology and systems work? Do you wrestle with problems until you can solve them? Are you interested in finding out about your colleagues’ upbringings? Do you question beliefs or points of view you’ve held since your youth?
If your curiosity has waned, fear not! Curiosity can be nurtured and grown with deliberate intention and a bit of effort. Einstein said: “I have no special talent, I’m only passionately curious.”
Did you know…?
Sustaining high levels of curiosity is the starting point of creativity.
Do you daydream? Do you remember with pleasure special times with friends or great sporting moments? Do you have sexual fantasies? Do you mix and match items, colours and accessories when you buy clothes to create your own style? Do you like different kinds of music? Do you have books at home you’d love to read but haven't gotten to yet?
If your answer to any of these questions is yes or even tends towards yes, then you ARE creative. What you believe about your creativity is more important than you may realise.
“If you fight hard enough for your limitations, you to get to keep them.” These are the words of Jim Kwik, world expert in optimal brain performance and a favourite teacher of mine. Are you fighting for this limitation that so many people hang on to? Have you said or thought, ‘I don’t have a creative bone in my body’ or ‘I’m just not creative’?
If you have, please think of the possible implications. This is a self-limiting...
What is it about the first step that can make a new endeavour so hard? Even unachievable. The stony silence of the blank page. The indeterminable dread of the empty spreadsheet. The mysterious darkness beyond the lighted path. Your mind grappling with where to place your foot: How? When? Where? Should I? Can I?
I am experiencing this first-step fright as I undertake simultaneously to begin a journey to develop my creativity, whilst at the same time developing learning to help others do the same. Two wise people recently said to me, on two separate occasions, “Stop going on courses and trying to get more qualified, you banana*! <my addition*> You have everything inside of you that you need. Just start.” (You know who you are @TanyaVanderWaal and @LisaLinfield.) It was just the kick in the pants I needed.
So here goes.
I have this weird sense that my whole life has been a slow process of waking up. I love waking up. Let me clarify. I love waking up...
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