Flourishing Creativity

1)      You are creative.  Creativity is imbedded in our biological makeup just as much as breathing.  The only difference between people who are creative and people who are not is a simple belief.  Creative people believe they are creative.  If you believe you are not creative, then there is no need to learn how to become creative; it boxes in your reality from trying anything new.  To quote Henry Ford, “whether you think you can or think you can’t, you are right.”

2)      Creative thinking is work.  You must be patience to persevere against all adversity.  All creative geniuses work passionately hard and produce incredible numbers of ideas, most of which are bad. In fact, more bad poems were written by the major poets than by minor poets. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart produced more than six hundred pieces of music, including forty-one symphonies and some forty-odd operas and masses. Rembrandt produced around 650 paintings and 2,000 drawings and Picasso executed more than 20,000 works. Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets. Some were simply bad, while others were no better than his contemporaries could have written, but the perseverance it what produces the truly iconic masterpieces.

3)      Your brain is not a computer.  Your brain is a dynamic system that evolves its patterns of activity rather than a computation devise.  It thrives on the creative energy of feedback from experiences real or fictional.  You can synthesize experience; literally create it in your own imagination. The human brain cannot tell the difference between an “actual” experience and an experience imagined vividly and in detail. This discovery is what enabled Albert Einstein to create his thought experiments with imaginary scenarios that led to his revolutionary ideas about space and time. One day, for example, he imagined falling in love.  Then he imagined meeting the woman he fell in love with two weeks after he fell in love. This led to his theory of acausality.  The same process of synthesizing experience allowed Walt Disney to bring his fantasies to life.

4)      Don’t allow yourself to get discouraged.  Beethoven’s parents were told he was too stupid to be a music composer. Charles Darwin’s colleagues called him a fool and what he was doing “fool’s experiments” when he worked on his theory of biological evolution. Walt Disney was fired from his first job on a newspaper because “he lacked imagination.”  Michael Jordan was cut from his basketball team for lacking talent.  Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you wanted.

5)      There is no such thing as failure; there are only learning opportunities.  Whenever you try to do something and do not succeed, you do not fail. You have learned something that does not work.  Once Thomas Edison was approached by an assistant while working on the filament for the light bulb. The assistant asked Edison why he didn’t give up. “After all,” he said, “you have failed 5000 times.” Edison looked at him and told him that he didn’t understand what the assistant meant by failure, because, Edison said, “I have discovered 5000 things that don’t work.” You construct your own reality by how you choose to interpret your experiences.

6)      Always approach a problem on its own terms.  Do not trust your first perspective of a problem as it will be too biased toward your usual way of thinking.  Always look at your problem from multiple perspectives.  Always remember that genius is finding a perspective no one else has taken. Look for different ways to look at the problem. Write the problem statement several times using different words. Draw a picture of the problem, make a model, or mold a sculpture.  Take a walk and look for things that metaphorically represent the problem and force connections between those things and the problem.  Ask your friends and strangers how they see the problem. Ask a child. How would a ten year old solve it? Ask a grandparent. Imagine you are the problem. When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

7)      Learn to think unconventionally.  Creative geniuses do not think analytically and logically. Conventional, logical, analytical thinkers are exclusive thinkers which means they exclude all information that is not related to the problem. They look to eliminate possibilities.  Creative geniuses are inclusive thinkers which mean they look for ways to include everything, including things that are dissimilar and totally unrelated.  Generating associations and connections between unrelated or dissimilar subjects is how they provoke different thinking patterns in their brain.  Only then will unbound creativity flourish.

And, finally, Creativity is paradoxical. To create, a person must have knowledge but forget the knowledge, must see unexpected connections in things but not have a mental disorder, must work hard but spend time doing nothing as information incubates, must create many ideas yet most of them are useless, must look at the same thing as everyone else, yet see something different, must desire success but embrace failure, must be persistent but not stubborn, and must listen to experts but know how to disregard them.

Leave a Reply