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Why Some People Are More Creative Than Others

Why Some People Are More Creative Than Others

Would you label yourself a creative person? Do you think creativity is something we are born with? Creativity is more than the simple left versus right brain. It is more than your logical hemisphere compared to your creative hemisphere. Creativity and learning takes place when we are able to connect new knowledge with knowledge we were already familiar with. Creativity is something we can all develop. In fact, it has been scientifically proven that creativity can be cultivated.

Prior to the last couple of years, I used to think creativity was something you were born with. I believed one of the myths of creativity and used it as an excuse. Do you associate with any of these common myths about creativity? Common myths:[1]

  • You are born with it.
  • You have to be right-brained.
  • It falls into your lap.
  • You’ve got to be a little mad.

Everyone has fell victim to at least one of these myths, but anyone can be creative, not just the privileged few. Let’s take a look at how some people embrace this mindset and become more creative than the rest.

They are good at making connections between different ideas.

“Part of creativity is picking the little bubbles that come up to your conscious mind, and picking which one to let grow and which one to give access to more of your mind.” – Nancy Andreasen

Yevgeniy Brikman has an interesting analogy for creativity. He looks at creative thinking as a deck of index cards. He remarks,

“Imagine you have a deck of index cards and that each card has a word or phrase on it. These cards represent the ideas and thoughts that are floating in your head.”[2]

Try the following with index cards, where each card has a word or phrase on it:

  1. Shuffle the index cards.
  2. Drop them on the floor.
  3. Scan over the cards and see what sentences have formed from the random arrangement of words.

Brikman asserts, “Most of the time, the random permutations will be meaningless. You just have to pick up the cards and return to step 1. However, every now and then, a meaningful sentence or thought will emerge. Sometimes this will be a full solution to a problem – the ‘aha’ moment. Other times, this will be a mere stepping stone from which you gather enough info to add or remove index cards from your deck before returning to step 1.”

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They are divergent thinkers.

“We are boxed in by the boundary conditions of our thinking” – Albert Einstein

    Creative thinkers are not linear thinkers. In fact, they are divergent or lateral thinkers. They embrace a different way of thinking and attack problems from new angles. Creative people can literally remove their mind from the box. Typically, most people think that you must remain within the already known boundaries. However, when we move out of the box, we then extend our boundaries beyond the existing framework. This is critically important in cultivating creativity.

    They act on the eureka moment.

    “Seeing something that doesn’t exist and then making it so.” – Hugh Howey

    Have you ever had that unbelievable epiphany or insight that just suddenly occurs in your mind? This is the eureka effect, our experience of suddenly comprehending something that was previously incomprehensible. The effect is named after a story about the ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes. However, we will use a different example of this effect. Sidney Harris has a simple cartoon that visualizes this effect perfectly. In her cartoon, she draws an illustration of Albert Einstein standing before a chalkboard. On the board, Einstein has two different equations crossed out. The title of the cartoon is the “The Creative Moment” and is a fabulous caricature of one of the most important discoveries in history.

    Creative thinkers endlessly search for their creative moment. So, the next time you have a eureka moment, use the following tips to act on it.

    There are four stages of the creative process.

    Let’s now discuss how you can activate your creative mind by following these four stages.[3]

    1. Preparation. So, did you think this would start with an idea? Well, you would be wrong. Here we are gathering facts and existing ideas about our problem. In the first stage, start asking questions in order to start generating ideas.
    2. Incubation. This stage is important. Go for a jog or take a bath (Thank Archimedes for this idea!), but make sure you allow the problem to wander in your mind.
    3. Sudden Insight. Here is your eureka moment! This is where your connections overflow until that fantastic ‘aha’ moment hits.
    4. Manifestation. In this stage you carry out and apply the sudden insight.

    We can cultivate creativity in numerous ways.

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      “Ask questions for which there are no answers.”

      There are certain things we can all do in order to become more creative. Let’s look at some of them.

      • Ask questions. “Successful creators don’t just like knowledge, they thirst for it. They can’t stop asking question, and they always go beyond what they’ve learned from teachers and books.” – Keith Sawyer
      • Practice. When we practice a skill over and over again it will start to become a habit. Write about how to develop a creative mindset, blog about it, and even try to teach other people about it.
      • Use an analogy. When we use analogies, we find similarity between two things. Think of the index card example earlier.
      • Random word. If you have a problem and you need a completely outside-the-box approach to solving it… try this. Go to randomwordgenerator.com and generate a random word. Here the random word serves as a stimulus which will then serve as a bridge between the stimulus and the idea which will help you solve the problem.[4]
      • Leave your comfort zone. “But the essence of creativity is to be surprised, to come up with something you really didn’t know. That’s the nova in innovation. It’s the newness. And if you keep doing the same old thing, you won’t do the new thing. But when you suspend the old thing, the new thing doesn’t always automatically emerge.” – Michael Gelb
      • Read poetry. Metacognition is when we think about what we are thinking about. This revelation recently hit me. The most powerful deep thinking approach is poetry.
      • Mind mapping. This is a great way to take a topic down a rabbit hole. This is where you have your main idea in the center. The main idea branches out to second and third-level branches. This will help you see patterns that others fail to see.

      So, are you now motivated to become a creative thinker? Do you believe you can? Well, you should. On your journey to become a more creative thinker, remember the four stages and don’t forget that you have to let your thoughts incubate for a while. Don’t try to force the ‘aha’ moment. Allow yourself the time to let your mind wander. Once you do this, you will find that you are able to create something out of nothing.

      Reference

      More by this author

      Dr. Jamie Schwandt

      Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

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      Last Updated on July 10, 2020

      The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

      The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

      Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

      Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

      The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

      Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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      Program Your Own Algorithms

      Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

      Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

      By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

      How to Form a Ritual

      I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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      Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

      1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
      2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
      3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
      4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

      Ways to Use a Ritual

      Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

      1. Waking Up

      Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

      2. Web Usage

      How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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      3. Reading

      How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

      4. Friendliness

      Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

      5. Working

      One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

      6. Going to the gym

      If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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      7. Exercise

      Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

      8. Sleeping

      Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

      8. Weekly Reviews

      The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

      Final Thoughts

      We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

      More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

       

      Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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