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How to Become a Creative Genius

How to Become a Creative Genius
Einstein

When we measure the creativity of young children, virtually all of them will record as being ‘highly creative’. However, only a small percentage of adults register as being ‘highly creative’.

What happened?

Schools have crushed creativity. We were told to color within the lines. We were taught to follow instructions. The goal in
school is to get the “right” answer. Unfortunately, if you’re afraid to be wrong, you’ll never be creative or original.

The job of education is to produce employees who follow instructions. And to this endeavor, they are doing a
very good job. However, in terms of creativity, they are falling terribly short.

This is one of the most unfortunate realities in our current education system.

To undo this, we must continuallyexercise our creative juices. That’s why I have put together 6 tips for expanding your creativity.

1. Keep a Notebook and Pencil on hand at all times.

Ideas are like in-laws, you never know when they’re coming over to visit. By keeping a notebook around, you will always
be able to capture your ideas at any time of the day.

Leonardo da Vinci was well known for keeping a journal of his ideas. His notebooks are now prized possessions that hold
the many creative and genius thoughts of this master thinker, painter, and inventor.

His notebooks were filled with plans for flying machines, a parachute, a helicopter, the extendable ladder, the bicycle,
folding furniture, and a number of automated tools for increasing productivity.

Yes, I am happy to say that Leonardo da Vinci was a productivity junkie.

A blank page is an open invitation for the creative and curious mind. The simple act of writing gets you into a
creative flow that can last for hours.

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The free-flowing, exploratory practice of keeping a journal encourages freedom of thought and expanded perspectives.

2. The second key to creativity is to ask questions.

Questions are the root of all knowledge and creativity. By continually asking questions about the world around us, we
fuel our creative fire.

Great minds are those that have asked the greatest questions.

Leonardo da Vinci asked such questions as:

“Why does the thunder last a longer time than that which causes it?” and “Why is the sky blue?”

Socrates asked such questions as:

  • “What is wisdom?”
  • “What is piety?”
  • “What is beauty?”

As a young boy, Albert Einstein asked himself, “What would it be like to run beside a light beam at the speed of
light?”

A number of inventions have been created by asking one simple question…

“What if…..?”

By asking questions we increase our level of consciousness and our perspective of the world.

3. To become a creative genius, you must also be a voracious reader.

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Reading enhances your mental ability and lets you experience the world from a brand new perspective.

When we read a book, we let go of our own perspectives and experience the world from the characters that have been crafted by the author.

I have found in my own life that the more I read, the more I want to know. Reading becomes an insatiable desire and an unquenchable thirst.

4. Seek out new experiences.

Our minds are much like a garden. Without proper care, the weeds will take over. Nothing sparks the mind like learning something new.

If you want to expand your creativity, then learn a new skill. It can be anything you choose. Learn a new language.
Learn to water ski. Learn to play an instrument. Pick up photography or even try a new sport.

All of these activities get your mind working outside of its regular patterns.

5. Become a whole-brain thinker.

There are generally two-types of people in this world: left-brained and right-brained.

In most cases, people are either analytical thinkers who enjoy math, science, and logic or they are highly
imaginative and creative individuals who focus on the big-picture.

Unfortunately, our school systems generally cater to those who are left-brained analytical thinkers. This has created
a world of employees who are very good at following directions but are not so good at developing new ideas.

To break the mold, we must become whole-brain, holistic thinkers.

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You can do this by using a powerful method known as mind mapping.

Mind mapping has been used by some of history’s greatest brains, including Michelangelo, Mark Twain, and Leonardo da
Vinci.

Mind mapping is a whole-brain activity that will awaken your creative side as well as your analytical side.

Mind mapping will also help you to generate new ideas when needed. It doesn’t matter whether you’re using it for
personal goal setting, problem solving, or simply to become a more creative, whole-brain thinker.

Our mind works in pictures, associating one idea to the next. Mind mapping allows you to continue this natural
thought process on paper.

Mind mapping is one of the most powerful tools for awakening your creativity.

For a detailed explanation of mind mapping, go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind_map

6. The final tool for developing your creativity is imaginary dialogue.

Yes, I know, it may sound silly at first, but this technique can be an extremely powerful tool for developing your
creativity.

This technique was first introduced in the best-selling book by Napoleon Hill, “Think and Grow Rich”.

Before achieving his success, Napoleon Hill was first meeting with an imaginary mastermind each night. He would
close his eyes and visualize a table occupied by such great men as Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Napoleon
Bonaparte, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Elbert Hubbard.

Napoleon Hill would then speak to the members of his imaginary mastermind in the following manner:

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“Mr. Lincoln: I desire to build in my own character those qualities of patience and fairness toward all mankind and
the keen sense of humor which were your outstanding characteristics.”

“Mr. Washington: I desire to build in my own character those qualities of patriotism and self-sacrifice and leadership which were your outstanding characteristics.”

“Mr. Hubbard: I desire to develop the ability to equal and even to excel the ability that you possessed with which to express yourself in clear, concise and forceful language.”

After meeting with his mastermind group for several months, he found that he had developed each of their desired
characteristics into his own personality.

Napoleon also went to his imaginary mastermind to help solve any problem he was facing.

The imaginary mastermind is a master tool for finding new perspectives and looking at your problem from a different angle.

For example, let’s say that you own a business. Why not develop an imaginary mastermind of the greatest business
minds in history? You can call to your table such names as Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie, Walt Disney, Bill Gates, Ray
Kroc, and Sam Walton.

Call on them daily for advice and you will begin to see your problems in a new light. As once said by Albert Einstein,

“You can’t solve a problem with the same mind that created it.”

You can have even more creative fun by imagining a discussion between two different well-known people.
Some examples to get you started include:

  • Bill Gates Vs. Steve Jobs
  • Leonardo da Vinci vs. Albert Einstein
  • William Shakespeare vs. Maya Angelou

Let your mind wander and you will be surprised at all of the connections you begin to make.

Kim Roach is a productivity junkie who blogs regularly at
The Optimized Life. Read her articles on 50 Essential
GTD Resources
, How to Have a 46 Hour Day, Do You Need
a Braindump
, What They Don’t Teach You in School, and
Free Yourself From the Inbox.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard.

The Keys to Learning Anything Easily

Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

Curiosity

Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

Patience

Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

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Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

A Feeling for Connectedness

This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

How to Self-Taught Effectively

With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

1. Research

Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

Learning the Basics

Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

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Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

Hitting the Books

Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

Long-Term Reference

While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

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2. Practice

Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

Check out this guide for useful techniques to help you practice efficiently: The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice

3. Network

One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

Here find out How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life.

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4. Schedule

For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

Final Thoughts

In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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