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How to stifle your creativity in 10 easy steps

How to stifle your creativity in 10 easy steps
  1. Be afraid. Be very afraid. There’s nothing like fear to put a stop to any kind of creativity: fear of getting it wrong; fear of what other people may say; fear of embarrassment; fear of change. The more afraid that you are, the less creative you will be—and the less you will act on any creative thoughts that manage to break through the curtain of anxiety.
  2. Remind yourself of all the times that you failed in the past. Keep them fresh in your mind. Dwell on them—the pain, the shame, the hurt, the way others sniggered. Let your imagination go to work and really re-live those cringe-making moments. That should stop you ever trying again.
  3. Never waste time. Stay constantly busy. Never mind what the tasks are, just keep them coming thick and fast. Time is money, isn’t it? There’s no mileage in leaving any moments free from gainful activity—especially for self-indulgent activities like day dreaming or reflecting on what has happened. If you fill every waking moment with busyness, you won’t have to worry about creative thoughts sneaking up on you. There will be no space for them.
  4. Always try to fit in. Be much more than a good team player—be the person who never, ever rocks the boat. Whatever seems to be the majority opinion, go with it. People who have ideas of their own can face suspicion or—horror of horrors—criticism and dislike by the majority. Don’t risk being on the wrong side. The minute that it’s clear what the majority (or the most powerful players) want, that’s where your opinions and thoughts must be.
  5. Stick to what you know. Tried and true is what’s right for you. Change and novelty involve risk, and risks can go wrong. If you give in to entertaining innovative thoughts, you may find that what you’ve been doing all these years isn’t as good as you thought. That would upset you and maybe force you to do something risky, like altering your habits or changing your viewpoint. So don’t be rash. Caution must be your watchword at all times. Whatever that new idea is, let it wait a while—say a decade or so—before considering it seriously. You’ll be surprised how many will go away in far less time than that.
  6. Always defer to authority. The people in charge must know what they are doing, or they wouldn’t hold the positions that they do. It would be presumptuous to inject any of your own ideas, when they clearly have all the answers. Rules exist to be obeyed, not challenged. If you always do exactly as you are told, you won’t ever risk disapproval from your betters.
  7. Don’t ask stupid questions. Best of all, don’t ask any questions. They only get people into trouble. Folk who develop the nasty habit of questioning things may upset the status quo, and that simply causes trouble and disruption. Things are as they are. There’s no point wasting time or effort wondering whether they ought to be different in some way. Only dissidents and weirdoes don’t understand that simple fact.
  8. Always listen to your Inner Critic. It’s there to stop you making a fool of yourself. Whatever it says, pay close attention. It will unfailingly point out how useless, pointless, and silly those creative ideas really are. It will explain to you that they will never work, and how expressing them will only make you a laughingstock. It’s your friend. Trust it implicitly.
  9. Leave thinking to the experts. There’s no point in bothering them with with your pathetic notions or observations. If it was an idea worth having, the experts would already have thought about it. They have all kinds of qualifications and can use long words too. If you think that some change might be needed (and you can’t simply ignore such a disruptive idea), hire expensive, expert consultants to do the thinking. They’ll quickly tell you whatever you want to hear, then add what others are doing, so you can copy them. Best of all, if it goes wrong, you can first of all say that what you did was follow industry best practice (whatever that means); and, if that doesn’t disarm any criticism, you can blame the consultants.
  10. Keep it simple, stupid. The worst thing about creative ideas is that they so often make life more complicated. The best way to stay on an even keel is to keep everything very, very simple. Find one or two rules of thumb and stick to them like glue. Don’t listen to anyone who tries to tell you that there aren’t simple, easy answers to every situation. There are. It’s just that, for some odd reason, they don’t work very often—if ever. Still, persistence is a great virtue. If you stay with these simple, superficial approaches long enough, one or two are bound to work in some circumstance, sometime. Then you can point out to the clever dicks that you were right all along. Why mess up your head with learning? It’s learning that allows creative ideas in the first place. Anyway, learning is for children. Adults like you don’t need it.
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    Adrian Savage is a writer, an Englishman, and a retired business executive, in that order. He lives in Tucson, Arizona. You can read his other articles at Slow Leadership, the site for everyone who wants to build a civilized place to work and bring back the taste, zest and satisfaction to leadership and life. His latest book, Slow Leadership: Civilizing The Organization

      , is now available at all good bookstores.

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    Last Updated on November 5, 2019

    How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

    How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

    Assuming the public school system didn’t crush your soul, learning is a great activity. It expands your viewpoint. It gives you new knowledge you can use to improve your life. It is important for your personal growth. Even if you discount the worldly benefits, the act of learning can be a source of enjoyment.

    “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” — Mark Twain

    But in a busy world, it can often be hard to fit in time to learn anything that isn’t essential. The only things learned are those that need to be. Everything beyond that is considered frivolous. Even those who do appreciate the practice of lifelong learning, can find it difficult to make the effort.

    Here are some tips for installing the habit of continuous learning:

    1. Always Have a Book

    It doesn’t matter if it takes you a year or a week to read a book. Always strive to have a book that you are reading through, and take it with you so you can read it when you have time.

    Just by shaving off a few minutes in-between activities in my day I can read about a book per week. That’s at least fifty each year.

    2. Keep a “To-Learn” List

    We all have to-do lists. These are the tasks we need to accomplish. Try to also have a “to-learn” list. On it you can write ideas for new areas of study.

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    Maybe you would like to take up a new language, learn a skill or read the collective works of Shakespeare. Whatever motivates you, write it down.

    3. Get More Intellectual Friends

    Start spending more time with people who think. Not just people who are smart, but people who actually invest much of their time in learning new skills. Their habits will rub off on you.

    Even better, they will probably share some of their knowledge with you.

    4. Guided Thinking

    Albert Einstein once said,

    “Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.”

    Simply studying the wisdom of others isn’t enough, you have to think through ideas yourself. Spend time journaling, meditating or contemplating over ideas you have learned.

    5. Put it Into Practice

    Skill based learning is useless if it isn’t applied. Reading a book on C++ isn’t the same thing as writing a program. Studying painting isn’t the same as picking up a brush.

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    If your knowledge can be applied, put it into practice.

    In this information age, we’re all exposed to a lot of information, it’s important to re-learn how to learn so as to put the knowledge into practice.

    6. Teach Others

    You learn what you teach. If you have an outlet of communicating ideas to others, you are more likely to solidify that learning.

    Start a blog, mentor someone or even discuss ideas with a friend.

    7. Clean Your Input

    Some forms of learning are easy to digest, but often lack substance.

    I make a point of regularly cleaning out my feed reader for blogs I subscribe to. Great blogs can be a powerful source of new ideas. But every few months, I realize I’m collecting posts from blogs that I am simply skimming.

    Every few months, purify your input to save time and focus on what counts.

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    8. Learn in Groups

    Lifelong learning doesn’t mean condemning yourself to a stack of dusty textbooks. Join organizations that teach skills.

    Workshops and group learning events can make educating yourself a fun, social experience.

    9. Unlearn Assumptions

    You can’t add water to a full cup. I always try to maintain a distance away from any idea. Too many convictions simply mean too few paths for new ideas.

    Actively seek out information that contradicts your worldview.

    Our minds can’t be trusted, but this is what we can do about it to be wiser.

    10. Find Jobs that Encourage Learning

    Pick a career that encourages continual learning. If you are in a job that doesn’t have much intellectual freedom, consider switching to one that does.

    Don’t spend forty hours of your week in a job that doesn’t challenge you.

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    11. Start a Project

    Set out to do something you don’t know how. Forced learning in this way can be fun and challenging.

    If you don’t know anything about computers, try building one. If you consider yourself a horrible artist, try a painting.

    12. Follow Your Intuition

    Lifelong learning is like wandering through the wilderness. You can’t be sure what to expect and there isn’t always an end goal in mind.

    Letting your intuition guide you can make self-education more enjoyable. Most of our lives have been broken down to completely logical decisions, that making choices on a whim has been stamped out.

    13. The Morning Fifteen

    Productive people always wake up early. Use the first fifteen minutes of your morning as a period for education.

    If you find yourself too groggy, you might want to wait a short time. Just don’t put it off later in the day where urgent activities will push it out of the way.

    14. Reap the Rewards

    Learn information you can use. Understanding the basics of programming allows me to handle projects that other people would require outside help. Meeting a situation that makes use of your educational efforts can be a source of pride.

    15. Make Learning a Priority

    Few external forces are going to persuade you to learn. The desire has to come from within. Once you decide you want to make lifelong learning a habit, it is up to you to make it a priority in your life.

    More About Continuous Learning

    Featured photo credit: Paul Schafer via unsplash.com

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