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Change Your Mind. 13 Exercises To Become A Creative Genius

Change Your Mind. 13 Exercises To Become A Creative Genius

It is time to de-bunk that myth about creativity being a God-given talent only given to a select few. The reality is that the ability to be creative is within all of us. The notable author Malcolm Gladwell also affirms this in his book Outliers. From chess champions to musical prodigies such as the Beatles, Gladwell highlights the fact that that many creative geniuses in history are simply a product of many hours practicing their craft.

The whole field of Neuroscience, specifically Neuroplasticity is buzzing with excitement with more and more research showing that the brain is very flexible in its ability to learn, acquire different traits, and go through significant changes. As more people are making amazing changes to their brain through training, it should be great encouragement for everyone wanting to cultivate a more creative mind.

Here are 13 exercises to get you started.

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1. Draw something.

Nobody is expecting you to be the next Picasso. And your first attempt may be a stick figure, but drawing has been shown to have significant effects in activating parts of your right brain. Whether it is your coffee mug, your laptop, or your sunglasses, take out a pencil and just start sketching.

2. Origami.

The wonderful Japanese art of Origami is about as creative as creativity can get. Take a piece of paper and turn it into something spectacular. There is no shortage of resources online to get you started on your first crane.

3. Genre jump.

Read something completely outside of your typical genre and style. Find an author that you have never read before and who writes in a style you are not used to. If you typically read romance novels, try read something from an academic journal. Cross over to the literary “dark side” and allow different genres to stretch you. It will allow you to think and write in more creative ways.

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4. Adjective spill.

Look out the window, what do you see? Quickly describe it ten different ways! The tree? Green, lush, tall, rough, beautiful, swaying—get that creativity flowing as you force your brain to throw out some descriptive words.

5. Become bilingual, or trilingual.

A great way to get your creative brain firing new neurons is to start learning that language you have always dreamed of. Pop down to the old second-hand book store and pick up a little phrase book. Start learning a new phrase each day and impress your friends while you are at it.

6. Look for a new life hack.

Always be on the lookout for how you could do something better or different. Use an empty water bottle to separate an egg. Turn your toaster sideways to grill cheese.

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7. Get musical.

The effects of music on the brain is tremendous, not just because of therapeutic aspects but also in the activation of so many different regions. Almost every song can be broken down to a progression of 4 different chords that you can easily learn on guitar or piano. With endless resources online, charge up your creative mind through exposing it to learning music.

8. Travel.

Exposure to a different culture, landscape, foods, and people is an amazing experience in and of itself. It is certainly great for developing your creative mind as it soaks up all the new information. You don’t need to go to the other side of the world either; any environment that is “new” for the mind is beneficial.

9. Lights, camera, action.

Pretend to be someone else for ten or twenty minutes. Put on that southern Texan drawl, or that British East-ender accent. Have a little fun and think of that movie character you have always wanted to play. Putting yourself in another person’s shoes will certainly force you into being creative.

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10. Increase your vocabulary.

Open up your dictionary and randomly choose a word, and then try and use it in a conversation today. There are lots of online dictionaries also that will already have a new word featured for each day. Keep a list and keep adding to it. A larger vocabulary will allow you to be more creative with your words.

11. Paint.

Painting, rather than drawing, adds the major use of color. The combinations and balances that you are challenged with developing will require a creative spark. There is a great connection between the mind and colors. Playing around with varying contrasts will produce creativity.

12. Become an Iron chef.

Pick 4 ingredients out of your fridge or pantry and see what you can manage to come up with. But careful not  to make yourself sick! Also, you could take one ingredient and see how many different ways you could use it.

13. Calisthenics, Parkour, and dancing.

Exercise is absolutely crucial for a healthy brain. Tie exercise together with creativity and you have a great combination. Calisthenics are exercises based off your own body weight. Many of these exercises can be done using furniture in your house or down at the park on the kids playground—people have become quite creative in what they can use. If you are really comfortable with your abilities, then Parkour is a great way to combine exercise and creativity. Otherwise, here is just another reason for you to start taking dance lessons!

Featured photo credit: Schlüsselbein2007 via flickr.com

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Last Updated on September 30, 2019

How To Write Effective Meeting Minutes (with Examples)

How To Write Effective Meeting Minutes (with Examples)

Minutes are a written record of a board, company, or organizational meeting. Meeting minutes are considered a legal document, so when writing them, strive for clarity and consistency of tone.

Because minutes are a permanent record of the meeting, be sure to proofread them well before sending. It is a good idea to run them by a supervisor or seasoned attendee to make sure statements and information are accurately captured.

The best meeting minutes takers are careful listeners, quick typists, and are adequately familiar with the meeting topics and attendees. The note taker must have a firm enough grasp of the subject matter to be able to separate the important points from the noise in what can be long, drawn-out discussions. And, importantly, the note taker should not simultaneously lead and take notes. (If you’re ever asked to do so, decline.)

Following, are some step-by-step hints to effectively write meeting minutes:

1. Develop an Agenda

Work with the Chairperson or Board President to develop a detailed agenda.

Meetings occur for a reason, and the issues to be addressed and decided upon need to be listed to alert attendees. Work with the convener to draft an agenda that assigns times to each topic to keep the meeting moving and to make sure the group has enough time to consider all items.

The agenda will serve as your outline for the meeting minutes. Keep the minutes’ headings consistent with the agenda topics for continuity.

2. Follow a Template from Former Minutes Taken

If you are new to a Board or organization, and are writing minutes for the first time, ask to see the past meeting minutes so that you can maintain the same format.

Generally, the organization name or the name of the group that is meeting goes at the top: “Meeting of the Board of Directors of XYZ,” with the date on the next line. After the date, include both the time the meeting came to order and the time the meeting ended.

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Most groups who meet do so regularly, with set agenda items at each meeting. Some groups include a Next Steps heading at the end of the minutes that lists projects to follow up on and assigns responsibility.

A template from a former meeting will also help determine whether or not the group records if a quorum was met, and other items specific to the organization’s meeting minutes.

3. Record Attendance

On most boards, the Board Secretary is the person responsible for taking the meeting minutes. In organizational meetings, the minutes taker may be a project coordinator or assistant to a manager or CEO. She or he should arrive a few minutes before the meeting begins and pass around an attendance sheet with all members’ names and contact information.

Meeting attendees will need to check off their names and make edits to any changes in their information. This will help as both a back-up document of attendees and ensure that information goes out to the most up-to-date email addresses.

All attendees’ names should be listed directly below the meeting name and date, under a subheading that says “Present.” List first and last names of all attendees, along with title or affiliation, separated by a comma or semi-colon.

If a member of the Board could not attend the meeting, cite his or her name after the phrase: “Copied To:” There may be other designations in the participants’ list. For example, if several of the meeting attendees are members of the staff while everyone else is a volunteer, you may want to write (Staff) after each staff member.

As a general rule, attendees are listed alphabetically by their last names. However, in some organizations, it’s a best practice to list the leadership of the Board first. In that case, the President or Co-Presidents would be listed first, followed by the Vice President, followed by the Secretary, and then by the Treasurer. Then all other names of attendees would be alphabetized by last name.

It is also common practice to note if a participant joined the meeting via conference call. This can be indicated by writing: “By Phone” and listing the participants who called in.

4. Naming Convention

Generally, the first time someone speaks in the meeting will include his or her name and often the title.

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For example, “President of the XYZ Board, Roger McGowan, called the meeting to order.” The next time Roger McGowan speaks, though, you can simply refer to him as “Roger.” If there are two Rogers in the meeting, use an initial for their last names to separate the two. “Roger M. called for a vote. Roger T. abstained.”

5. What, and What Not, to Include

Depending on the nature of the meeting, it could last from one to several hours. The attendees will be asked to review and then approve the meeting minutes. Therefore, you don’t want the minutes to extend into a lengthy document.

Capturing everything that people say verbatim is not only unnecessary, but annoying to reviewers.

For each agenda item, you ultimately want to summarize only the relevant points of the discussion along with any decisions made. After the meeting, cull through your notes, making sure to edit out any circular or repetitive arguments and only leave in the relevant points made.

6. Maintain a Neutral Tone

Minutes are a legal document. They are used to establish an organization’s historical record of activity. It is essential to maintain an even, professional tone. Never put inflammatory language in the minutes, even if the language of the meeting becomes heated.

You want to record the gist of the discussion objectively, which means mentioning the key points covered without assigning blame. For example, “The staff addressed board members’ questions regarding the vendor’s professionalism.”

Picture a lawyer ten years down the road reading the minutes to find evidence of potential wrongdoing. You wouldn’t want an embellishment in the form of a colorful adverb or a quip to cloud any account of what took place. Here’s a list of neutral sounding words to get started with.

7. Record Votes

The primary purpose of minutes is to record any votes a board or organization takes. Solid record-keeping requires mentioning which participant makes a motion — and what the motion states verbatim — and which participant seconds the motion.

For example, “Vice President Cindy Jacobsen made a motion to dedicate 50 percent, or $50,000, of the proceeds from the ZZZ Foundation gift to the CCC scholarship fund. President Roger McGowan seconded the motion.”

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This vote tabulation should be expressed in neutral language as well. “The Board voted unanimously to amend the charter in the following way,” or “The decision to provide $1,000 to the tree-planting effort passed 4 to 1, with Board President McGowan opposing.”

Most Boards try to get a vote passed unanimously. Sometimes in order to help the Board attain a more cohesive outcome, a Board member may abstain from voting. “The motion passed 17 to 1 with one absension.”

8. Pare down Notes Post-Meeting

Following the meeting, read through your notes while all the discussions remain fresh in your mind, and make any needed revisions. Then, pare the meeting minutes down to their essentials, providing a brief account of the discussion that summarizes arguments made for and against a decision.

People often speak colloquially or in idioms, as in: “This isn’t even in the ballpark” or “You’re beginning to sound like a broken record.” While you may be tempted to keep the exact language in the minutes to add color, resist.

Additionally, if any presentations are part of the meeting, do not include information from the Powerpoint in the minutes. However, you will want to record the key points from the post-presentation discussion.

9. Proofread with Care

Make sure that you spelled all names correctly, inserted the correct date of the meeting, and that your minutes read clearly.

Spell out acronyms the first time they’re used. Remember that the notes may be reviewed by others for whom the acronyms are unfamiliar. Stay consistent in headings, punctuation, and formatting. The minutes should be polished and professional.

10. Distribute Broadly

Once approved, email minutes to the full board — not just the attendees — for review. Your minutes will help keep those who were absent apprised of important actions and decisions.

At the start of the next meeting, call for the approval of the minutes. Note any revisions. Try to work out the agreed-upon changes in the meeting, so that you don’t spend a huge amount of time on revisions.

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Ask for a motion to approve the minutes with the agreed-upon changes. Once an attendee offers a motion, ask for another person in the meeting to “second” the motion. They say, “All approved.” Always ask if there is anyone who does not approve. Assuming not, then say: “The minutes from our last meeting are approved once the agreed-upon changes have been made.”

11. File Meticulously

Since minutes are a legal document, take care when filing them. Make sure the file name of the document is consistent with the file names of previously filed minutes.

Occasionally, members of the organization may want to review past minutes. Know where the minutes are filed!

One Caveat

In this day and age of high technology, you may ask yourself: Wouldn’t it be simpler to record the meeting? This depends on the protocols of the organization, but probably not.

Be sure to ask what the rules are at the organization where you are taking minutes. Remember that the minutes are a record of what was done at the meeting, not what was said at the meeting.

The minutes reflect decisions not discussions. In spite of their name, “minutes,” the minutes are not a minute-by-minute transcript.

Bottom Line

Becoming an expert minutes-taker requires a keen ear, a willingness to learn, and some practice, but by following these tips you will soon become proficient.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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