Hands Holding a Creative License and Paintbrushes

Renew Your Creative License

Creativity seems like a magical talent bestowed upon a few. In reality, we all have the capacity to be creative. As kids we can’t help but view the world with a naive and curious mind. We explore, connect dots and fail repeatedly. We play pretend and dream big. But slowly we begin to tell ourselves we can’t draw, or sing or dance as well as others. We retreat from what is fun, gravitate to being like everyone else and choose the safe route.

Mind Tricks

We are taught there are left brain and right brain thinkers. While the left brain controls our language, creativity comes from both sides of the brain. Neuroscience has studied the brains of rappers and found that a default mode (think subconscious) and executive control network work in tandem from all parts of the brain. Is there a gene that determines creativity? Perhaps no more than the ability to build muscle or play the piano. This stuff takes work and conditioning!

Creative Conditioning

The Default Mode is where your brain daydreams and creates free associations. To activate it you can use the Timothy Leary mantra ”turn on, tune in, drop out” – minus the LSD. We need to take a break from the routine of meetings and sitting in front of a screen so our minds can tune in and turn on. Novel ideas are more inclined to happen when we aren’t expecting them. Try some of these ideas to get the juices flowing:

  1. Take a Hike! Walk, run, etc. Get the blood flowing.
  2. See the World. Getting out of our home and visiting other people and places expands the mind.
  3. Sleep it off. Subliminal thinking whether from a nap, rest or deep sleep can solve problems.
  4. Weave baskets. Taking up a new hobby can get your mind working in new ways. Our senior digital designer, Diane McGirr, has taken up making figurines out of needle felt and polymer.
  5. Never Stop Learning. Learning new things expands our understanding of the world.
  6. Talk to Strangers. We all assume we see the world in a similar way—we don’t!
  7. Multitask. Some of the best visions, theories and inventions have emerged while someone was taking a shower, commuting to work, working out or cooking dinner. When our mind is already in a default mode, we can activate free associations.

Make sure you capture these ideas! While we are sure we won’t forget our brilliant idea, in today’s world of constant interruptions, it’s all too easy to forget.. Try to jot your thoughts down somewhere—a napkin, envelope, dedicated sketchbook—whatever you have accessible. If you don’t have that nearby, try the Notes app on your smartphone.

Become Your Own Skeptic

After you’ve spat out some crazy ideas, come back later when you can switch to that Executive Control hat. Your job now is to filter out what will and won’t work. This is where you enable the skeptic mind. Question your original hypotheses and probe for answers. Having a restless and questioning mind will help focus your attention and improve the idea further. If you have any doubt about your executive skills, shop your idea around. Ask your coworkers, neighbors or mother what they think. Try to find an audience that is closest to the audience your idea is meant for.

Take Time to Create

Time to make these dreams a reality! Give yourself space and time to develop and execute your ideas. If you can’t do it all on your own, find a good partner to help!