Mind Mapping & Creative Thinking

January 18, 2010

I want to be more creative…. how?

Filed under: Design Technology — Editor @ 6:55 am
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Would you like to be more creative in your life and work? It’s really not as hard or mysterious as you might think. We are ALL highly creative individuals, we are all naturally creative, but in many people creativity has been suppressed or squashed to make us conform to our education and learning systems.

One block that prevents many people from boosting their creativity is the notion that creativity is linked to intelligence. Another block is the idea that creative people are born that way.

However ee are ALL born creative, we have to be to survive. Children are naturally creative and learn through creativity, to a large degree, creativity is a learned behavior. It’s a matter of how you approach things, how you act or react to new circumstances, your proclivity to look at things in different ways, your willingness to question, experiment, and take chances. In other words, creativity is not “what you are” as much as “what you do.”

Think of creativity as a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets. To increase your creativity, you simply need to “act” like a creative person. Not surprisingly, people recognized as creative tend to share common traits.

This is so true, many adults will state quite firmly that they cannot draw, that they have never been able to draw. I disagree, everyone of us from every culture and background drew before they could write, it’s the natural step before writing. There is an innate desire and need to communicate, hence children drawing on any surface (sometimes inappropriate surfaces wall, doors, furniture, themselves, their siblings).

Highly creative people:

Have the COURAGE to try new things and risk failure. Every big breakthrough starts as a ‘harebrained’ or ‘what if?’ idea. This doesn’t mean you should constantly go off the deep end, just that you should balance your routine portfolio of solutions with an investment in the new and untried. Over time, the risk is usually worth the reward. We learn significantly from our mistakes and failures.

Use INTUITION as well as logic to make decisions and produce ideas. Gut instinct: will work? Don’t know but lets find out.

Like to PLAY, since humor and fun are the ultimate creative act. Which is to say you just have to lighten up. We all have goals, and quotas, and deadlines, but it’s not life and death. When you enjoy yourself, your brain relaxes and is able to produce more and better ideas. One of those ideas may be just what you’re looking for. This is why the likes of Google and other big corporates have introduced ‘play areas’ for their teams. A relaxed brain in a happy brain, which is a productive and creative brain. I recently did some work with the BBC Children’s department: they have an office space full of children’s toys, in fact it looked like a play group rather than an office. Why they toys? The staff writers and creative teams need to think like their prospective audiences.

Are EXPRESSIVE and willing to share what they feel and think, to be themselves. People are emotional creatures and respond better to people who appear real, honest, and open. Not only is it more interesting, it can also be more persuasive.

Can FIND ORDER in confusion and discover hidden meaning in information. Research and critical thinking are key tools for the creative person. Information is to the brain what food is to the stomach. So-called “writer’s block” or creative burnout almost always results from a lack of fresh information and having nothing meaningful to say. Mind Mapping can release the creative potential by allowing us to see the bigger picture and seeing links between areas and ideas, which may have remained hidden.

Are MOTIVATED BY A TASK rather than by external rewards. You must like the challenge of writing, explaining, teaching, and persuading. Become a fountain of ideas. Einstein and Edison both stated that they had more failures than successes, but with the failures they would not have had the success.

Have a need to FIND SOLUTIONS to challenging problems. Even the most creative people won’t have a solution for everything. If they claim to, they’ve stopped thinking. Highly creative people are those whose eyes light up at a question they can’t answer. That’s the opportunity to learn something new and produce remarkably creative content.

Will CHALLENGE ASSUMPTIONS and ask hard questions to discover what is real. Writing, blogging, or business rules aren’t really rules, only rules of thumb. If you want to wield true creative power, you will always take what others advise with a grain of salt. If you don’t know something from personal knowledge or experience, you don’t know it at all.

Can MAKE CONNECTIONS between old ideas to produce new insights. Combine the little doodles you make on a white board with online video and you get a new approach to explaining things to people in a way they can easily understand. Sometimes the best solutions are simply two old ideas combined together, often with unexpected results.

Will PUSH THE ENVELOPE in order to expand the boundaries of what is possible. Instead of dividing the world into the possible and impossible, it’s better to merely divide it into the tried and the untried. What have you not tried yet?

Are willing to TEST new ideas and compete with others based on results. Isn’t that what they mean by the “market of ideas”? Isn’t that what business competition is about? If you’re afraid of being wrong or losing, your creativity will suffer. There’s no right or wrong answer, there are better solutions and ideas, but everything has its place.

These are certainly uncommon traits for most people. But they’re not difficult. Watch how the creative people you know solve problems and deal with projects. You may choose one particularly creative person you admire and, when faced with a problem, ask yourself, “What would so-and-so do in this situation?”

As you begin to “act” like a creative person, you’ll find yourself actually becoming more and more creative. Result: more and more successful.

Based on an original blog post by Dean Rieck is a highly creative and successful direct marketing copywriter. Developed and commented on further by Tim Fulford January 2010.

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