To me, it doesn’t matter whether you are a captain of industry or an artist, I believe that everyone benefits from thinking differently, thinking more creatively. As human beings, we have a built-in preference for the familiar, as the familar is the ‘high economy setting’ for brain processing resources. We have all found ourselves on ‘auto-pilot’ at times, I’m sure: driving back to the house where I used to live having moved weeks before was one of my textbook errors.
However, the cosy routines we make for ourselves aren’t terribly helpful when new challenges come up to deal with. I thought I’d devote the next few blog posts to ideas for breaking out of habitual ways of thinking and developing a more creative style.
The first characteristic that seems to distinguish creative people is that they often have a very wide range of interests and experience. The theory goes that the more diverse your individual ‘web’ of knowledge, the more connections you have to make and draw upon and the more possibilities you can envisage. The ability to generate numerous alternatives and silence the internal or external critic which keeps telling you ‘that’s not realistic’ before closing down on a particular solution is a key factor in creative thinking. Closing down your options too early can block a fruitful course of action, whether it’s a business scenario or a work of art. And if you happen to collaborate with a group of people with their own individual and wide-ranging webs of knowledge, just imagine the possibilities and multiply by a zillion. Hence the sudden surges of creative thinking that can emerge when a bunch of researchers meet up at the same university, or musicians hang out in the same town or city.
By living with the discomfort of ambiguity for a little while (and it can be very uncomfortable), you may just come up with a much better plan than you might have done by settling for speedy action and the way you’ve always done things.