Two ideas collided in my brain this morning. One is an idea from the wonderfully named Twyla Tharp’s book The Creative Habit which I am enjoying hugely. Tharp is a choreographer. She creates dances. But what she has learnt about creativity transfers to all fields, from business to baking cakes. She writes about the importance of being generous to others:

Be generous. I don’t use that word lightly. Generosity is luck going in the opposite direction, away from you. If you’re generous to someone, if you do something to help him out, you are in effect making him lucky. This is important. It’s like inviting yourself into a community of good fortune.

When I read these words, I thought of a generous, random act of kindness which had been brought to my attention by The Daughter. It’s an elaborate piece of improvisation that is hell-bent on making one small boy particularly lucky that day.


The self-help industry


I’ve just finished reading Guardian columnist Oliver Burkeman’s new book ‘Help! How to become slightly happier and get a bit more done’. If you are looking to scale Everest, leap tall buildings in a single bound or achieve world domination by the weekend, this is not the book for you. Continue reading

Life in the (visual) fast lane


A recent book review in Business Week of The Shallows by Norman Carr highlighted that changes in technology could be making us dumber. I confess I haven’t read the book (yet), but its headline message sounds alarming: Is the net fostering stupidity?

Carr argues that as our all singing, all dancing internet flashes and zips to get our attention, our brains fairly fry with all the distractions. Continue reading

Sustainable creativity


A couple of days ago, I was approached to review a new book by journalist Dan Matthews, The New Rules of Business (I’ll be posting it on Amazon in a couple of days). The book presents the stories of 36 entrepreneurs: some leading lights, others who haven’t been quite as successful. This morning, I read Matthews’ interview with Mark Constantine, the founder of Lush cosmetics – the bath product people whose powerfully scented shop in Gloucester induced an asthma attack in a friend of mine. (And she was just passing by, rather than actually in the store.)

Constantine argues that running a business is akin to their credo of being ‘green’ – cutting costs, eliminating waste, dropping energy bills, reducing packaging and insulating buildings. “All those things have an impact on the bottom line as well as the world around us.”

It occurred to me that maybe creative people need to think ‘green’ too. Continue reading

Ignore everybody


This is the title of a book by Hugh MacLeod. Actually, it’s Ignore Everybody and 39 other keys to creativity. I read it yesterday when some mystery illness rendered me incapable of getting out of my bed. By mid-afternoon, I needed to look at something else apart from my pillow and the inside of my eyelids. Hugh’s book fitted the bill. Continue reading

A cheeky little wine


“Our human brain has been designed to believe itself, wired so that prejudices feel like facts, opinions are indistinguishable from the actual sensation.” Jonah Lehrer, Proust was a Neuroscientist

Jonah Lehrer’s book is an impressive whistle-stop tour through the world of literature, art, music and even food. Lehrer argues that neuroscience is just catching up with the writers, composers and chefs he discusses. What they knew intuitively, neuroscientists are beginning to be able to confirm. Continue reading