Can We Increase Our Creativity?

Posted on February 12, 2015 by Dr. Lynda

What are the patterns of thinking that generate more creativity and, therefore, opportunity? Can we nurture them in ourselves? We can!

Image: Set of stairs going 4 ways on a beautiful grassy hill
Source: PIXABAY

More than a century ago, the great mind behind the invention of vaccinations and pasteurization said:

 “Chance favors only the prepared mind.”

  • Louis Pasteur

What does that quote mean to you?

Today we’re going to attempt to answer that questions with two videos by Mr. Steven Johnson, both of which are titled Where good ideas come from. 

Let’s start with something my daughter Louisa and I utilize often to visualize new ideas and thought patterns: it’s called a “mind map.” This short video is a wonder!

Then we’ll follow that with Johnson’s TED Talk from TEDGlobal 2010 which is an expansion of the short piece and more: a load of great, often counter-intuitive, insights for us.

Let’s get started!

Here’s Steve Johnson’s discussion on creativity and connection, visualized perfectly by way of a great mind map…

Nice, huh?

I can recommend watching that video a few time. There’s so much there that I missed the first time through. I’ve been through it three times already, and each time I learn something new.

But the biggest takeaway from the mind map seems to be the idea that we need to really mingle, reach out, and connect on a deeper level to launch our own hunches into breakthroughs.

Image: Girl jumping with the saying "Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor."
Source: PERSONAL EXELLENCE

As a simple look at history would tell us plainly, people do seem to succeed in groups. It sounds like we should take some steps to increase the collision of hunches and ideas, maybe surround ourselves with smart people who might add their hunches with our hunches.

In researching today’s article, we started to really ponder the phrase “you become who you hang out with.”

What if we were to substitute the word “connected” for “prepared” in that Louis Pasteur quote?

Who are you and I connecting to these days? Will they add to our hunches and ideas, or shoot them down?

Something to think about!

Next up, as promised, Mr. Johnson’s mind map version of Where good ideas come from is also a highly decorated TED Talk from July 2010. Let’s delve even deeper into the idea of connecting for creativity. Here are some real, usable tools.

Via: TED 2

Lovely!… I’ll be searching out opportunities to ask someone “What do you think?” more often today!

Here’s another Dr. Lynda insight that comes to mind: When I ask someone “What do you think?”, instead of listening to respond next, I’ll listen to understand,.. that’s two distinctly different ways of listening. My patients have taught me that important lesson over the years.

If I listen to understand, the right diagnosis pops into my mind with remarkable clarity. Whereas, if Iisten while getting my next comment ready, I’ll miss something key and I’ll have to take the long way around to get at a diagnosis.

Image: Birds flying in a huge, harmonious flock
Source: EN.WIKIPEDIA.ORG

I guess Mr. Johnson’s absolutely right! When I let their ideas percolate through my own hunches, the answers come quickly.

Here’s a little personal story of just such an occasion, when chance favored my prepared mind and the result is the website you are on right now:

In 2014 I was getting overwhelmed by the negativity of the 24-hour news cycle, while at the same time I found myself wishing there was something I could do about it. (Call me crazy: I was a dentist, mother, and artist. What could I bring to solving that problem?) As the months rolled by I had confidence that a creative idea would come my way if I was open and patient.

Then one, day out of the blue, when I was sitting in a coffee shop with a young man who was helping me sort out my computer problems, I asked him, “Do you think you could build me a website?” Frankly, I don’t even remember where the question came from. He said, “You know, I think I can!” And you are now enjoying the project that was launched that day!

Image: Two people having coffee

There was a lot of “prepared mind” energy coming from both of us: he was desperate to get off unemployment benefits and I was desperate to change the world. Who knew that combination would have promise!?

We had nothing in common except the fact that we were both nice, optimistic people, with the skills to make this website a reality.

In fact, our paths initially crossed in a small beauty parlor when he was an out-of-work IT man recovering from a drug problem. No telling what he thought of me, 50-something in a shower cap with brown hair dye dripping down my forehead.

But we were drawn together by some odd connection that we established that day, and both open-minded enough to see that if we could get past our differences on the surface, we could make the most of our strengths and weaknesses, meshing them perfectly.

Image: Young people in dark glasses questioning things

Who might you connect with today, if you push past your first impulse to stay quiet, sit by yourself, or cancel that meeting?

Connect with those you think you might have nothing in common with. Be the first to start a conversation. Listen much better.

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Stay open, curious and hopeful. Have a great day!

~ Dr. Lynda