"I didn't want to do this, you know. I wanted to be a lumberjack!." -Monty Python, from: And Now for Something Completely Different
Why don't we "think something different" more often? There are several main reasons. The first is that we don't need to be creative for most of what we do. We don't need to be creative when we're driving on the freeway, or riding in an elevator, or waiting in line at a grocery store. For most of our activities, these routines are indispensable. Without them, our lives would be in chaos, and we wouldn't get much accomplished. If you got up this morning and started contemplating the bristles on your toothbrush or questioning the meaning of toast, you probably wouldn't make it to work. Staying on routine thought paths enables us to do the many things we need to do without having to think about them.
Another reason we're not more creative is that we haven't been taught to be. Much of our educational system is an elaborate game of "guess what the teacher is thinking." Many of us have been taught that the best ideas are in someone else's head.
There are times, however, when you need to be creative and generate new ways to accomplish your objectives. When this happens, your own belief systems may prevent you from doing so. Here we come to a third reason why we don't "think something different" more often. Most of us have certain attitudes that lock our thinking into the status quo and keep us thinking "more of the same." These attitudes are necessary for most of what we do, but they get in the way when we're trying to be creative.
I call these attitudes "mental locks." There are ten mental locks in particular that I've found to be especially hazardous to our thinking:
1. The Right Answer
2. That's Not Logical
3. Follow the Rules
4. Be Practical
5. Play Is Frivolous
6. That's Not My Area
7. Don't Be Foolish
8. Avoid Ambiguity
9. To Err Is Wrong
10. I'm Not Creative
As you can well imagine, it's difficult to get your creative juices flowing if you're always being practical, following the rules, afraid to make mistakes, or under the influence of any other mental lock.
So, how do we open these mental locks?
Without the ability to temporarily forget what we know, our minds remain cluttered with ready-made answers, and we never have an opportunity to ask the questions that lead off the beaten path in new directions. Since the attitudes that create mental locks have all been learned, one key to opening them is to temporarily unlearn them - to empty our mental cup.
We all need an occasional "whack on the side of the head" to shake us out of routine patterns, to force us to re-think our problems, and to stimulate us to ask the questions that may lead to other right answers.
"Whacks" come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. They have one thing in common, however. They force you – at least for the moment – "to think something different." Sometimes you'll get whacked by a problem or a failure. Sometimes it'll be the result of a joke or a paradox. And sometimes it will be a surprise or an unexpected situation that whacks you.
Those ideas or situations that cause you to get off your routine paths and "think something different" are whacks to your thinking. Sometimes getting a whack on the side of the head can be the best thing to happen to you. It might help you spot a potential problem before it arises. It could help you discover an opportunity that wasn’t previously apparent. Or, it could help you generate some new ideas.
Mental locks can be opened in one of two ways. The first technique is to become aware of them, and then to temporarily forget them when you are trying to generate new ideas. If that doesn't work, maybe you need a "whack on the side of the head". That should dislodge the presuppositions that hold the locks in place.
A Whack on the Side of the Head
Roger von Oech
What Makes a Person Creative?
"Creativity is the power to connect the seemingly unconnected." -William Plomer
What makes a person creative? Basically nine similarities are found in creative people. On knowing these details, one could understand themselves and enhance their creativity by acquiring the necessary skills.
The nine common qualities are:
1) Inherited Sensitivity: A propensity for a greater sensitivity to certain types of experience- mathematical, artistic, musical, mechanical and literary. This appears to be well established by studies of families who exhibit high creativity in certain fields over generations.
2) Early Training: The creative person more likely than not, had his childhood in a home atmosphere that encouraged, rather than discouraged, inquisitiveness.
3) Liberal Education: The creative person is more likely to express his creativity if he is exposed to teachers and curricula that place a premium upon questions rather than answers, and which reward curiosity rather than learning by rote and conformity.
4) Asymmetrical ways of thought: The creative person finds an original kind of order in disorder; it is as if he is staring at the reflection of nature in a distorted mirror, where "ordinary" people are able only to see the image in a plain paper.
5) Personal Courage: The creative person is not afraid of failure or of being laughed at.
6) Sustained Curiosity: The creative person never stops asking questions.
7) Not Time bound: Morning, noon, night are all the same to the creative person. He does not work by clock.
8) Dedication: The creative person has an unswerving desire to do something, whatever it may be and whatever the obstacles to doing it.
9) Willingness to work: The creative person is constantly working for a solution.
Except the first two qualities, all the other seven can be acquired by practice of sheer willingness. By developing them, you can unlock your potential. You can bring out all the treasure hidden inside and can enhance your creative power.
"Standing still is the fastest way of moving backwards in a rapidly changing world.
Imagination is the highest kite one can fly" -Lauren Bacall
Sparks of creativity often flow from new knowledge. Frequently it's information about things that are completely new to you. Sometimes, it's new facts about familiar things. And sometimes it's information about things that you didn't know you didn't know. This last category, usually filled with items that are silly and fanciful, can provide a platform for your imagination to jump from.
So here I present the: "Things you didn't know you didn't know" section.
(or the alternately titled: "Trivia to win bar bets" section).
Why Do Birds Usually Take Flight Against the Wind?
Nancy Martin, naturalist at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science, points out that, given the constraints of runway design, airplane pilots prefer to take off against the wind as well. And for the same reason: It facilitates lift because of increased air speed. Martin elaborates: "Birds' wings are structured like an airfoil and so work best with air flowing from front to back. Also, feathers are arranged to overlap like shingles to aid in smooth air flow-taking off with the wind ruffling up the feathers from behind creates a lot of useless turbulence.
Janet Hinshaw, librarian at the Wilson Ornithological Society at the University of Michigan, adds that birds with disproportionately heavy bodies for the size of their wings would probably take off against the wind more consistently-as they can use all the lift they can get.
How Does Aspirin Find A Headache? – An Imponderable Book