Intellectual Life
5 Habits to Master Your Creativity
03May 2016
2
comments

Written by Lifebook Team Member, John Vieceli

“We are creating our lives every day, and yet we don’t think of it as being “creative” in the traditional sense. However, if you don’t look at your life as a creative act, then you’re not going to view yourself as someone who needs to invent it in a really thoughtful and interesting way. I think it is extremely important that people believe they have the power to creatively reinvent the world and their lives.
— Dr. Seelig’s TEDxStanford talk: A Crash Course in Creativity

People always say to me, “You are so creative. I wish I were that creative.” It makes me cringe when I hear those words because I believe that everyone is creative. We have to keep in mind that creativity is not the same as being artistic. These are often confused. Creativity is nothing more than a thinking process. It is the same thinking process we all used in the creation of our Lifebooks, so if you have a Lifebook, you ARE creative.

When people ask me how they can be more creative, I usually break the answer into two parts: skills and process. Before I go any further,  I want to emphasize that you do not become more creative. You have to choose to be more creative. It takes conscious effort. Creativity is all about mindset and effort. If you do not have the desire to be creative, you will not be. If you do not believe you are creative, you won’t be.

Okay, you have made the choice to be more creative. In part 1, I am going to discuss the essential skills you’ll need to cultivate.

5 Essential Skills to Cultivate Your Creativity

1. Capture and Collect

You need to pay attention to ideas and then have a way to capture ideas as they occur to you. You never know when the next great idea will hit you. I capture everything because I have no idea when or how I will use these ideas in the future. It’s been my experience that even the craziest idea can sometimes be quite valuable later. Another reason for capturing is I know once the idea disappears it is almost impossible to retrieve it. In the past, I would carry a notebook and a pen everywhere I went but today I use my Samsung Note 3 and Evernote exclusively. I can capture pictures and articles. I often create audio notes to myself if I’m trying to think through a problem. I tag everything I save and then use the search feature within Evernote. Evernote has optical character recognition, so images are searchable as well.

2. See The Connections

You’ve heard the phrase, “there are no new ideas just combinations of old ones.” Ideas emerge from the interconnection of things. New information your brain takes in can be juxtaposed or contrasted with the information and experiences you already have. By finding new sequences or making new connections can turn out to be interesting and valuable. Steve Jobs said, “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a  while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was  that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people. Unfortunately, that’s too rare a  commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse  experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up  with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.”

Jobs is correct, having diverse experiences are crucial when it comes to “seeing the connections.” However, it’s not just about the experience itself. Scott Barry Kaufman, the scientific director of the Imagination Institute in the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, co-authored a book called, “Wired to Create.” He writes, “My data so far suggests ‘openness to experience’ is the number one thing to cultivate for both personal, meaningful creativity and world changing creativity. What that means is always challenging yourself beyond your comfort zone, constantly questioning assumptions, being intellectually curious, and appreciating beauty. Personal growth is intimately tied to openness to experience.”

Curiosity is a great way to discover connections. I read to my son Wyatt every night. His go-to book is Curious George. Every story starts out, “This is George. He is very curious.” Wyatt stops me every time and asks, “Daddy what is curious?” I stopped giving him the definition after the first 50 times he asked. I now show him how to be curious.

Curious for me takes many forms. If I am driving someplace I try to take a different route. Sure there are times I get lost, and the 15-minute trip takes me an hour, but I’ve seen the most incredible sunsets, found the best dive restaurants and discovered hidden running paths.

I’ve also found travel to be the best way to open yourself to experiences. There is nothing more challenging than going to a foreign country and immersing yourself in the culture.

3. Expand Your Circle

The more interesting and diverse your knowledge, the more interesting and potentially valuable the interconnections that can occur.

Here’s a question:

Imagine two rooms. Your goal is to create a unique piece of art.

The first room has a canvas and acrylic paint.
The second room has a canvas, acrylic paint, watercolors, oils, clay, charcoal, drawing paper, brushes, crayons, colored pencils, wood, metal, and glue.

Which room do you select?

I think the obvious choice is the second room because you have more tools to work with.

Your mind is at its creative best when it has more tools to work with. The tools in your mind are a combination of memories, everything you have ever learned, every moment of every experience.

I remember in my first job out of college, I was asked to develop concepts for a large corporation specializing in plant genetics. After several days of brainstorming, I didn’t have anything that I thought  solved the communication problem. The creative director asked to see my concepts. After presenting my loose ideas, I admitted I was struggling. He gave me some advice that I use to this day. He said, “When you are having a hard time coming up with ideas often its because you don’t have enough information. In this case, I needed to go back and do a little more research on genetics.

4. Get Comfortable With Failure

Christoph, the famous sculptor who is famous for wrapping structures says, “Failure is a critical mechanism in creativity – the less afraid we are of it, the more we can learn from it.”

Learning to fail is the most essential skill of the four, and I think the reason why people never fully flex their creative muscles. In college, you learn failure through design critiques. For example, after working for a week on a problem, you would have to hang your work on the wall for all to see and comment. Some teachers would verbally humiliate students. Some teachers would just rip work off the wall and throw it on the floor without saying a word. The process is intimidating, but you learn two things. First, you quickly see how well your ideas stack up against the rest of the class, and secondly, you learn that you are not your work and that the critique is about learning how to improve your idea.

I look at failure as part of my design process. I cannot get to that great idea without generating awful ideas and a lot of them. Stephan Sagmeister, a famous graphic designer said, “It is crucial to embrace failure and to do a lot of stuff — as much stuff as possible — with as little fear as possible. It’s much, much better to wind up with a lot of crap having tried it than to overthink in the beginning and not do it.”

A lot of crap is exactly what I produce when I’m working on a project. When I say crap I’m talking about an incomplete idea or one that isn’t fully formed but to me, I see something that is less than perfect because Perfection is the enemy. Perfect kills the idea in the early stages.

When I’m working on ideas, I am always editing and refining. I have a dialog in my head that goes something like this…“Wait that doesn’t work. Yes, there is something there. What if I did this? I like this part. Let me explore that direction.”

I am discarding ideas, adding in elements which drive the idea in a different direction. I am very comfortable with failure because I see myself separate from my work. I see the work as a solution to a problem, and I just want to get the best solution to that problem.

Luis von Ahn, co-founder and current CEO of Duolingo, a language learning platform says, “The [common trait in] people that we have noticed are best at learning a language is that they have no trouble sounding stupid.” The same applies to the best creatives. They have no problem showing their work and having the possibility of looking stupid.

5. Find Your Creative Recipe

You have to put yourself in the best position to be creative. I read an article about 20 years ago on the topic of creativity. The author was talking about being aware of those times when you were the most creative. Write down everything about that moment. What music was playing? Where you were, even what was on your desk. The idea was to recreate that moment hoping you will get the same result. The author was on to something back then. Thanks to advances in neuroscience we now understand this a little better.

There is a recipe for putting yourself into that creative state. Here is my recipe when I need to be creative. First, I need to move. That means getting in the car, the train or on my bike. Second, I slap on the headphones, listen to music and soon after the ideas come pouring in.

So why does this work for me and how did I discover it? It has to do with your brain waves and how you perceive the world. And that is the topic of part 2.

More…

12 Creative Rituals You Should Definitely Steal
04Aug 2015
0
comments

“Creativity is just connecting things.  When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it; they just saw something and connected the dots.  It seemed obvious to them after a while.”
―Steve Jobs

Benjamin Franklin ended every day by asking, “What good have I done today?” Maya Angelou wrote only in tiny hotel rooms. Jack Kerouac had to touch the ground nine times before sitting down to write.

Habitual creativity doesn’t come from a flash of brilliance or a single overwhelming moment of inspiration. As Pablo Picasso said, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” Creativity comes from a consistent routine that serves as a foundation for getting things done.

Below are some inspiring rituals from successful people who have the “creative habit” down. More…

EXERCISE does more to boost thinking than THINKING does
02Jun 2015
0
comments

We’re all aware of the groundbreaking evidence neuroscientists and physiologists have been gathering on the incredibly beneficial relationship between exercise and brainpower.

But new findings are making it clear that this isn’t just A relationship – it’s THE relationship…

And it could be the key to fully unlocking your intellectual potential.

In just the past few months, using sophisticated technologies to examine the inner workings of neurons and the makeup of brain matter, scientists have discovered that exercise helps to literally BUILD a brain that resists physical shrinkage and enhance cognitive flexibility, even with age.

It’s becoming clear that EXERCISE does more to boost thinking than THINKING does.

How can exercising build brainpower in ways that thinking can’t? More…

Expand Your Self-Awareness: A 2-Week Sentence Completion Program (FREE)
15Dec 2014
1
comments

Back by popular demand, Lifebook is featuring one of our all-time favorite practices in awareness…

Dr. Nathaniel Branden’s 2-week Sentence Completion Program (FREE).

Click here to download the document now.

Increase self-awareness and improve your self-esteem in just 2 short weeks with Dr. Nathaniel Branden’s free transformational sentence completion program.

Sentence completion is easy – you receive a handful of unfinished sentences, and you complete them yourself to deepen your awareness.

Sentence-completion work is a deceptively simple, yet uniquely powerful tool for raising consciousness, self-understanding, self-esteem, and personal effectiveness.

It rests on the premise that all of us have more knowledge than we are normally aware of, more wisdom than we use, more potential than typically shows up in our behavior. Sentence completion is a tool for accessing and activating these “hidden resources.”

And that is exactly what Lifebook Member Dr. Nathaniel Branden helps us do with his transformational 2-week sentence completion program.

Click here to download the document now.

The Power And Beauty Of The Human Mind: An Interview With Dr. Patrick Gentempo
21Oct 2014
0
comments

Explore one of the most underestimated, and underappreciated areas of the human experience in this thought-provoking interview about the power and beauty of the human mind.

Join Jon in his audio interview with Dr. Patrick Gentempo (founder of Chiropractic Leadership Alliance, Creating Wellness Alliance, and most recently, a company called Action Potentials), and stimulate your thinking in this vital area of your life.

Click here to listen to the interview now.

Laura Silva: The things that matter most…
21Oct 2014
0
comments

“Everything we do at Silva is about manifesting the life of your design – and Lifebook helped me place my focus and attention on the things that matter most to me.”
-Laura Silva

As the President of Silva International, Laura aggressively pursues new research into the fields of human potential, empowerment, and intuition. Listen to Lifebook’s audio interview of Laura today to discover the most effective strategies for achieving any vision…

Click here to listen to the audio now.

Peace Of Mind
03May 2011

Peace Of Mind

Written by

2
comments

Written By Lifebook Member Laurie Gentempo

My Intellectual Life was the category in which I broke through to understanding consciousness as it applies to EVERYTHING we do and as it is vital to creating everything in our lives. I wanted to master living consciously because my mind was filled with so much noise (or lack of clarity). A typical morning looked like chaos and reaction to a day of activities. My mode of operation was reacting to my commitments.  Over committing was a common theme.  There seemed to be many layers between what I truly wanted and what WAS.  This was the result of not having put clear thinking and planning into my life, or my daily habits. There were a couple of practices that I chose to create in order to turn things around.   More…

The Power of Ten
28Jan 2011
2
comments

Okay, so it may be a quirky video from the 1980’s, but if you can get past the eccentric music and the fuzziness of the film it WON’T disappoint.

Take this mind-altering journey to the known edge of our external and internal universe with this short film that deals with the relative size of things, and the effect of adding another zero… More…

7 Steps to Conscious Creativity
27Jan 2011
3
comments

Break out of your established patterns, illuminate your life with imagination, and look at your world in whole new ways. These 7 steps are sure to get your creative juices flowing!

1.  Seek Variety

“Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns
in order to look at things in a different way.”
-Edward de Bono

“Variety is the spice of life.”  Shaking things up can expand your perspective, allowing you to experience things in an entirely new way.  For many people, new experiences are an ultimate source for creativity.  Fresh perspectives open your mind, leaving plenty of room for creation.  So go on… give your days some flavor.

More…

Why Travel Will Make You Smarter
22Aug 2010
0
comments

J&M ParthenonJanuary 14, 2010. 3:30 PM. Kuching, Malaysia – Missy and I just boarded a local flight bound for the rainforests near Kota Kinabalu, Borneo. Our plane took off in the sheets of torrential rainfall that typify the monsoon season in this part of the world. It seems like a good, sturdy vessel, so we recline our seats a bit and relax. Now, gently floating above the clouds together, warm coffee in our hands, we turn our attention to one of our favorite subjects of all time; exploring the world in which we live.

Jon and Missyon boat We begin by reflecting on how excited we are to finally experience Borneo. It’s been on our “travel hit-list” for a very long time. We’ve spent a great deal of time in Indonesia; Java, Bali, Lombok, Sumba… But Borneo is different than the other islands. It’s one of the least explored places on earth. More…