4 Ways to Pump UP Your Creativity

By: Kathy Shalhoub for nabbesh.com blog

There’s no arguing about it, whether it’s in arts or sciences some people are exceptionally creative and shine above the rest of us. But does that mean we aren’t or can’t be creative?

While it’s still not clear in what proportions of genetic, social, economic and luck ingredients the creative soup is made of, scientists have picked out some key elements that have been proven to boost creativity.

  1. Keep an open mind:

    When I say an open mind, I mean one that is guided by the least amount of rules, inhibited by the least amount of restrictions, and confined by the least mental constraints. If you’re looking for a creative solution to a problem, try to suspend your knowledge and experience momentarily and look at your problem from the perspective of a novice, you just might surprise yourself.

  2. Thought Control:

    This is the second critical stage of creative thought when you have all your new and interesting and crazy ideas on the table and you’re not sure which ones will work. This is the phase where you want all systems on and ready to go. Now you need to put what you know in practice for the evaluation process.

  3. Mental push-ups:

    We’ve all heard it, creativity is like a muscle, and the more it works the stronger it gets. Before you need to get creative, try some of these useful mental pushups:

    • Think of 6 alternative ways to use common objects in a few minutes.
    • Describe objects in unusual ways that are not relating to their function.
    • Perform common tasks in the wrong order.
    • Deliberately let your mind wander to completely unrelated things.
  4. Keep your distance:

    Funnily enough, thinking about the physical place of a problem can help or stop you from solving it! Imagining a problem or a challenge far away from you in space (put your problems in Australia!) or in time (send them to the year 2098) can actually promote innovation and problem solving.

Being creative is great, but psychologist Evangelia Chrysikou of the University of Kansas affirms that no matter how creative and innovative your thoughts are, the most important factor inhibiting success, the one that stops you the most from capitalizing on your creative potential is the fear of risk, “People tend toward safe routes, yet safety is not conducive to radical new solutions.”

It’s been said: The essential part of creativity is not being afraid to fail. –Edwin Land, co-founder of the Polaroid Corporation

These tips have been inspired by Evangelia Chrysikou’s ‘Your Creative Brain at work” article in the July/August edition of Scientific American Brain. Love that magazine!

nabbesh.com; Empowering people to do what they love, from anywhere.

Blogger’s Bio: Kathy studied engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Paris. She is also a writer and published her first book, Life as a Leb-neh Lover, in 2010. Kathy is fascinated by matters of the mind, self discovery, self acceptance and personal development and is currently researching these topics. Check out her blog, ‘like’ her on Facebook or follow her on twitter @Lebneh_Lover.

Can Networking Bring You Your Next Big Idea?

By: Kathy Shalhoub

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I wanted to talk about networking today. I did a Google search and found tons of secrets, tips, steps and tricks on how to effectively network. But what’s the point of networking in the first place? Where or what is it meant to get you?

Amidst the many pearls of wisdom provided, networking was said to be important in:

  • Finding a job
  • Developing industry links
  • Keeping abreast of news, events and opportunities
  • Growing your business
  • Bringing in clients

And I’m sure there are many other good reasons that in theory, can help improve your work life tremendously. Strangely, though, none of them listed networking as a means of improving your creativity and your innovative potential.

One website said that Attending networking events can be a big boon to your business, or a huge waste of your time.’ But here’s the thing, networking is NEVER a waste of time, and the advantages reach so much further than just where your next client is going to come from. It’s where your next idea is going to come from!

A scientist interviewing a group of entrepreneurs from Stanford (766 of them!) found that their network of friends generally consisted of people who came from the same place and did the same thing as them. BUT they also found that a small subset of these entrepreneurs had a very large network of casual acquaintances.

Instead of going to an event to network, these business people were making new and unexpected connections with different people all the time! They were chatting with strangers in coffee shops and making small talk with street cleaners, they made conversation with people at train stops and regularly spoke to acquaintances at work.

So what’s the big deal? It was this exact group that was THREE TIMES more innovative that the people with a small network of close friends. While it was thought that people were born with creativity, scientists are now finding that being in the right place and doing the right thing are actually more important factors than what you were born with!

Why are people with many casual connections so much more ‘creative’ than those with a few close friends? It turns out that the innovation in people doesn’t happen when we’re alone, it happens when we’re surrounded with collections of acquaintances who inspire novel thoughts in us.

Here’s how it works. Think about it, if you’re surrounded by the same people who think like you do (and generally you are, because that’s our natural psychological tendency!) then the ideas and thoughts you’re exchanging are more similar than not. When you step out of your comfort zone and make contact, connections, with people from all walks of life, with people who think, feel, see and do things very differently than you, your brain has to work so much harder to understand them, categorize them, and to find a common thread between them. In doing so, it takes leaps that it may not have taken otherwise, and at some point presents you with a little nugget of creativity that you transform into something new, innovative and inspiring.

For me, networking is a lot of effort, it’s stressful and I often wonder how to make an impression, how to make a connection, what to talk about. But when I think of it as simply making connections and exchanging ideas, suddenly it’s so much easier and less daunting. And yes, suddenly I have so many more ideas flying around in my head.

Give it a try and tell me what you think!

For more detailed information, read Imagine by Jonah Lehrer, in particular, the chapter on Urban Friction.

Blogger’s Bio: Kathy studied engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Paris. She is also a writer and published her first book, Life as a Leb-neh Lover, in 2010. Kathy is fascinated by matters of the mind, self discovery, self acceptance and personal development and is currently researching these topics. Check out her blog, ‘like’ her on Facebook or follow her on twitter @Lebneh_Lover.

Creativity: That Elusive Element

By: Kathy Shalhoub

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Have you ever wondered if you’re creative or not? Do you have that spark in you? Take my creativity test and you’ll know for sure.

Answer the following questions with Yes or No.

  1. Are you human?
  2. Do you have a brain?
  3. Do you live around people?

If you answered yes to all the questions above then, congratulations, you are creative!

See I don’t believe that anyone is born with that something special and elusive we all call creativity. I used to think so but not anymore. I used to think that either you had it or you didn’t. And if you had it, well lucky you, because it sure wasn’t lucky me.

Until one day an artist friend (who I thought was incredibly creative!) took a look at things I was writing, things I was cooking, things I was thinking about and went: Wow! You’re so creative.

I said: what me?! Don’t be silly!

Then when it kept happening I thought, Oh my God, I’m creative!!! When did this happen?

So I realized that if even I had some shards of creativity inside me, it must exist in everyone! Science has finally caught up with me and proven it.

In the book Imagine: How Creativity Works, Jonah Lehrer tells us that science has now pinpointed creativity to a tiny fold of tissue in the brain called the anterior superior temporal gyrus that becomes very active just seconds before an epiphany.

So what brings about these moments of ‘epiphany’ that we call creativity? Apparently, something as simple as a casual conversation can lead you to unexpected ideas, and something as outrageous as criticism that challenges your thoughts or ideas can force you to seek alternate paths, and therefore make you more creative.

Have you ever noticed that ‘creative’ people are often disorganized, do a million things at once and yes, procrastinate endlessly? Well it seems that interruptions are not that terrible after all (see my previous post on Procrastination) and being excellent at focusing is not that useful when you’re being creative. A British scientist has shown that it is those very interruptions that give our mind the mental pause it needs to notice a stray thought or random insight and bring it to your attention.

If you want to try being more creative, consider sitting outside by the ocean or painting your room blue since a study shows that this color helps stimulate our imagination. Talk to people, tell them about your ideas, have them challenge you. Try doing things differently, get out of your comfort zone, eat a banana upside down or walk through the city if you normally drive. Welcome interruptions, take breaks from your focus group, turn your brainstorming session into a critique session, don’t give up hope when you get stuck. Just take a break and give your anterior superior temporal gyrus the chance to work on things for you!

Blogger’s Bio: Kathy studied engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Paris. She is also a writer and published her first book, Life as a Leb-neh Lover, in 2010. Kathy is fascinated by matters of the mind, self discovery, self acceptance and personal development and is currently researching these topics. Check out her blog, ‘like’ her on Facebook or follow her on twitter @Lebneh_Lover.