Does Study Affect Your Creativity?

Success favors the prepared mind. – Louis Pasteur

Classroom with multicolor chairs

Where does creativity come from?  Some think it appears out of no where and some believe you are born creative.

Studies of highly creative people reveal that they nurture their creativity through a continuous quest for knowledge. Tony Buzan, one of the foremost creativity consultants in the world, defines creativity as ‘the degree of removal from the norm.’  Michael Gelb writes in Thinking for a Change that creativity is the result of a new combination of existing elements.  Combining these two ideas: to think outside the norm we must know more, coalesce the ideas, and produce new outcomes.

In conclusion, the more you know the more your capacity for creativity expands.




Wise Wednesday: The Joy of Creativity

Hand Heart at Sunset

I have read many creativity books over the years  Most recently I am reading Thinking for a Change: 11 ways Highly Successful People Approach Life and Work, John Maxwell shares 5 Ways to Discover the Joy of Creativity:
1) Remove creativity killers
2) Ask the right questions
3) Develop a creative environment
4) Spend time with creative people
5) Get out of your box

I am using Maxwell’s 5 Ways as a starting point and adding insights from my experiences.

Remove Creativity Killers
Years ago I read a great book titled: No Yes But’s, and Other Creativity Killers. The premise of the book was that when you respond to an idea with, “Yes, but…” you infer the original idea was ‘not good enough’ and are sure to discourage and stifle all creativity from that point forward.

Learn to Eliminate Discouraging comments like:

It is not logical
We’ve tried that before
It has never been done
It can’t be done
It’s too much work
Be serious
Be practical
There is only one way
Don’t ask questions

Ask the Right Questions

To stimulate creative thinking, ask yourself:
Why must it be done this way? What is the root problem? What are the underlying issues? Why is it important? What is the opposite? What happens if we do not do this at all?
“The uncreative mind can spot wrong answers, but it takes a creative mind to spot wrong questions.” – Sir Antony Jay, Management Trainer

Develop a Creative Environment

Encourages creativity
Places a high value on trust among team members and individuality Embraces those who are creative or different
Focuses on innovation, not just invention
Places high value on options
Willing to let people go outside the Lines
Values Dreamers

Also consider the physical environment: if you have white or gray all around you, perhaps you need to bring someone in to help set a more creative surrounding.  Put things on your desk that have color because color excites the brain for most people, it evokes feelings and associations and tends to spark creative thinking.  Place a few toys on your desk to play with when you need a brain break.

Spend Time with Creative People
Creativity is contagious!  And, personally, I believe it is FUN to hang around people who are creative.  They are unique in their thinking, dress, words, ideas and tend to get me out of my comfort zone because they think EXTRAordinarily.

Get Out of Your Box

The most effective way to help yourself to get out of the box is to expose yourself to new paradigms. One way we can do that is by traveling to new places. Explore other cultures, countries, and traditions. Find out how people very different from you live and think. Another way to get out of your box is to read books on new subjects.

Wise Wednesday: What Creative Thinking May Do for You

You can’t use up creativity.  The more you use, the more you have. — Maya Angelou

According to John Maxwell in Thinking for a Change, there are 5 specific things creative thinking has the potential to do for you:

1) Adds Value to Everything

2) Compounds into more creative thinking (given enough time and focus)

3) Draws People to You and Your Ideas – think about the Leonardo da Vinci effect: people are still talking about him 500 plus years later

4) Helps You Learn More – “Creativity is the joy of not knowing it all.” — Ernie Zelinski.  Creativity is having options

5) Challenges the Status Quo

Next Brain Byte we will look at some ideas on How To discover the joy of creative thinking.

Wise Wednesday Brain Byte: Linearity

Lines. Lines. And more lines.


Creative use of lines: A mini Frisbee golf basket

Linearity is a left brain cortical skill. Yet lines are commonly used by artists in brilliant fashion.

Wise-up Wednesday: Unblocking Creativity #2

Robert Epstein (1996) insists that no idea is new.  Well, even that idea is old since King Solomon said it thousands of years ago [Eccl 1:9]!  Epstein goes on to say all ideas build on previous knowledge.  He believes (as I do) that everyone can be creative and has outlined 4 reasons for most of our blocked creativity:

1)  Lack of method or habit for capturing creative ideas when they occur

2)  Reticence about taking on challenging, creative tasks that seem impossible or overwhelming

3)  Failure to learn any significantly new subject matter

4)  Living and working in environments that do not inspire

This Wise-up Wednesday we are tackling Creativity Blocker #2.

 Trying something new and far from the norm can seem risky. Risk taking can be scary!  What if I look like a fool?  What if my idea fails?  What are the risks [will I lose money, pride, friends, investors, etc]?  Trying something new does not have to be overwhelming. Put your plan on paper and include the “go for the gusto” dreams and then begin marking out reasonable and incremental steps to get you there.  The kind of steps that will not break the bank all at one time, you know – like what diversification is to stock brokers!  Essentially you have a long term goal or a GUSTO GOAL with baby steps to get you to the pot of gold. 

Don’t forget to celebrate the successes along the way at each incremental mark.  Don’t break the bank in rewards, but do pat yourself on the back and make it worth working toward the next incremental goal, as you work toward the GUSTO GOAL.

Wise-up Wednesday: Unblocking Creativity – Method One

Last Wednesday we looked at 4 reasons for most of our blocked creativity.  The next three weeks we will take each one of these and counteract them for creativity breakthrough.

The first creativity block is a lack of method or habit for capturing creative ideas when they occur.  

UNBlocking Solution #1:

1) Have a notepad or journal with yo all times (in your car, pocket/purse, day-planner, night stand)

2) Audio recorder – use your old tape recorder or your new smart phone and speak the raw thoughts as they come

3) Text yourself the ideas

4) Mind Map!!  I call this whole-brain writing because it captures key words as they come to you. 90% of what we write in linear fashion are filler words that are not mandatory for your brain to complete the thought….why waste valuable creative energy writing what is unnecessary when you are in idea-generation mode? Download a free trial of mapping software at or use your smart phone and try their free app.

5) If you use more than one method to capture creative thoughts, be sure that you have a way to link these so that you don’t lose any thoughts.  For example you have a notepad in your purse, but you switch purses and it gets locked in the closet and doesn’t make it to your laptop which has your Master Think-Tank document.

In conclusion, the first step to busting creativity-blockers is to capture the ideas before they are lost.

Wise-up Wednesday: Barriers to Creativity

Most of us long to be more creative.  And most of us have no idea what is holding us back from being more creative! Today we will address a few common creativity barriers.

Robert Epstein (1996) insists that no idea is new.  Well, even that idea is old since King Solomon said it thousands of years ago [Eccl 1:9]!  Epstein goes on to say all ideas build on previous knowledge.  He believes (as I do) that everyone can be creative and has outlined 4 reasons for most of our blocked creativity:

1)  Lack of method or habit for capturing creative ideas when they occur

2)  Reticence about taking on challenging, creative tasks that seem impossible or overwhelming

3)  Failure to learn any significantly new subject matter

4)  Living and working in environments that do not inspire

If you have been reading these posts for a while you may be making some correlations to ways of overcoming these obstacles.  But no worries if you have not kept up, next Wednesday we’ll take a look at these barriers and some possible solutions to get the creative juices flowing.

The Art of Learning

 “Principles for the Development of a Complete Mind: Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses – especially learn how to see.” – Leonardo da Vinci

Today art programs are the first to be cut from the program when money gets low.  And yet, we have known for years, in fact, even before the scientists officially came to such conclusions – that art is a mind-building endeavor!

Da Vinci was always experimenting, inventing, applying mathematics……….to his art!  Art is a whole brain activity.  See this post on the left and right cortical skills.

Our state has a wonderful activity called Art Prize located in Grand Rapids, Michigan for two weeks every fall.  I am heading there today to appreciate the talents, the labor and yes the fabulous creativity of artists from around the world.  The exhibits are located both inside and out throughout the town center and are voted on by the visitors.

Why don’t you get out and make some art or enjoy it?  For you parents, get out and gather some of the fall leaves and press them in wax paper.  For those without kids get to a museum or an art studio such as a clay works or painting.  Oh there are so so many more possibilities, but you can use your amazing brilliantly creative brain to cook up just the perfect artistic plan for your weekend!

Wise-up Wednesday: Creative Blocks

Creativity = the degree of removal from the norm

While most of us appreciate being recognized as creative; the majority of us do not want to be labeled as “odd”.  An oxymoron indeed! 🙂

Creativity causes inventors to create new and useful contraptions that make our life easier, more tasty, efficient, effective and so on.  Creativity can keep us from boredom and make life more colorful as in the example of an adventurous spouse who scopes out all the great places to snorkel in the Great Lakes (thanks, honey!).

So in order to think more creatively, it is important to identify your creative blocks.  According to Dr. Archibald D. Hart in the book Adrenaline and Stress these are the common blocks to creative thinking:

1) Fear of making mistakes

2) Self-doubt

3) Fear of the unknown

4) Taking things to seriously

So as Miss Frizzle of the Magic School Bus says, “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!”  Within reason, of course:  Make it legal, morally upright, and nothing life threatening, please! 

Please take a moment to share your creativity block and stop back by to comment when you have created something new: a new way of thinking; a new endeavor; a job change; etc.  Happy Creating!

Increase Creativity

Creativity is a desired result for most of us.  It is a myth that creativity is a right brain characteristic. Creativity is achieved through the increased use of both sides of your brain!

Engage more of your brain this weekend by pulling out an old board game, gathering people you love, or like, put out some healthy snacks and bloom your brain, body, and behaviors!

boardgames picture

Come back on Monday when I present the finale to Chameleons: Are You Who You SAY You Are?

“Who you are shouts so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

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