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.




Your Stressed Brain and Learning

Rule #8 of John Medina’s Brain Rules: Stressed brains don’t learn the same way.


Emotional stress causes us to lack focus and inhibits our ability to retain information. This impacts kids’ school work and employee’s productivity.

The body’s defense system releases adrenaline and cortisol in immediate response to a serious but passing danger, such as a oncoming car in your lane. If you are facing hostility at home or work on a regular basis or YOU are the one with raging anger daily – your body deregulates a system which was created to deal with short-term responses.  This becomes dangerous to your health.

Chronic stress produces adrenaline which creates scars in your blood vessels that can cause a heart attack or stroke, and cortisol damages the cells of the hippocampus, crippling your ability to learn and remember information that may be crucial to your success.

Wise Wednesday Brain Byte: Listen to Learn


Common sense tells us that we learn more by listening than by speaking.  However, we all know someone who spends more time speaking than seeking.

Speakers share knowledge; seekers soak-in knowledge.  While it is good to do both, you will have the ability to share so much more when you spend time listening to learn from those who have gone before you.

True learners make a conscious effort to soak in as much knowledge from other’s life experiences, wisdom, and advice as possible by tuning in their ears to what is spoken, tapering the desire to dominate the conversation.

Listen to Learn.

Learn to Listen.

The way of a fool seems right to him but a wise man listens to advice.      Proverbs 12:15 NIV

Brain Breaks for Better Brainpower

Phrenology1Recall during learning dramatically falls when a brain is not expected to get a break from information gathering for hours at a time.

The optimal time spent learning something new is twenty to fifty minutes.  After this, do your brain the favor of a break and it will return the favor by increasing your ability to assimilate and recall the information you are learning.

When you take a break, get up and walk around to get the oxygen flowing and to give your body a new position to relieve any tension from sitting or standing.

Break for five to fifteen minutes.  Less than five minutes is not enough time for your brain to get the relief it requires and more than fifteen minutes is so long that you begin to move away from short term recollection of what you were learning.

At work you are not always learning something new, but it will benefit your brain to break at least twice during the day for some well needed physical movement.  This helps your brain to refocus when you return and perhaps even create a little more enjoyment to your job than just sitting still for hours without a fresh view.

Brain Byte: You Have Unlimited Brain Potential. How Much Do You Use?


Pyotr Anokhin of Moscow University published research in 1968 which demonstrated that the minimum number of potential thought patterns the average brain can make is the number 1 followed by 10.5 million kilometers of type written zeros.

That is virtually an infinite amount of thought capacity!  Our brain is incredibly synergistic.  Each brain cell can connect with up to ten thousand other brain cells in a single instant.

The Greatest brains use measurably more of their brains than the average.  According to Tony Buzan and Raymond Keene (world chess champion) in The Book of Genius, the top ten greatest brains of all time are:

10.  Albert Einstein

9.  Phidias (architect of Athens)

8.  Alexander the Great

7.  Thomas Jefferson

6.  Sir Isaac Newton

5.  Michelangelo

4.  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

3.  The Great Pyramid Builders

2. William Shakespeare

1. Leonardo da Vinci

Buzan and Keene rated their subjects in categories including Originality, Versatility, Dominance-in-Field, Universality-of-Vision, and Strength and Energy.

Wise-up Wednesday: The Link Between the Art of Juggling Balls and Tasks


Juggling is a task most people believe they cannot accomplish.  It seems so complicated or athletic or requires too much coordination.

I have watched many men and women give it a go real time in the Radiant Learning workshops I conduct.  Many will even say out loud, “I can’t juggle!”  Many make pitiful attempts and either laugh, cry (not really), or get frustrated.  Those who are most frustrated are those who thought they could juggle, even though they did not have a clue HOW to juggle.  There is a process to follow that ensures success over time with practice and process improvement.

Often times we take on tasks the way we take on those juggling balls for the first time.  We pick up so many tasks but are not certain what order to start them.  Sometimes we take them as we get them rather than stepping back to evaluate the best process. Which task is most important? Which requires the most time?

Just as there is a simple pattern (process) and rhythm to the art of juggling balls, there is also a process and rhythm with tasks.  Learn to apply the art of juggling to your everyday.

A great resource from my mentor and creator of Mind Maps, Tony Buzan, is the book Lessons from the Art of Juggling: How to Achieve Your Full Potential in Business, Learning, and Life. 

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!

A Lesson in Form


Form is the foundation to nearly any sport.

It has been about a decade since I played tennis and nearly three decades since I played somewhat serious tennis on the Junior Varsity team at my high school.  My oldest son decided to give this sport a try this year and it inspired my husband and I to pick up some racquets and get back onto the court.  I learned something about myself:  I still have the same bad tennis habits I had in tenth grade!

The problem is that I am so focused on the ball and my desire to hit it, that I skip over the important step of positioning my body.  This inevitably means that I hit the ball, but it will not make it over the net or within the boundaries.  I can still see myself on the court and hearing my coach tell me to get ‘behind the ball’.

It was a great reminder to me of the utter importance of “process” in learning.

When I teach people to juggle I do not allow them to catch the balls for many, many cycles.  This is because we have a tendency to focus on results more than process.  In the case of juggling we think only of catching rather than throwing.  If your throw is bad – you cannot catch the ball.  If I can get individuals to focus on the process of throwing, the catching will be easy.  I decided to execute this advice on the tennis court, instead of concentrating on hitting the ball, I will concentrate on being in the right position, even if I miss the ball at first.  My swing is pretty good, so I don’t have to work on that so much right now.

If I focus on proper form and position; hitting the ball will be easy.  If I focus on swing at the expense of form and position – the game is lost.

Where do you need to re-evaluate your form versus focusing on bottom-line results?  Remember results will come.  However, contrary to what you have been told, practice does not make perfect………

Perfect practice makes perfect.

Wise Up Wednesday Brain Byte

Band State Competition7 2011


Rhythm is a fantastic way to improve memory.  Consider the nursery songs you learned when you were young, you do not have to look up the lyrics.  Somehow you just remember those words for decades to come.

Have you ever used a song to memorize important facts for a test? 

I learned a useful little ditty to memorize the continents and oceans:

Adding rhythm aids our memory and makes learning more enjoyable!

Great Things are Waiting Just Outside Your Comfort Zone

July Aug 2012 022

Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. John 13:17 NIV

The June 8 entry in My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers writes, “If you do not cut the moorings, God will have to break them by a storm and send you out.”

He continues to challenge us that when you have an impression from the Holy Spirit to do a thing, do not delay, but act immediately.  “Revise where you have become stodgy spiritually, and you will find it goes back to a point where there was something you knew you should do, but you did not do it because there seemed no immediate call to, and now you have no perception, no discernment; at a time of crisis you are spiritually distracted instead of spiritually self-possessed. It is a dangerous thing to refuse to go on knowing.”

When a ship cuts the moorings and sets sail: the preparations are made to leave the comfort of the harbor.  The sailing “stretch zone” is one that includes many possible variables, such as high winds and waves, rain, pirates, mechanical troubles; calm seas, new horizons, the glorious beauty of magnificent sunrises and sunsets, grand sea creatures such as whales or dolphins, and the satisfaction of charting and navigating the sea successfully.

There are also perils that come to those moored in the harbor, yet the tendency is to be so entrenched in the “comfort zone” we are unprepared due to a false sense of security.  When we are anchored in the comfort zone and trying circumstances come along without warning, it has the tendency to launch us straight past the “stretch zone” and into the “stress zone”.  This is an area where we are paralyzed by fear, usually unable to effectively respond to the change that left us here.

Oswald Chambers reminds us that a continual grounding in the Word of God and a practice of being led by His Holy Spirit will guide us safely through all manners of waters.  Therefore, when God says, “Go”, you will best off making no delay, step out of the comfort zone and into the stretch zone! Neuroscientists claim this is the most effective place for learning.

I am still haunted by a memory of the time I was jogging around the lake, and I came upon a man walking.  It was unusual for me to pass anyone this early in the morning and I had never seen this person before.  I had a profound urge to tell him “Jesus loves you.”  This seemed so awkward and so out of the ordinary that I remember having the dialogue with myself, “that seems too wierd and feels really uncomfortable, he will think I am a wacko.” A matter of seconds later, we had crossed ways, he heading west and I east. 

I knew afterward that what I had experienced was the prompting of the Holy Spirit.  God wanted me to obey immediately.  I wrestled with regret at first: what if this man was suicidal and I was supposed to give him hope?  Many scenarios went through my mind.  Then I was reminded of God’s promises, the purposes of the Lord always prevail.  In other words, although I had missed an opportunity to be used by the Lord, this man was not beyond God’s reach.  I learned through this experience when I have a strong prompting which honors God and aligns with His Word: I will be blessed by immediately obeying and not allowing my flesh to talk me out of it!

Let us choose this day to live with no regrets:                                            Immediate obedience leads to future fulfillment.

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