Work and leisure are going through digitalization at an accelerating rate, with services drifting inevitably into the virtual clouds. The latest thing grows old at an unprecedented pace nowadays, and we may have to refocus our vision and even our overall strategy to ensure success and prosperity! Creative practices can keep us involved in change.
Creativity takes off when the mind is relaxed and we forget our fears. True vision inspires creativity, responding to the “what” question while creativity tackles the “how” aspect. Even strategy applies no brakes to creativity as long as it is internalised and calls for no special consideration that disrupts the creative process.
Creativity is ideally a means of saving time, trouble and resources, but is it also a risk factor? And what happens if our enthusiasm for creativity leads us away from our chosen strategic direction? Will creativity stall if we impose constraints?
Fear constrains creativity in brainstorming
Maybe instead of limits, we should talk about boundlessness. Out-of-the-box no longer suffices, as evolution has led us beyond boundary games. Many brainstorming sessions provide mediocre outcomes because we deliberately ignore the most outlandish ideas. Consensus is a comfortable refuge when we are rushed and under severe economic and human capacity constraints, and disengagement is a terrifying prospect, as pioneering ideas can easily cause a burdensome domino effect where even the follow-up processes have to be created again.
Many people withhold their ideas out of sheer insecurity, as subconscious fears constrain individual creativity despite the determination to brainstorm freely. We pale at the thought of making mistakes and suffering criticism.
Many good ideas have emerged when cooling off after a strenuous workout or stepping outside to clear the head. The wilder the weather, the more inspiring may be the ideas that emerge, especially when we are alone and incommunicado with all senses enhanced in the Great Outdoors where creativity can often take flight.
The most valuable insights bubble up to the conscious mind when they are least expected, with solutions sometimes emerging from sustained subconscious processing. This is grounded in thorough study, and perhaps new learning, with options examined from various points of view. The best ideas arise somewhere in the subconscious hinterland between the rational conscious mind and the intuition. Reliance on intuition is heightened particularly when our normal information is inadequate.
“Many people withhold their ideas out of sheer insecurity…”
Doctoral candidate Asta Raami studied this phenomenon in her thesis Intuition unleashed, which was examined this year at Aalto University. She stresses that intuition “is an important form of cognition that we all need in everyday life, but is particularly vital in complex cognitive functions such as visualisation, creativity and problem solving. Many designers, artists and researchers even find that intuition is a key element in the creative process.” Although she has studied intuition primarily as part of the creative work of designers, Raami nevertheless suggests that her findings are also useful in other disciplines such as leadership and education.
Intuitive or not, the most creative solution often arises from a domain of active thinking where determined effort takes a break and almost surrenders. Whether we are inventing the aeroplane, the zip fastener or the combine harvester, we have to be willing to go a little crazy.
“What’s the real source of these insights?”
The subconscious is a treasury of everything that has been said, heard and done, and a repository of acquired knowledge and wisdom. It provides an index for registering everything that happens in the surroundings, so it’s important to choose the billboards that we read, to consider how we spend our leisure time, and to pay attention to the company in which we nurture our mental faculties. A subconscious mind that develops in a world of high quality entertainment, timeless wisdom and inspiring company can be expected to yield brilliant insights.
Trust is the key to the subconscious
Insights begin bubbling to the surface when we assume and have faith that they will, and it’s important to note them down when they come to mind.
Here are some tips for tuning your receiver into the right wavelength for insights:
- Start your morning in a calm frame of mind. Don’t attack the new day, but accept it with dignity. It’s enough to spend a few minutes breathing calmly and stretching your limbs. Drink a glass of water before getting started in earnest.
- Eat a wide variety of foods, and allow time for breakfast and lunch. Food is what builds us, including our brain matter, and there is no hope of brilliant insights without sustenance. Be sure to get plenty of vegetables, especially the dark green leafy varieties, together with berries, fruits, seed, nuts, etc. The brain also requires high quality natural oils, so be sure to include organic cold-pressed olive oil, coconut oil and other good fats in your diet.
- Relieve stress by exercising and getting out in the fresh air. A workout will release feel-good hormones and help you to relax.
- Exercise your creativity. Ask yourself what you would do now if you were not a responsible adult. Bring out your inner child whenever you can.
- Get a good night’s sleep that allows your subconscious to do its job.
Success in business has always depended on creativity, and the demands are getting tougher all the time as we move towards an increasingly digitalized world. With no way to reverse this trend, it is worthwhile nurturing creativity as a way of life.