Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Imaginative Mind

An imaginative mind is one that can visualize beyond direct input and one that can explore things outside of the immediate reality and vicinity.

Initializing Thoughts
Our thoughts are nearly continuous and tuning in to them can be done specifically for creative juices. Often we suppress our own ideas or thoughts in a split second without ever letting it surface to a voice or considered item. We often put a validation screen on our thoughts and bias everything we let surface by the judgments we assign or expect others to assign to that thought.

This limits our mental creativity and kills a thought that would otherwise become the start of a great associative linking of thoughts and advanced creativity. We need to let any thought be developed and explored as our mind makes the neural connections and associations with more and more thoughts. This can happen in moments or it may take hours but it most imaginative if you let a thought continue to build and linger, don’t dismiss it or kill it on purpose. Ever.

Brainstorming at its best means that anything thought of on a given topic is valid. Anything goes. Any idea is considered no matter how obscure or off-base it may first seem to the logical mind. Logic is often the nemesis of creativity as we tend to judge our ideas and thoughts the moment they begin and we simply don’t give our imaginative mind a chance to develop them.

# Explore as many possibilities as you can

# Any idea is worth exploring at least for a short time
# Sometimes you need to give ideas time and let the subconscious work away

Outside the Box
The other effect our logical mind has is to keep us bounded into what seems reasonable. This unfortunately has a very negative consequence on our imagination as its very difficult to explore outside this box of reason or box of logic. The logical mind is bounded by what we know as well so anything outside this box is suppressed by any logic at first consideration. It’s important to get by this and let the creativity and idea be unbounded and originated from well outside the box.

The imagination is an amazing thing and you can certainly allow it to take hold of you in
visualizing, day dreaming or full on dreaming. We’ve all experienced the power of the mind’s creativity in dreams and its possible to enable that same creativity in waking life if it’s practiced and repeated instead of suppressed. Let your mind wander, have fun with it, just imagine what that seemingly crazy idea might actually be like if you explore it further in your mind.

Contributing to Creativity
There are a number of ways to contribute to social creativity. The ones I think have the biggest impact are the following:

# Eliminate Criticism and Complaining
Criticism and complaining are really the quickest things that kill creativity. Criticism can emotionally shut down a person so quickly that the only creative thoughts they will have is of escape or revenge. It is something that naturally transforms our minds into a completely new state unless we learn to handle criticism and control our response and state of mind consciously.

The best thing you can do with these items to contribute more to social creativity is to eliminate criticism of others, of ideas and of actions. The same goes for complaining since it encourages a very negative thought process not helpful in activating the imagination in any way. Obviously eliminating these is not easy, but they can certainly be reduced and they can definitely be done in private at least in order to minimize the influence to any audience available.

# Brainstorming
Brainstorming in a group activates the imagination of the whole group and quickly allows ideas to germinate with each other and spread between everyone’s minds. It can be done as a group on purpose with a specific topic or goal in mind or it can happen through other media with no initial intention of doing it!

# Asking Questions – Question everything
Questions come about from curiosity and of course curiosity broods creativity. Therefore, questions are a powerful action to contribute more to creativity as well. Everything a person questions, they can learn from and gain some kind of insight from. Questions about how and why something is how it is, leads to seeing more pieces of any puzzle and that puts the mind into a state where it has to think beyond the logic to imagine the solution before all the pieces are understood.

Questions are a huge part of a healthy learning process and they will trigger the mind to explore and wonder with curiosity at things. Questioning the things around you has other benefits as well, it is a useful tool to expand your relationships as well. This is because it shows curiosity to another person.

# Avoid Perfectionism
Perfectionism slows down any creative process and it quickly strangles any new ideas from emerging as it keeps the attention on an original subject or topic while it is closely scrutinized and perfected. There is some room to explore perfecting something with a creative look, but it is usually too focused on one thing where new ideas have no place to be explored until the first topic or item is first perfected.

The Perato principle is useful with social creativity as well and that is where you apply the 80/20 rule. Perfectionist try to get things to that 100% level and they spend most of their time and effort making very little progress once past that 80% point.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Now Discover Your Strengths

The Big Idea
Have you ever wondered why today's organizations concentrate on rectifying your weaknesses? What makes weaknesses so interesting? Have you ever wondered what would happen if, instead of correcting your weaknesses, you capitalized on your strengths?

Organizations spend millions of dollars every year trying to unlock weaknesses, calling them "areas of opportunity," trying to minimize them. Can you imagine what would happen if today's organizations focused on building each of their employees' strengths? Have you ever wondered how much value can be created in an organization where each employee did what he does best?

Strong Lives Many ordinary and extraordinary people are seemingly gifted with strong lives. They are active and passionate about their work. They are successful in their chosen fields and roles, without seeming to try too hard. How do they do it?

The answer may lie in the fact that these people have, to quote the authors, "identified in themselves some recurring patterns of behavior and then figured out a way to develop these patterns into genuine and productive strengths." By "strength," we mean an activity that one executes consistently, near perfectly.

Three revolutionary tools have been found to help in building a strong life:

1. Understanding how to distinguish natural talent from things you can learn. Talents are your naturally occurring patterns of thought, feeling and behavior. Knowledge consists of facts and lessons learned. Skills are the steps of an activity. These three combine to create your strengths but none of them can substitute for the other. Of these, talent is the most important. Without a natural talent for an activity, you might enjoy some level of success but you are probably not going to excel. In the same vein, knowing your talents but not polishing them via learning more (knowledge) or practice (skills) isn't likely to lead you to excellence, either. It would be good advice for you to discover your dominant talents and then find a way to acquire the knowledge and skills you would need to refine them.

2. Creating a system to identify your dominant talents. The search for your talents must be one that is focused and persistent. You will need to step back and watch yourself, finding out more about how you react naturally to situations or circumstances. Take up a new sport and see how you like it. Engage in new activities and determine if you are inspired by them. It is possible that you'll find some activities boring or unimportant. This is normal and you must continue trying others until you discover your dominant talents. The Strengths Finder profile in Chapter 4 will assist you in this search but it will not define you completely. You must lead the search for your own talents.

3. Having a common language to describe your talents. What need, you might ask, would you have for a language that will describe your talents? We need one because the language for strengths is limited. Because of our interest in weaknesses and frailties, we have come up with a varied language that will describe weaknesses, its stems, its solutions, etc., but we have failed to create one for strengths. What exactly do you mean when you say that a person is self-motivated? What do you mean by people-skills? Why do we use negative connotations for talents? We call people inclined to action impulsive. We call people who claim excellence egotists. People who anticipate problems are called worriers. For these examples and many more, we obviously don't have a language that can describe talents and strengths well enough.

This article is based on the following book:

Now, Discover Your Strengths
By Marcus Buckingham & Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D.
ISBN 0 7432 0114 0