Creativity is a phenomenon which enables us to delve into the deepest recess of our mind and fathom the unexplored realms of the human brain. It is the ability to indulge oneself in divergent thinking. Creativity is not about the obvious and the mundane, but it's about the best and the unique. All of us are born with a creative self, but as we grow and get used to living in this humdrum world, our creative potentialities get eroded. Our ability to see things differently gets swept away into oblivion. We need to constantly rejuvenate our creative self by trying to see things in a different way. Our Mind is like the clay on the potter's wheel. We can mould it according to our liking.
Thinking is something which is unique to human kind as we are blessed with cognitive abilities. Thinking creatively is an addendum to this wonderful faculty of the mind. Every single person, without exception, is creative. We all have talents and gifts beyond our wildest dreams. The latent forces burgeoning inside our mind, needs to be nurtured and brought to fruition. Creative thinking is nothing but giving ourselves time to think again about better way of doing things. The great management guru and progressive thinker Edward De Bono calls this as the "Creative Pause". This phenomenon should be part of our habitual thinking. Many great painters like Michelangelo and Salvador Dali never used to finish their work in one go. They used to leave it half finished and then give themselves enough time to cogitate on it. Many a times the entire work has been redone later, which went on to become masterpieces.
How can we improve our brain activity? To be creative, we first need to consistently work our brain. Scientists have time and again proven that an average human being uses only 1 % of his/her brain. The remaining 99% is left unexplored and unused. Most creative people show heightened brain activity in both sides of their brain. For the common man, the brain usage is restricted to either the left or the right side. Anderson Consulting Inc, arguably the numero uno consulting firm in the world, once conducted a survey to gauge the level of creativity in people. The tests were administered to some of the best brains in the software industry/ other multinational conglomerates. Astonishingly 90% failed in the test but many pre-schoolers were able to answer the questions correctly. The logical conclusion of this survey is that as we grow up we lose the ability to think creatively. As children we had no dearth for imagination. The effervescence, the ebullience, the brilliance of characterization that we possessed got replaced with nonchalance and impiety. We lost our innocence and with it our creativity too. If you ask anyone they would confess that their best days were the days they spent as kids. Why? Because that was the only time when we were really the kings of our own world.
Let us now try to analyze what actually spurs creativity in us. Though there is precarious erosion of our potential over the years, there are ways and means to invoke the latent forces in us and propitiate creative thinking.
Why Leonardo Da Vinci is still considered as one of the greatest minds ever to walk on this earth? Da Vinci lived in a time when every invention was a taboo. The church strongly opposed any slight deviation from the ordinary. The people were forced into straitjacket thinking. As a consequence, the best minds restrained themselves from questioning and confined themselves to plebeian ways. Creativity, in any form, was snubbed. But Leonardo was a genius who consciously believed in excelling not only in a single knowledge domain but in a holistic way so that one can lead an excellent life.
It means much more than intellectual achievement and connotes full realization of human potential in every manner. He had the uncanny knack to think differently, quite tangentially to the mundane, conventional constrained thinking. In the book "How to think like Leonardo Da Vinci" by Michael Gelb, he describes the 7 key areas that shaped Leonardo's genius as follows.
* Curiosita - An insatiably curious approach to life and an unrelenting quest for continuous learning.
* Dimostrazione - A commitment to test knowledge through experience, persistence and a willingness to learn from mistakes.
* Senzasione - The continual refinement of the senses, especially the sight, as the means to enliven experience.
* Sfumato - A willingness to embrace ambiguity, paradox and uncertainty
* Arte/ Scienza - The development of the balance between science and art and logic and imagination. Whole brain thinking.
* Corporalita - The cultivation of grace, ambidexterity (the ability to use both hands equally for doing things) , fitness and poise.
* Connessione - A recognition of and a appreciation for the interconnectedness of all things and phenomena. Systemic thinking.
Fear of Failure is one of the greatest hindrances to creativity. The thought that we will fail in something which we are doing erodes the creativity in us. We end up doing something else, which was totally unintended. If we are passionate about our work, then failure has got no value in the canvass of our lives. Edison failed more than 1000 times when he tried to invent the electric bulb. But the passion in him and the indubitable self belief propelled him to keep on trying until he succeeded. Einstein could not even speak until he was four years old. Sir Issac Newton did very poorly in school and was often tagged as "unpromising". A newspaper editor fired and demeaned Walt Disney telling that he lacked imagination and original ideas. Despite these imperfections these wonderful minds went on to make history. Failures are often the stepping stone to success. We need to first believe in ourselves and then somewhere along the road of life we will meet someone who will realize our potential and our greatness.
Aristotle once rightly said "The secret of success is to know something which nobody else does".
There is a famous Hollywood movie "Dead Poets Society" which portrays the life of a radical Professor in Harvard, Mr Keating. He revolutionized the way poetry was being taught in Harvard. He inspired 100s of students to think for themselves and come out with their own observations on the poetry rather than curtailing their imagination to the already printed anecdote. The first thing that he did was he instructed all the students to tear off the pages which had the anecdotes /meanings to the poetry. Then he made each one of them to write / speak about the poem using their own imagination. The majority in that class later pursued creative careers and became very successful in their lives.
Creativity is all about passion and an urge to know more about anything that catches our attention. It is not about orderliness but rather about disorderliness. We cannot be creative by being meticulous and structured in our approach. There should not be any restrictions to our imagination. In USA there is a famous "Creative Writers Forum" where they teach and educate people to write creatively. The forum speaks about the 10 rules which need to be followed to instigate our creative prowess. On the final day of the workshop, they teach the students the 11th rule, which is to break all the 10 rules which they have learnt.
To be creative, we need to first unlearn the gibberish information stored in us. Ignorance is bliss and from there sprouts creativity. See the world in wonderment and awe, as if you are seeing it for the first time. The musings will flow automatically.
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