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Unleash your creative potential

When we think of creativity, we think of Mozart, Picasso, Einstein-people with a seemingly fated convergence of talent and opportunity. It's too narrow a set of references, because the truth is that all sorts of people, possessing various levels of intelligence and natural ability, are capable of engaging in fulfilling creative processes.


Think of your creative muscle. To get the most from this muscle, you must exercise it

Some do so every day. Vikum Manawadu noticed that his three kids rarely drove the expensive battery-powered toy car he had bought them for Christmas because it was always out of juice. One afternoon he spotted a broken solar-powered garden lamp in a junkyard sale and took off its panels. He hooked them to the toy-car battery, using parts he melted off the lamp's circuit board. Now the car, left to bake in the sun all day, is always ready for joyrides.

The heart of all new creative ideas lies inthe borrowing, adding, combiningor modifying of old ones. Do it byaccident and people call you lucky! Do it by design and they'll call youcreative.

Theproblem is to understand and utilize the processes that allow us todo it most efficiently and effectively.

Michael Le Boeuf, American business author and former management professor, in his book 'How to Profit from your Creative Power' says that the act of developing new ideas involves some five steps.

(1) Insight

You have a problem you want to solve or an activityyou want to do - you want a better job, the house needs redecorating, your company produces awaste material you would like toturn into a profitable by-product. All of these are examples of firstinsight.

(2) Preparation

Now you investigate all the possible ways in which this germinal idea can be developed. Get as much information asyou can about the subject, read, take notes, talk to others, ask questions, and collect information. Be receptive to your own senses. Picasso once remarked, "The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place; from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider's web." These ideas form a springboard for launching our own imaginations.

(3) Incubation

Now let your sub-conscious take over. Take a walk, take a nap, take a bath, work on another project or hobby or sleep on it. As author Edna Ferber, the Pulitzer Prize-winneronce noted, "A story must simmer in its own juice for months or even years before it's ready to serve."

(4) Illumination

This is the climax of the creative process. An insight pops into the mind, and suddenly everything falls into place. Charles Darwin gathered information for his theory of evolution. Then one day when he was riding in his carriage, it all came together. "I remember," Darwin wrote, "the very spot in the road when to my joy the solution occurred to me." Illumination is the most exciting and joyous phase of the creative process.

Verification

Yet for all of its wondrous insights, illumination can be terribly unreliable. Intellect andjudgment are brought into play,and your hunches and inspirationsare logically confirmed or denied.You back off and look at your ideasas objectively as possible.

You solicit the opinion of others. You revise your good ideas to make them better and often come up with new and better insights in the process.To sum up: the key to understanding the creative cycle is to realise that there are five distinct phases.

There is the initial desire to create, followed by a lengthy period of investigating and information gathering.

Then there is the period of incubation where the subconscious takes over. This gives rise to the moment of illumination when the results of the subconscious efforts surface. And finally, there is a period of refining and verifying the ideas created.

Incentive

Certain conditions and attitudes can result in understanding how your creative abilities work. Above all, you must give yourself an incentive.


Early in the morning, spend some time searching for innovatve ideas.
You may run into something that inspires you. - images courtesy Google

What's in it for you? A new and better career? A promotion? Self-satisfaction? The best ideas often come from those hungry for success. Thomas Edison motivated himself through an insatiable urge to make money tocontinue his work.

Even after becoming a millionaire, he was once heard to remark, "Anything that won't sell, I don't want to invent." In addition to giving yourself an incentive, you must also create a sense of urgency.

There is a natural tendency to procrastinate in all of us. Create the necessary pressure by giving yourself reasonable but challenging deadlines for coming up with new ideas. Then, be sure to stick to them.

Creative thinkers have come up with numerous practical devices for stimulating and capturing new ideas. Here are two of their techniques:

Checklists - Make a list of verbs such as magnify, minify, substitute, rearrange, reverse and combine. Try to apply each of these verbs to the problem at hand.Attribute-listing is another check list technique. For example, consider the screwdriver. It has the following attributes: it is round; steel shafted; wooden handled; with a wedge-shaped tip, and it is manually operated, by twisting.

To design a better screwdriver, you then focus on each attribute separately and ask: Could the round shaft be made hexagonal so that a wrench could be used for turning with greater torque? What if we remove the wooden handle and design the shaft to fit an electric drill? What if we make several interchangeable shafts for different sized screws? The basic premise ofattribute-listing is to look at each component and ask, "Why doesthis have to be this way?" Thisbreaks down unconscious conceptual assumptions.

Since there's absolutely no way to predict when a great idea is likely to pop into your mind, be prepared at all times with a note pad, or better still, you may use your smart phone app to jot it down.

Have a central place, named idea bank, to store ideas related to a particular subject. Then, when you get ready to start some seriousimagination, you'll have a number of previous ideas to get you started.

Remember, almost every innovation came about because a determined person stubbornly believed in his or her imagination. Trust yourself.

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