Becoming a Better Creative Thinker

Creative Thinking

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Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes


Explorations into Creativity

Creativity is the hidden capacity to think about ourselves, others, objects, events and circumstances in original and unique ways. It helps us overcome great odds, problems and challenges that might be standing in the way of the success we desire to achieve.

Creativity is indeed a powerful and yet somewhat mystical ability that brings with it a vast array of opportunities and skills that enhance and better our lives. With it, we can move mountains, part oceans and attain the heights of success. Without it, the challenges of life become more difficult and arduous to bear.

Our discussion today will focus on identifying and heightening creativity in order to allow us to further our success in any field of endeavor. We will break down our capacity as creative individuals while expanding on the concept of creativity and analyzing the effect it has on a variety of different and seemingly disconnected aspects of our lives.

We will also delve into the mind of a creative genius — taking a look at the indispensable characteristics, belief systems, self-talk and the actions that creative people cultivate on a daily basis. In addition to this, we will analyze a collection of common creativity roadblocks that can sabotage the creative process. And to conclude our discussion we will break down some creativity enhancing strategies that will help promote and stimulate creative thought for academic, business, career and life success.

This article post is part of the Effective Thinking series of IQ Matrix maps that are designed to help you successfully deal with the problems and challenges confronting your reality. Topics within this series include:

• Part 1: Strategic Questions
• Part 2: Creative Thinking
• Part 3: Problem Solving
• Part 4: Critical Thinking
• Part 5: Six Thinking Hats


Unlocking Your Creative Genius Capacity

Our creative ability is very difficult to measure because it can manifest in so many surprising and unexpected ways.

As we go about our daily lives, our creativity comes to the forefront to assist us with overcoming the problems and challenges that bring excitement and new experiences into our reality. Every time we successfully break through these obstacles we grow and expand our awareness about ourselves, others, circumstances and the world around us.

Within this section we will delve into the dramatic influence that our creative capacity has on our quality of life and daily undertakings. We will look at evolution of creativity and how it grows and develops through childhood and eventually begins to decline as we grow older and supposedly wiser. Finally, we will touch upon the concept of creative inspiration, and pinpoint some methods that will help you to identify your bursts of creativity.


Our Creative Capacity has a Wide Circle of Influence

I feel that as a society we underestimate the value that our creative capacity has on a variety of different aspects of our lives. In fact, our creative capacity is so far-reaching that you could come to the conclusion that the quality of our lives is basically determined by the quality of our creative thinking. Let’s take a look at this in a little more detail.

Creativity Shapes Academic Success

Your creative capacity shapes your academic success.

There is no doubt that at school our logical intelligence is looked upon with high regard. The better you are able to remember key concepts, ideas and make sense of the information you are learning, the higher grades you will achieve.

In the classroom, creativity is in fact as important if not more important than your intellectual capacity. Your intellect might help you to understand key concepts and ideas, however it is your creative capacity that will help you to think outside-the-box in unorthodox ways — allowing you to learn more effectively, efficiently and flexibly at the same time.

Intellectuals are somewhat like computer programs that are fed information and data. On the other hand, creative individuals shift, change, expand, and alter this data in unique ways that help boost their effectiveness and efficiency as learners.

To put it another way, an intellectual will follow the instructions of the book to the letter without wavering or making a mistake. However, a creative individual will come up with brilliant ideas and methods that will help them to improve their speed of learning, reading, comprehension and proficiency. Yes, they might make mistakes along the way, but that’s okay, because creativity is often born from a willingness to make a mistake.

Creativity Influences Career Advancement

Your creative capacity influences how quickly you will advance your way up the career ladder.

Almost anyone with a passion for something, can learn and develop the skills to become proficient and reliable. Companies like to hire these types of people because they have a good sound knowledge-base and understanding of their work responsibilities. However, in order to advance up the career ladder it takes a little more than a solid base of knowledge and experience.

Climbing the career ladder requires the creative capacity to think outside-the-box about methods, tactics and strategies that will improve efficiency, effectiveness, grow profits, and enhance customer loyalty.

It doesn’t really matter where you are currently positioned within your company. If you develop enough creative momentum you can climb the corporate ladder in very quick succession with only a few groundbreaking creative ideas.

Creativity Determines Quality of Life

Your creative capacity determines the quality of your life.

The success you experience within any area of your life is based upon the flexibility of thought you use to overcome life’s daily challenges.

Your happiness is likewise a direct reflection of the fulfillment and satisfaction you obtain from attaining your life’s goals and ambitions, and therefore is based on your ability to overcome challenges successfully.

Creativity Determines Quality of Thinking and Idea Generation

Your creative capacity determines the quality of your thinking.

Our whole lives are built upon the foundations of idea generation. The more creative ideas we are able to generate that will help us get what we want most in life, then the more of what we want we will have.

The greater the creative capacity we cultivate and grow within ourselves, the better our ability to expand our understanding and awareness about everything that life throws our way.

Creativity Determines What we have Access to

Your creative capacity determines your access to information, opportunities and resources.

As we expand our minds and begin thinking outside-the-box, we start to understand and comprehend things from unique angles and perspectives. As a result, this naturally brings forth into our field of awareness new pieces of information, unexpected realizations and opportunities that were previously hidden from view.

Creativity Determines Our Intrinsic Ability

Your creative capacity determines your intrinsic ability to learn and effectively overcome problems that confront your daily reality.

It’s universally understood that people will not always agree, that things will not always go as planned, and that unexpected surprises may be hidden behind every corner. Given this, we must learn to adapt and adjust our daily habits of behavior in ways that will get us what we want most despite the challenges and obstacles in our way.

Adaptation requires a period of learning and adjustment that can only come through creative thought. Hence, the more creative we are while tackling life’s daily problems, the faster we will learn and master the challenges that life throws our way.


Evolution of Creativity through Childhood

Science has shown that we are all indeed born with the capacity to think creatively. However, over time this capacity seems to diminish and decline. Why is that? Are we doing something that naturally pushes our creative self-expression out of our daily lives? Or is it something that is done to us by others? Let’s take a look at this in a little more detail:

Expansion of Creativity through Pre-School

For most of us, pre-school was a place where we predominantly had fun and played games. Yes of course, it was also a place for learning, however the learning didn’t seem difficult or arduous because we were always entertained and involved within a myriad of activities that got our creative juices flowing.

At pre-school we also tended not to suffer from the stress, anxiety and overwhelm that riddles our life experience today. Why is that?

Maybe it was because we had a childlike approach to every new sensory learning experience. Or maybe it was the encouragement, support and freedom for creative self-expression that brought about our stress-free existence.

Decline of Creativity through High School

When we reach high school we suddenly find our creative capacity squashed against a wall of criticism, judgment and punishment.

One of the biggest drawbacks of our current high school education system is in its inability to help students develop and expand on their creative capacity.

Within the high school system students are punished for their mistakes, they are judged for their thinking and processing of information, and they are criticized for their weaknesses. All of this leads to a stressful learning environment that predominantly provides group attention and limits learning to only the visual and auditory sensory organs.

Psychological studies have revealed that during pre-school 9 out of every 10 kids show a capacity for creative thought. However, as they progress through to high school, that number drops to 3 out of 10. What in the world is happening to our creative capacity? What are we doing wrong? How are we hurting our kids with our teaching methods?


Identifying the Creativity Spark

Creativity is something that at times seems very illusive and out of reach. It often comes to us at a moment’s notice, and then gets lost in an instant if not harnessed and cultivated.

It’s absolutely paramount that we become aware of our creative tendencies so that we are better prepared for the messages that they send our way.

For starters, it is important to understand that creativity comes to all of us in a variety of different ways. For some people it comes as a burst of joy, excitement, inspiration or energy, while for others it may come through a subtle means that is more difficult to recognize.

It doesn’t really matter which way creativity comes to you, the most important thing is to learn to recognize and understand your body’s patterns of communicating and the subtle messages that often get obscured by reality.

Many creative ideas are lost before they even have an opportunity to harvest within our minds, because we simply fail to recognize the obscure patterns of their subtle messages. Yet the solution lies hidden within our habitual patterns of thinking and behaving. By learning to watch and observe these subtle patterns, you will naturally condition your body to take notice of the creative messages that are coming your way.


Unlocking Your Creative Genius Mindset

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to journey into the mind of a creative genius?

Creative people have a somewhat unique way of thinking about things that allows their creative intellect to come to the forefront when they need it most. These creative individuals work on cultivating certain characteristics and belief systems within their psyche that proactively expand their understanding and awareness of the world around them.

Creative people have a tendency to talk to themselves in a specific way that naturally encourages their creativity to expand and evolve as they go about finding solutions to life’s daily problems and challenges.

Creative people take certain daily steps and actions that help them to expand their ability to think in new and unique ways.


The Characteristics of a Creative Genius

A creative genius cultivates certain and specific characteristics that are essential for creative thinking.

Let’s take a closer look at this creative mind by breaking down each of these characteristics one at a time:

Flexibility of Thought

A creative genius is flexible in the way they think and make decisions because creativity requires an open mind that takes many perspectives into consideration at one time. It is from this information that the creative mind is then able to piece together all of the essential ingredients that are required to bring their unique ideas into the physical world.

Possibility Thinker

A creative genius thinks that everything and anything is possible given enough time, thought and self-reflection.

Risk Taker

A creative genius naturally takes risks in thought and action, that help them to overcome the challenges they face in surprising and seemingly unexpected ways.

Focused Awareness

A creative genius sets clear goals and objectives that enhance their focus and awareness of what they need to do to achieve their desired outcomes.

Through the act of focus they are better able to direct their minds on the most important thoughts, concepts and ideas that will help them attain their end objective.

Courageous Disposition

A creative genius is courageous in thought and action.

Being courageous often  requires breaking the rules and going against orthodox methods of thinking and acting. They understand that the fastest way to a brilliant idea is achieved when they go against the grain.

Imaginative Mind

A creative genius cultivates, grows and expands their imagination every single day. They understand that to successfully overcome the problems and challenges in their lives, that they must always be thinking in unique ways from a variety of different perspectives.

The creative strategies of brainstorming that we will discuss later within this post will help you to get a deeper insight and understanding into this imaginative thought process.

Intuitive Perspective

A creative genius understands that the most brilliant ideas don’t often come from the conscious mind, but rather from deep within the unconscious recesses of their intuitive mind.

Playful and Curious Nature

A creative genius has a curious and playful nature that naturally expands their ability to think about events, objects, other people and circumstances in unique and creative ways.

They approach every problem from a reflective child-like perspective that is not constricted or limited by past thoughts and experiences — always open to asking insightful questions that expand possibilities.

Persistent

A creative genius understands that the answers won’t always reveal themselves in the first instance. They acknowledge the fact that it may be some time before the perfect idea comes to mind. As a result they approach each challenge as an unfolding journey of learning and experience that must be tackled in a persistent and patient manner.

Independent

Even though a creative genius takes other people’s ideas and opinions into consideration, they are essentially independent thinkers and doers.

As independent thinkers they are able to step away and reflect-upon the information they have gathered — piecing it together without the external pressure that the average individual falls prey to.

Not being swayed by the opinion of others, allows them to think critically about their problems, thusly attracting better and more insightful solutions that will help them to attain their goals and objectives.

Dedicated

A creative genius is thoroughly dedicated to their desired outcome. Through a dedicated spirit they are able to get more done in less time and with less effort.

Proactive

A creative genius always makes proactive decisions and takes proactive action. Yes, they can sit on their thoughts and ideas for long periods of time in order to allow them to cultivate and grow within their minds. However, once an idea has been effectively crystallized, they will not hesitate, and will take immediate action to bring their thoughts into the physical world.


The Beliefs Systems of a Creative Genius

A creative genius believes three fundamental things that direct all of their daily habits, thoughts, decisions and actions.

These three beliefs lay down the groundwork for the personality traits that we discussed above.

Belief in their Ability

A creative genius has an unshakable and an undeniable belief in their ability to think creatively and overcome any obstacle or problem that stands in their way.

Belief in a Higher Power

A creative genius believes that there is a higher power, a God-like figure or energy within the Universe that helps to trigger and stimulate their creative capacity.

They believe that this higher power connects all living things into a collective consciousness of sorts that each and everyone of us can tap into at any moment in time. They utilize this collective consciousness to spark creative ideas and solutions to the problems confronting their reality.

Belief that there is No Failure, Only Feedback

A creative genius wholeheartedly believes that there is no failure, only feedback.

Every decision and action has an outcome which brings with it specific consequences that we must learn to live with. If the resulting circumstances lead to negative consequences, then the average person will often perceive these events as mistakes or failures. However, a creative genius only sees the process of feedback taking shape. In fact, everything that occurs provides them with a greater array of feedback that helps them improve their thinking, decisions and actions.

It took the great inventory Thomas Edison approximately 10,000 individual experiments before he successfully found a method that would make a light-bulb light-up for an extended period of time. Throughout the course of his research he saw no failure, but rather only a feedback-loop that provided him with a deeper insight and understanding into the process of how not to invent a light-bulb.


How a Creative Genius Talks to themselves

A creative genius has a habitual process of self-talk that naturally enhances their ability to think creatively under significant amounts of pressure.

The Language of Creativity

The language that a creative genius uses is optimistic and focused on finding solutions to the challenges that are confronting their present reality.

Their language is also very reflective, which stimulates deep thought about their present life circumstances.

Questioning Tactics of Creativity

A creative genius utilizes strategic questioning tactics to help them think creatively about events and circumstances. These questions are focused on solutions and they always expand the possibilities of reality.

It is only through effective questioning tactics that a creative genius is able to bring forth the necessary creativity that allows them to manifest unique and ingenious ideas.

Here is a typical question a creative genius would normally ask:

How can I get the most from every mistake I make?


The Simple Actions of a Creative Genius

A creative genius takes specific actions throughout their day that enhances their creative thought process. Here is a closer look at some of these patterns of behavior:

Incorporating Journaling and Mind Mapping Tactics

A creative genius enjoys journaling or mind mapping their thoughts, ideas, learnings and experiences because it helps them trigger new insights and concepts. They understand that only through the process of turning a thought into a written word or diagram can they effectively take control of the vast amount of ideas that are continuously flowing in and out of their mind.

Leonardo da Vinci was one of the greatest inventors of all time. Did you know that he was an avid note taker? He understood that it was very difficult to make sense of his ideas if they weren’t concretely presented on paper and laid out in front of him in a logical way. It is through this diligent and dedicated process that he brought to life some of his most famous and well known inventions.

Proactive Learning

A creative genius understands that the process of creativity requires the constant and proactive habit of learning from every person, event, circumstance and experience.

They diligently take time each day to learn new things and take-in unique perspectives and ideas from other people and their environment. All of these new insights and learnings help them to further expand their creativity and awareness, thusly improving their ability to successfully overcome obstacles and challenges in unique and creative ways.

Process Orientation

A creative genius has an objective or goal in mind at all times, however, they are not fixated on their outcome, instead they focus their energy on the process of creation and the journey of transformation.

A creative genius meticulously absorbs themselves within the present moment or within the task they are currently working on. All of their thoughts, questions, energy and actions go into improving this process and bringing forth the ideal outcome that is consistent with their goal and objective.

Expanding Ability of Lucid Dreaming

A creative genius understands that dreams can unlock doors to magnificent insights and ideas that the conscious mind cannot even comprehend. Moreover, they realize that only through the process of tapping into the unconscious mechanics of their inner mind, can they effectively solve the pressing problems that are confronting their reality.

Creative geniuses have consciously taught themselves the process of lucid dreaming — helping them tap into the unlimited reservoir of resources and ideas contained within their unconscious mind.


Common Roadblocks Sabotaging Creativity

When it comes to stimulating creative thought, it’s sometimes not what you do but rather what you refrain from partaking-in that will most heavily influence the creative thinking process.

Within this section we will discuss some common external and internal roadblocks to creativity. As you read through these roadblocks, identify which ones are most applicable to your present circumstances or frame-of-mind.


External Roadblocks

These are roadblocks that come from the external environment. Let’s take a look at three common creativity culprits.

Messy Environment

A messy disorganized environment leads to a messy and disorganized mind.

We think with a greater clarity of thought when the environment within which we work, live and play is spotless and systematized.

In order to spark new creative insights the mind needs to be sharp and focused on only the process of attaining its goal and objective. If the external environment is messy, this leads to an overwhelming amount of sensory distractions that lead to ineffective thinking and unproductive habits.

It should however be noted that creative people tend to be messier and more disorganized than the average person.

Too Much Clutter

Clutter is closely intertwined with the previous point. However, the difference with clutter is that it can actually be organized and systematized in a way that improves our effectiveness and work efficiency.

Clutter can become an overwhelming distraction because it forces our minds to work through too much stuff, which undermines the creative thinking process.

A creative mind must have clarity of thought. It must have the ability to think freely and openly without falling into the web of a cluttered lifestyle.

Decide today to clear the clutter from your life, and you will open the doors to new creative insights and ideas.   

Sensory Distractions

A creative mind cannot think in creative ways if all it thinks about are the sensory distractions that get in its way.

To enhance your creative output, be sure to remove all sensory distractions from your external environment. Sensory distractions could be people, unnecessary movement of objects, unpleasant smells, sounds, and even inappropriate temperature settings that lead to discomfort and inefficient thought.


Internal Roadblocks

These are roadblocks that come from internal thoughts, habits and patterns of behavior. Let’s take a look at some of the most common creativity culprits.

Fear of Criticism

We cannot think creatively when we fear that others will criticize us for our thoughts and ideas.

Fear of Making a Mistake

We cannot think creatively when we fear that we will make a mistake. This fear will literally paralyze our process of thinking and therefore lead to hesitancy and doubt, which sabotages the creative thinking process.

Fear of Breaking the Rules

We cannot think creatively when we are afraid of breaking the rules.

A creative genius does not worry about standardized rules of thinking, acting or behaving. In fact, they acknowledge and understand that without breaking the rules, they will fail to develop their full creative potential.

The Emotion of Frustration

We cannot think creatively when we are suffering from frustration.

Frustration hints to us that we have the ability to think and do things in a specific way, however due to unexplained circumstances, we cannot seem to get what we want when we want it most.

Learn from your frustrations and alter your methods, strategies and tactics in order to help you achieve your desired outcome in quick succession.

The Emotions of Anger

We cannot think creatively when we are suffering from anger.

In many instances anger manifests as a result of ongoing long-term frustrations that we just cannot seem to overcome.

Manage anger through a process of deduction. Simply identify the source of your anger. Next, develop some simple strategies that will help you to better manage and control these objects, people or events. And finally work on logical and tactical methods that will move you forward in a proactive and productive way.

The Emotion of Overwhelm

We cannot think creatively when we are suffering from overwhelm.

We become overwhelmed when we are dealing with too many tasks, have too many responsibilities or simply lack clarity.

To help you overcome overwhelm, first take some time to gain clarity on the outcomes that you would like to achieve. Secondly, chunk your tasks and responsibilities down to make them easier to manage, delegate or let go of. And finally, systematize your environment, learn to manage your time more effectively, and take timeout to rejuvenate and clarify your thinking in a proactive way that will help you to stimulate creative thought.

Thoughts of Indecision

We cannot think creatively when we are indecisive.

Indecision comes from a lack of clarity. Do some research, set some goals and objectives, and gain clarity on the outcome you would like to achieve. Once clarity has been obtained, indecision will tend to wane, and your creativity will flourish.

Thoughts of Pessimism

We cannot think creatively when we are riddled with pessimistic thoughts.

A creative mind constantly thinks about possibilities, solutions, and seemingly improbable answers that help them to break down obstacles and barriers with a string of creative ideas.

Work through your pessimistic nature by focusing only on solutions, answers and possibilities to the problems that are currently shaping your reality.

Practical and Logical Thinking

We cannot think creatively if we continue to think about things practically.

A practical mind attempts to break down the validity and feasibility of an idea. This tends to stifle and paralyze creative thought — limiting the flow of ideas and inspiration that creativity brings forth into our minds.

To move through this roadblock successfully, simply ask yourself possibility questions that will help you to focus on solutions and answers.

Premature Judgment

We cannot think creatively if we persistently judge or jump to quick and rushed conclusions about the ideas that are harvesting within the recesses of our minds.

To help you move through this roadblock it is important to remember not to make quick judgments or conclusions before allowing an idea to grow and cultivate within your mind.

Following the Rules

We cannot think creatively if we just follow the standardized rules of thinking and doing things. Instead think outside the box, think creatively about every event, object and circumstance in a way that hasn’t been thought of before — making sure to break every rule within the rulebook along your way. ;)

Lack of Belief

We cannot think creatively if we have a lack of belief in our own creative ability.

Your belief systems determine the decisions and actions you make on a daily basis. This is why it is absolutely critical that you work on building an abundant amount of references (personal experiences) that will help you to gain confidence about yourself and your personal ability to be creative at all times.

Lack of Confidence

We cannot think creatively if we lack confidence in our ability to bring forth a creative idea.

The foundations of confidence evolve from the quality and strength of our belief systems. Transform and grow your belief systems, and they will help you to build the self-confidence you need to unleash your creative potential.

Lack of Inspiration

We cannot think creatively if we suffer from a lack of inspiration.

Inspiration comes through us in a variety of unique ways. Whether you find inspiration in music, nature, within other people, while watching plants grow, going to the movies, reading a motivational book, or by simply smelling flowers — it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you are able to tap and unlock this inspiration within yourself when you need it most, thusly enabling you to stimulate instant creativity.

The NLP process of anchoring is a great method to use that will help you stimulate inspiration. It basically involves the process of creating an anchor (through the process of touch) that automatically triggers an inspirational state of mind that helps stimulate your creativity.

Lack of a Concrete Vision

We cannot think creatively if we lack clarity about the future outcomes we would like to experience within our reality. This doesn’t mean that we must be meticulously specific about our approach towards obtaining these outcomes. In fact, in order to stimulate more profound creative thought, it is actually recommended that we are flexible with our approach, while at the same time being specific with the outcomes and visions we would like to realize within the physical world.

Lack of Energy

We cannot think creatively if we lack the physical energy to get out of bed in the morning.


Simple Strategies that Enhance Creativity

The creative process is a very personal experience. In fact, the creative methods of thinking that work well for one person, may indeed lead to a great deal of frustration for another person. This is why it is so important to develop your own personal style of thinking that will help you to expand on your thoughts and ideas in creative and unique ways. However, if at the moment you do not believe that you are very proficient with expanding your creative capacity, then the following suggestions will hopefully help you to gain a few unique insights and understandings that will encourage you to think creatively.

As you are reading through these strategies, make sure to expand-upon and restructure these methods in your own unique way. By taking ownership of these strategies you will effectively work through any problem and challenge that confronts your reality with greater proficiency and speed.


Conscious Stimulation of Creativity

As you go about your day it is important to stay focused and centered on your creative visions and objectives.

In order to help you with this process, here is a list of some simple methods you can utilize to stimulate your creativity throughout your day:

Day Dreaming

This is a wonderful method of bringing forth creative ideas to the forefront of your mind.

Begin by writing down a question you are seeking an answer to on a piece of paper, then rest back on your chair and close your eyes.

Now clarify the question within your mind by repeating it over and over again in a variety of ways.

After a couple of minutes just settle back and relax without longing for an answer. For the next 20 minutes or so, just enjoy the pleasant thoughts that flow across your mind like clouds floating through the sky. If you have enough focus and intention, you will often find that fragments of the answers you are looking for come to you as visions within your mind. Sometimes these visions will be somewhat obscure or metaphorical in nature. However, they will no doubt hold hidden clues to the answers you are seeking.

Pleasant Music

Music that relaxes and calms our mind naturally disarms us and stimulates the natural flow of creative ideas.

Whenever you seek inspiration, simply remove yourself from all external distractions, close your eyes and play your favorite piece of music. As the music plays, reflect on a pressing question that you seek answers to.

Once the question has been posed, just lay back and simply pay attention to the patterns of music that are currently absorbing every cell of your body. Believe it or not, you may actually find that your answers will come to you in visions reflected within the music you are listening to.

Laughter

Laughter is a great stimulator of creativity because it relieves stress and the tension that we carry around within our body. Therefore find as many ways as you can to laugh and be happy throughout your day.

Gaining Clarity

If in doubt, your creativity will not sprout. Therefore constantly work on gaining clarity about the outcomes you desire to experience throughout your day. The greater your clarity the more effectively you will think about the events and circumstances within your life, and this will likewise help to stimulate the creative spark within your mind.

Challenging Assumptions

As we go about our day, we tend to make an infinitesimal amount of assumptions about the events and circumstances of our lives.

Assumptions that are not questioned or challenged create roadblocks that prevent us from progressing forward with our lives. The worst part about this is that we are blinded by many of these roadblocks because we never question them in the first place.

Begin today by questioning even the most obvious of circumstances, and you will effectively open the doors to a surge of creative energy.

Thinking Like a Child

As previously discussed, children are very inquisitive, and this naturally stimulates a creative flow of energy that they bring forth into their daily thoughts, decisions and actions.

In order to keep this creative flow of energy circulating throughout your body, it is important to cultivate a constant and persistent curious nature as you go about your day. This will assist you with overcoming the problems and challenges that are confronting your life, while helping raise your emotional levels of awareness about events and circumstances.

Thinking in Metaphors

Metaphors are essentially the windows to the creative mind.

Many times we will fail to fully comprehend an idea when it is presented to us in a logical way. On the other hand, when the idea is articulated within a story that is focused on metaphorical concepts that are familiar to us, then it is instantly assimilated and understood.

This does take practice, however, the more often you think about the problems and challenges within your life from a metaphorical perspective, the greater your capacity for creative thought will be realized.

Thinking Using Possibility Questions

As you go about your day you must cultivate the habit of thinking in terms of possibilities. The best and most effective way to do this is by repeatedly asking one simple question:

What if…?


Enhancing Creativity Through Strategic Questioning

The problems and challenges we face every single day are nothing more than perspectives of our judgmental minds. They are only problems because we do not yet perceive them as being anything else. They are in fact overwhelming aspects of our lives, because we feel as though we lack control, the willpower and skill to deal with them in an effective way.

What most of us probably don’t realize is that our problems can easily be overcome if we just learn to ask ourselves the right kinds of questions that will expand our understanding about the problem from a variety of different perspectives. We must essentially obtain a full 360 degree overview of the problem before unleashing our creative juices. This process involves a three-pronged attack::

Identification Questions

These questions help identify the circumstances of the problem, which help you to see it from a variety of different angles and perspectives.

Here you would essentially ask who? what? when? where? why? and how? questions to assist you with identifying the circumstances and events that created the problem.

Time Specific Questions

These questions help identify the time specific effect of the problem.

These questions delve into the past, present, and future impact of the problem under question. The more thorough of an understanding we have about the time specific nature and impact of the problem, the more creatively and effectively we will be able to manage it.

Awareness Questions

These questions help to identify the personal impact that the problem has upon the individual — given the skills, resources, and tools that the individual has at their disposal.

The questions focus on the spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical impact of the problem under question.

When we have a comprehensive understanding of how the problem will impact us — given everything we have at our disposal — then we will be better prepared to clear the path for the creative solutions that must follow.

Once you have completed this strategic questioning process, you are finally ready to take the plunge into the creative cycle which we discuss below.


The Creativity Cycle

The following is a quick summary of a recommended process of creativity that will help you unlock a deep reservoir of creative ideas:

Settlement Phase

In order to bring forth creative inspiration, your first objective is to settle yourself within a motivational and relaxing environment that naturally stimulates the creative thought process.

Rejuvenation Phase

Once you are settled and relaxed within your creative environment, you must now close your eyes and bring forth into your mind past creative successes and achievements that will help inspire and put you into a state of creation.

The greater the emotional intensity you bring forth here, the more inspiring the surge of creative energy you will feel expanding outwards from your body.

Creation Phase

At this point you are now ready to apply some of the creative strategies we will discuss below in order to bring forth unique, ingenious and brilliant ideas that will spark instant creativity.

It is important not to judge the concepts that you bring forth into your mind. Instead become a possibility thinker who persistently expands upon their ideas in many surprising and unexpected ways.

Take out a piece of paper and mind map the creative visions that are forming within the recesses of your mind.

Synchronization Phase

Having already conceptualized some brilliant ideas, you are now ready to draw out a plan of how you will bring these ideas into the physical world.

Begin now by thinking logically about your thoughts and ideas in ways that will help you to make sense of them in the real world.

This stage essentially involves drawing up a plan of action that will help you to implement your ideas with great proficiency within the final stage of the creativity cycle.

Implementation Phase

Having conceptualized an idea and drawn up a plan of action, you are now ready to take the necessary steps that will help you to bring your ideas into the physical world.

In order to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your plan, it is important that you stick to a flexible approach and constantly expands your thinking and awareness about the possibilities and opportunities that you could take advantage of at any moment in time.


The SCRAMPER Technique of Creative Thought

SCRAMPER is a creative problem solving technique that will help you ignite new insights and ideas when confronted with daily challenges.

This post will only provide you with an introduction to this process. If you seek further insights into this technique than please have a read of creative problem solving with SCAMPER. Luciano has put together a very thorough analysis of this technique. As a bonus he is also giving away a free downloadable reference mind map and provides a link to an online questioning tool that will help you overcome your problems.

Before proceeding with this method of creative thinking, bring to mind a problem that is currently causing you a little difficulty.

As you read the questions one at a time, keep in mind that your goal is to stimulate creative thought, new insights and understandings that will help you view the problem from a unique angle and perspective.

Every step of the SCRAMPER technique will bring to light some intriguing solutions that you must further develop and expand upon in order to attain the outcome you are after. Hence it is paramount that you do not simply settle on this technique, but rather utilize all the strategies discussed up to this point.

Substitute

Here your creative goal and objective is to replace a part of your problem with something else. To do this you can change things, places, people, ideas or even your emotions. Each and every one of these substitutions will provide you with a new insight and understanding that will help you reach an effective and creative solution to your problem.

Here are some questions you may like to ask:

How can I replace or change the parts of this problem with something that will best help me attain my desired outcome? What effect would that have? How would it transform my perspective about the problem?

How can I somehow replace the people involved within this problem? What effect would that have? How would it transform my perspective about the problem?

How can the rules be changed in someway in order to make this work? What effect would that have? How would it transform my perspective about the problem?

How can I change my feelings and attitude about this problem? What effect would that have? How would it transform my perspective about the problem?

Combine

Here your creative goal and objective is to combine different aspects of the problem in a unique and imaginative way that will help you to solve the dilemma that is confronting your reality.

The key here is combining seemingly unrelated ideas and concepts with the problem under question.

Here are some questions you might like to ask:

What ideas or parts of this problem could I potentially combine? What effect would that have? How would it transform my perspective about the problem?

How can I shift and combine different aspects of this problem in a way that will provide me with a solution? What effect would that have? How would it transform my perspective about the problem?

How can I merge this problem with other objects in a way that will provide me with a solution? What effect would that have? How would it transform my perspective about the problem?

Random Input

Here your creative goal and objective is to input random attributes of other objects, circumstances or problems in order to reach an effective creative solution.

Here are some questions you might like to ask:

How can I utilize the attributes of a newspaper (or any other object or person) to efficiently solve this problem? What effect would that have? How would it transform my perspective about the problem?

As an example, a newspaper has the following attributes: has a large area, is printed, is flexible, is made up of separate pieces, is soft, light and porous. Now, your goal is to take each of these attributes and randomly input them into your problem. Remember that your outcome is to stimulate creative thought, it’s about finding an effective solution at this moment.

You have to keep in mind that as you move through this SCRAMPER technique that it’s never one single idea that will lead you to a solution, but rather a combination of ideas that will spark the answers you need, to help you overcome this problem successfully.

How would I effectively deal with this problem if it was larger than I initially expected?

How would I effectively deal with this problem if it was flexible in nature?

How would I effectively deal with this problem if it was made up of separate bits and pieces? etc…

Adapt

Here your creative goal and objective is to adapt an existing idea in such a way that it will help you to successfully solve your problem.

Here are some questions you might like to ask:

What else is like this? How could I use it? What effect would that have? How would it transform my perspective about the problem?

Is there something similar to my problem, but in a different context?

What solutions does the past bring to light about the current problem?

What could I copy, borrow or steal from other approaches that were made in an attempt to solve this problem? 

These approaches individually may not have worked. However if you combine a few of them together you may be surprised with the results.

Whose characteristics, strategy and methods could I model or emulate in order to successfully overcome this problem? What effect would that have? How would it transform my perspective about the problem?

Magnify

Here your creative goal and objective is to figure out ways you could magnify or exaggerate your problem in a way that could potentially bring to light some weaknesses or unique insights and perspectives.

Here are some questions you might like to ask:

How can I magnify and make this problem larger? What effect would that have? How would it transform my perspective about the problem?

How can I exaggerate and overstate the problem? What effect would that have? How would it transform my perspective about the problem?

How can I increase the frequency of this problem? What effect would that have? How would it transform my perspective about the problem? What hidden solutions may this bring to light?

How can I duplicate this problem in another area of my life?

The process of duplication may bring to light some amazing insights as you try and replicate the creation process that initially triggered this problem.

Put to Other Uses

Here your creative goal and objective is to see how you could potentially put the problem to other uses from alternative perspectives.

Here are some questions you might like to ask:

How can I utilize this problem to my advantage in order to bring forth an effective solution? What effect would that have? How would it transform my perspective about the problem?

How would a child effectively approach this problem? What effect would that have? How would it transform my perspective about the problem?

What other potential perspectives could exist that would provide me with effective solutions?

Eliminate

Here your creative goal and objective is to eliminate or minimize different parts of the problem.

Here are some questions you might like to ask:

How can I simplify this problem right down to its basic skeletal structure? What effect would that have? How would it transform my perspective about the problem?

What parts of the problem can I control and effectively remove or eliminate altogether? What effect would that have? How would it transform my perspective about the problem? Could it lead to a solution?

Rearrange

Here your creative goal and objective is to rearrange your problem in such a way that it spins the problem on its head and provides you with a unique perspective.

Here are some questions you might like to ask:

How can I rearrange the problem in such a way that I successfully minimize its negative consequences? What effect would that have? How would it transform my perspective about the problem?

Can I change the speed, time, or location of this problem in order to successfully minimize its negative consequences? What effect would that have? How would it transform my perspective about the problem?

What potential solutions come to light if I viewed the problem back-to-front? What effect would that have? How would it transform my perspective about the problem?

What potential ingenious solutions could I bring to light if I did the exact opposite of what I thought? What effect would that have? How would it transform my perspective about the problem?


Final Thoughts

From an outsiders perspective, creativity can seem like an omnipotent ability that is somewhat mystical in nature. The great thinkers of this world make it seem so easy and natural as they go about their daily lives bringing seemingly impossible concepts into physical reality. Yet there is a lot more to creativity then at first meets the eye.

Creativity is a habitual process of thought and reflection about the world, that brings to light new learnings, perspectives and understandings. It is a structured process of ongoing development, that is at the same time very flexible in its nature. And yet it is simply a process, that can be learned, mastered, and perfected.

I hope you enjoyed this post. If you have utilized any of these creative thinking strategies, or would like to share some of your own, than please feel free to comment below.


Time to Assimilate these Concepts

Creative Thinking

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Did you gain value from this article? Would you like to keep these concepts at the forefront of your mind? If so, then you might like to download the accompanying mind map reference poster to your iPad, tablet or computer. The map presents you with a quick overview of this article. It’s designed specifically to help improve your memory and recall of this information so that you can better integrate these concepts into your daily thoughts, habits and actions. Your purchase will also go a long way towards supporting the further development of these maps.

If you enjoy using these maps, then I would like to encourage you to become a Lifetime Member where you will gain access to an ever growing number of 250+ self-growth mind maps that can help you excel in every area of life. It would be fantastic to have you join our community of existing lifetime members.


Edward de Bono’s Thoughts on Creativity

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Gain More Knowledge…

Here are a number of highly recommended free articles and online resources that will further help expand your understanding about this topic:


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49 Responses to “Becoming a Better Creative Thinker”

  1. Robert A. Henru June 20, 2008 at 8:53 am #

    Hi Adam, this is the most thorough article that I know on creativity. Thank you so much for all your effort in integrating all the different sides of creativity.
    I love blogging because it expands my possibility on doing creative thinking!

    Robert

  2. doc rogers June 20, 2008 at 10:54 pm #

    hey adam,

    you might be interested in a recent interview (podcast) i did with a Dr Chris Stevens. A Principal Psychologist with Creative Mastery International … we talk about (amongst other things), how to be more creative. let me know what you think.

    all the best … doc

    http://www.knitwareblog.com/dr-chris-stevens-creative-mastery-interview-00473/

  3. Adam Sicinski June 21, 2008 at 11:17 am #

    Robert,

    Thank you for the kind words. I appreciate your feedback :)

    Yes, there is no doubt that blogging can become a very creative process which can essentially evolve into many unexpected directions. The more creative we become with our content the more value and enjoyment our readers receive.

  4. Adam Sicinski June 21, 2008 at 11:45 am #

    Doc,

    Thanks for sharing this insightful interview with Dr Chris Stevens. It’s a great resource for those seeking more answers to help boost their creativity.

  5. Jenny June 23, 2008 at 9:56 am #

    Interesting post.

  6. Bamboo Forest June 26, 2008 at 9:27 am #

    This is a very interesting post! Very thought provoking. And you definitely do a good job underscoring the importance of creativity. I agree that calming the mind helps our creativity. You used the example of listening to music. Also, ever notice how great blog ideas come about in the shower? When we are relaxed this is often when the best ideas come to us. Two thumbs up for creativity!

  7. Adam Sicinski June 26, 2008 at 12:17 pm #

    Bamboo,

    I agree with you. Great ideas come in the shower because we relax and let go of built up tension that is progressively collected throughout our day. I also read somewhere that the negative ions created by the movement of water in the shower help raise our energy and thusly can further stimulate creative thought.

    Thank you for sharing your insights :)

  8. Cultivating Your Inner Genius July 3, 2008 at 7:37 pm #

    Hi,

    Yes, absolutely! Creativity has many different sides. To identify, grow and enhance the creativity will definitely allow us to succeed in any field of endeavor. Your article is quite intriguing.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  9. Millions Livio July 20, 2008 at 8:50 pm #

    “Belief in a Higher Power – A creative genius believes that there is a higher power, a Godlike figure or energy within the Universe that helps to trigger and stimulate their creative potential. They also believe that this High Power connects all living things and matter into a Collective Consciousness of sorts that each and everyone of us can tap into at any moment in time. They utilize this Collective Consciousness to spark creative ideas and solutions to the problems confronting their reality.”

    What the hell does believing in “higher power” have to do with being creative? Some of the most creative people in history were non-religious, because they questioned everything around them due to creative thinking. This is pure propaganda.

  10. Adam Sicinski July 20, 2008 at 10:44 pm #

    Millions Livio,

    Religious beliefs are insignificant when it comes to creativity. However, a truly creative person understands and believes that there is more to life than what is perceived within the physical world. The reference made to a “higher power” does not necessarily signify a God-like presence (although for some people it might), but rather a metaphysical connection with the Universal energies that connect all of life together on an unconscious level of awareness. If we are talking in scientific terms, than we would refer to this as the “Quantum field”.

    This is why creative people tend to be daydreamers. This is why they tend to fantasize and bend the dynamics of reality in surprising ways. And this is why creativity is sometimes perceived as being mysterious and somewhat supernatural in nature.

    Ideas can suddenly come from unexpected sources and in surprising ways. That is when you realize that there is more to life than meets the eye.

    True creativity is something that gets “tapped into”, and not something that we “tap out” of ourselves.

    I hope this clarifies your thinking.

  11. liam July 20, 2008 at 11:24 pm #

    Wow, great read (what I managed to read) Can’t read it all right now, but what I have read was interesting. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Thomas J. West July 21, 2008 at 4:44 am #

    Wow – what a ton of information! I just downloaded the open source FreeMind mind map program and started using it a few days ago. It is helping me map out plans for my website, a creative musical project, and even my “to-do” list. You definitely have a thorough knowledge of this powerful tool.

  13. Adam Sicinski July 21, 2008 at 10:53 am #

    Liam,

    Thank you for visiting. I am glad you enjoyed the content.

    *******

    Thomas,

    FreeMind is a great tool. And Mind Mapping in general is a growing skill that is no doubt changing how we manage and process information. The uses of mind maps is endless. I will actually put a post together in the future presenting the numerous ways a Mind Map can be utilized in the real world.

    Thanks for sharing.

  14. Nicholas Powiull August 19, 2008 at 8:45 am #

    Incredible work indeed! I can see all the time, energy, focus, passion, and dedication that went into this and it definitely made it full of valuable information and golden nuggets that has the potential to be life-changing!

    I added this to Stumble, Digg, Reddit, & Del.icio.us using http://www.socialmarker.com and I encourage everybody to do the same. :)

    Thank you for sharing.

    Have a Consciously Flexing day,
    ~Nicholas Powiull @ Conscious Flex

  15. Louis Pretorius May 9, 2009 at 1:57 am #

    WOW!!!

    If only more people would realize their true untapped potential. In my country alone it would cause a huge explosion of creativity. People taking charge of their life’s…

    I really find this site extremely helpfull. It is in my Favorites as of now! My own personal business Coach will be in high heaven once I inform her of this blog.

    Many thanks!

    Louis Pretoriuss last blog post..10 Promises to YOURSELF!

    • Adam Sicinski May 9, 2009 at 9:14 am #

      Hi Louis,

      Thank you for your kind words. Initially all of these Mind Maps were designed to assist me with my Life Coaching work with clients, and have turned out to be quite a blessing and time saver. They have in essence become a self-coaching tool that I use to keep myself primed and focused on the things that are most important to move me forward towards my personal goals and objectives.

      Thanks for visiting the site Louis.

  16. bassey June 7, 2009 at 6:22 am #

    i found the write up on creativity a superb piece, keeps my mind fresh and open to new ideas

    • Adam Sicinski June 7, 2009 at 8:10 pm #

      Thank you for reading Bassey. I am happy that you found the article useful.

  17. KathyC June 15, 2010 at 4:07 am #

    I believe that the whole person must be considered in tapping creativity. And sometimes, it’s necessary to change patterns entirely. Movement, for example, can really unlock creativity – and put a person in touch with the Universe beyond. I’m a fan of conscious dance for this purpose, but surely yoga, martial arts, or any type of intentional movement might achieve similar results.

    • Adam Sicinski June 15, 2010 at 10:10 am #

      Hi Kathy,

      I absolutely agree with you. Rhythm and movement does stimulate creativity. Personally, I like to go for a jog whenever I need help to formulate new ideas.

      Thank you for sharing the website link :)

  18. Adelaide June 24, 2011 at 4:50 pm #

    Hi,
    have greatly benefited from whatever have read from your views about critical and creative thinking and i hope that we all put in practice the ideas of being creative in our thinking and we will succeed in building our nations.

    • Adam Sicinski June 25, 2011 at 1:00 am #

      Thank you for your feedback :) I share your hopes as well :)

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