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The Creative Mindset. By: Yanyun Xiao Soc 159: Creative Entrepreneurship - Nordgren. creativity is a natural and innate state of mind. It is not something that some people have and others lack. We were all born with the creative instinct

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The Creative Mindset


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  1. The Creative Mindset By: Yanyun Xiao Soc 159: Creative Entrepreneurship - Nordgren

  2. creativity is a natural and innate state of mind • It is not something that some people have and others lack. We were all born with the creative instinct • Children’s creative ‘playing’ (e.g. fantasy games) is a universal phenomenon that attests to humans’ innate creative ability. • Creativity then is not something far away and difficult to achieve because it’s inherent. It is something natural that we need to re-discover within.

  3. test of left vs. right brain • To illustrate that we can retrain our brain in order to reconnect with our creative side, I did a little experiment: • Article by Herald Sun: Includes a visual test from which you can find out whether you are thinking with the left or right side of your brain • The article also includes lists of left vs. right brain functions • I discovered that when I did an activity that involved the left brain (e.g. solving a quadratic equation), I saw the image rotating counterclockwise; and when I did something that involved the right brain (e.g. listening to and appreciating music) I saw the image as rotating clockwise • Try looking at the image with different kind of thoughts (that involve either right or left brain). Can you make it change direction? • So in theory, we could engage in more of these right-brain activities to encourage creative, right-brained thinking (Herald Sun online article: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/right-brain-v-left-brain/story-e6frf7jo-1111114603615)

  4. achieving creative innovation • Scientists see creative innovation as the communication between regions of the brain that are not usually connected. • A crucial ingredient of creativity is the ability to develop alternative solutions, known as ‘divergent thinking’ • To foster your creativity and divergent thinking ability, you must: • Suspend your judgment • Recognize the “thinking traps” your brain can fall into, and actively avoid them

  5. suspend your judgment • “Creating” and “editing” are processes that happen in different parts of the brain. • Creativity largely occurs in the right side of the brain, whereas editing or analyzing happens in the left side. • Creativity becomes stifled when you don’t shut up your internal editor: Take a piece of paper and write the first paragraph of what might become a novel, or start sketching out a painting. If you hear something along the lines of “That’s stupid.” or “This sucks.” or “This is a waste of time…”  you are letting your internal editor stifle your creative process. • The moment you move from the right to the left side of the brain your creativity dries up  finish your creative process without interruption, then edit and analyze your end product!

  6. Photo credit: jimkukral.com

  7. suspending judgment: how-to • Given that the biggest obstacle hindering our creativity is our critical self, meditation is a solution to address this obstacle: it’s proven to alter the state of mind • Meditation can take many forms, and can be as simple as quiet contemplation • The optimal state of mind you should practice during meditation: • Stilling the mind:A mind cluttered with thoughts lacks the spaciousness needed for creativity. Be still and clear your thoughts for a few minutes before starting a creative endeavor. The easiest way to still the mind is to focus on your breathing, or to listen to calming sounds. When we start the creative process from a point of stillness, ideas flow naturally and freely. • Let go of the ‘me, mine, myself’: you cannot sit outside of yourself and watch what you’re doing with a critical eye – be within yourself and let yourself go in order to suspend your judgment • Beforgiving: A kind, forgiving attitude will allow you to accept the inevitable failures that come with experimentation and creativity

  8. recognize your brain’s “thinking traps” • Our mind sets many traps for us  in order to become more creative (or return to your innate creative ability), you have to first recognize these mind traps and develop ways to get around them. • Some common thinking traps you should be aware of: • Overthinking trap  overanalyzing certain ideas so that you’ve numbed the creative aspects of your brain • Underthinking trap not letting ideas develop to their fullest extend or potential, not letting ideas take you to the farthest distance it will go • First impression trap first idea/impression/guess influences the direction of your thinking, and subsequent thoughts are anchored in the first impression • Status Quo trap  because certain methods or ideas are proven to be effective and true, they automatically have advantage over new, untried ideas/alternatives

  9. some common thinking traps (cont’d) • Trap of protecting earlier ideas/decisions/choices  this relates to the trap that you let your initial ideas take you in a certain direction. Sometimes, you have to let it go: all the energy, capital, etc. that you’ve invested in any previous ideas are sunk costs and should not hold you back from any new, and possibly better ideas • Trap of looking for confirmations you seek to confirm what you expect or want to see: looking for information that will most likely support your initial point of view — while conveniently avoiding information that challenges it (this is somewhat connected to the first impression trap) • Trap of making premature “intuitive” leaps  you don’t have the complete picture yet because you haven’t seen all sides of the issue or haven’t gathered all the data required to make the correct “intuitive leap” associated with a creative solution

  10. getting around “thinking traps”: how-to • Always view a problem from different perspectives. Avoid being stuck with a single starting point (e.g. posing the question in different ways to set up different potential “solution paths” to explore)  there is almost always more than one solution to a problem! • Focus on your goals and make decisions in order to reach them. Don’t become attached to the particular series of steps you took towards that goal; always consider how you can better fulfill that goal from now on  be adaptive! • Avoid exaggerating switching costs. Most often, they’re not as bad as we tend to assume, so if you come up with a better idea/solution that might contradict your previous work, don’t be hung up on the sunk costs you already invested in your previous idea, and go for the new one!

  11. getting around “thinking traps”: how-to (cont’d) • Listen to people who are NOT emotionally committed to past decisions or who were NOT involved in earlier decisions  their opinions tend to be the most objective • Think on your own before consulting others. Get as much data as possible and explore some conclusions by yourself before getting influenced by others’ opinions. • Seek information from a wide variety of sources. Get many opinions and broaden your frame of reference. Avoid being limited to a single point of view. This gives you the ability to make the best/most correct intuitive leap because you have a more all-encompassing pool of info.

  12. getting around “thinking traps”: how-to (cont’d) • Expose yourself to conflicting information and examine evidence from all sides with equal rigor. Don’t be soft on evidence that do not confirm with your initial hypothesis. Find a devil’s advocate to argue against your decisions, or build the counterarguments yourself. • When seeking opinions/advice, pose neutral questions instead of leading questions to prevent people from giving an answer that confirms your biases. (e.g. “what should I do with my company?” is better than “should I sell my company?”) • Consider the status quo as just a mere alternative. Don’t get caught in the ‘current vs. others’ mindset. Ask yourself: would you choose your current situation/solution if it were NOT the status quo/convention? Don’t give extra value to the “current.”

  13. what I believe to be the best advice for creative entrepreneurs • Be OK with making mistakes and be OK with failures • Mistakes and failures are inevitable in the creative process • Look to famous, creative people in history: Einstein: 240 papers Picasso: 20,000 works Edison: 1,039 patents  Yet we only know about a select few of their works, and this highlights the fact that they had a LOT more failures than successes. • After all, Schumpeter’s “Creative Destruction” tells us that even creative solutions or models that have succeeded will eventually yield to better solutions/models in the end  even existing successes will eventually fail, so you must learn to accept failure and adapt accordingly

  14. an illustration of when non-critical, free thinking leads to innovation • Brian Arthur and the Medici Effect • The Medici Effect – asserts that between various fields, disciplines, and cultures, there exists an abundance of different combinations of established concepts that can emerge as extraordinary new ideas to be explored. Best potential for innovation lies in developing ideas that are between disciplines, creating either new fields or offer bridges to fields • Brian Arthur, by developing the “anything is possible” attitude and disregarding the judgment of others, was able to draw from the complex systems of biology and physics to arrive at his notion of Increasing Returns.

  15. an illustration of when non-critical, free thinking leads to innovation • What we can learn from Brian Arthur and creation of the Medici Effect reinforces the points I’ve made about the creative mind • Arrival at the Medici Effect (at the heart of which is creative thinking) involves the above mind practices. • Forego self-critical judgment that says “this is stupid” or “this would probably not work” • The best way to get approval is not to need it • Nobody can tell if what you’re doing is good, meaningful or worthwhile, you have to believe in your endeavors yourself • Accept your initial failures to have eventual success

  16. THE END