Why Can’t You Think ‘Outside the Box’?

P18A9538Do you ever ask yourself such a question? Why is it so hard for us to think the way no one has ever thought before? Why are there so few genius inventors of unique products and theories?

Reasons

First of all, human beings are lazy by nature. We love our comfortable boxes, and thinking outside of them seems like too much work. Try to remember the last time you had a unique idea that nobody else has ever had before. Hard, isn’t it? It’s because we set a camp in our box and don’t want to get out. The world outside of it became too strange, too unpredictable. Hence, we don’t even take an effort to think differently, and expect great ideas to come to us in a magic way.

People are creatures of habit. We take the same route to work every day, eat the same kind of food, watch the same type of television. Rare individuals love changes, most of us are a bit scared of them. Thinking ‘outside the box’ requires implementing changes. Our brain will not think creatively if we don’t feed it new information.

One more reason is our personality. We all are wired in a certain way. ENTJs and ISFPs, cholerics and melancholics – all of us think and behave in the same way most of the time. Sometimes, it’s not that easy to recognise our own patterns because we’re too used to them. Therefore, we continue living in our own boxes being scared of the outside world.

Solutions

I could give you easy solutions, such as: take a new route to work, choose a new restaurant or take up a new hobby. I’ve already talked about it in my previous post ‘Why Breaking a Habit is So Important’. These are great ideas, but we will go the other way.

Let’s put our brain to work. We will try out one awesome creativity technique. In his book ‘Thinkertoys’ Michael Michalko emphasises one incredibly important thought: “To achieve that ray of insight, one must take the imaginative chance, abandon the usual way of looking at things, transcend the possible, and reach for the impossible.”

He gives us several examples of imagination-spurring questions that we could use to start thinking ‘outside the box’. Here are a few of them:

  • What if you had eyes in back of your head as well as the front?
  • What if human beings never died? How would this affect our personal, business, and religious lives?
  • What if trees suddenly started to produce petroleum in great quantities?
  • What if people slept 23 hours every day and were awake for only one hour?

These are just the examples. You can create your own questions that fit your situation better. Think, what angle of your problem always seemed too bazaar for you? Which direction have you never looked? Try to think of an idea or a solution that always seemed too crazy. Play a ‘what if’ game with yourself, and then, try to answer those questions.

The answers might give you new insight and lead you to new unique ideas absolutely outside the box. Just give it a try. There’s one thing though, it requires some work and some of your time.

If you’d like to get a step-by-step system to develop creativity, unleash your right brain and learn to generate ideas on demand, enroll in my new online Creativity Power Course. It’s a no nonsense, practical course packed with effective techniques and exercises. By the time you finish it, you will have developed a list of your own unique ideas for your specific project.

Join it here!

Creativity Power (1)

 

Why Breaking a Habit Is So Important

Do you have more good habits than bad ones? Name three habits that you would like to get rid of right now. I could name five of them easily!

Most of us are dukes of habit, and it’s normal. Habits help us perform tasks that don’t require a lot of thinking. However, sometimes they become our enemies. When we do too many things without consideration, we don’t leave enough room for creativity. Our moves and our behaviors become predictable, and we don’t give ourselves enough food for new ideas.

If you want to train your creative muscle, it’s time to break some of those habits. They might be absolutely harmless, like taking a certain route to work, or sitting at a certain place at your dinner table. Nevertheless, try to change your standard way of thinking and doing things. Allow yourself to acquire new habits and adopt changes into your life.

Here are a few ideas for you:

  • Listen to a different radio station
  • Go to a new coffee shop
  • Choose a different kind of tea or coffee
  • Eat something unusual for breakfast
  • Go to a restaurant that you’ve never been before
  • Pick a newspaper that you’ve never read before
  • Try a new recipe
  • Go for a run instead of biking
  • Bike instead of going to a gym
  • Take up photography, dancing, pottery or any other new hobby
  • Try learning a new skill every month
  • Change your morning and evening routines

There could be more options, but I am sure you got the idea. The most important thing is to break the habitual cycles that block creative way of thinking. Try to change just one thing tomorrow, I dare you! 🙂  And then tell us which one you changed!

 

17 Best Creativity Quotes

Creativity has been my favorite topic for years. At the same time, I’ve always loved to collect quotes that inspired me. Let me share with you these 17 great creativity quotes which provoke new way of thinking and encourage re-evaluation of old views. May they inspire you too!

  1. “Creativity takes courage. ” – Henri Matisse
  2. “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” – Pablo Picasso
  3. “The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” – Sylvia Plath
  4. “Doors are for people with no imagination.” – Derek Landy
  5. “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.” – Ken Robinson
  6. “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” – Albert Einstein
  7. “The thing is to become a master and in your old age to acquire the courage to do what children did when they knew nothing. ” – Ernest Hemingway
  8. “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” – Scott Adams
  9. “Creativity is the greatest expression of liberty.” – Bryant H. McGill
  10. “Negativity is the enemy of creativity.” – David Lynch
  11. “Creators are creative because they believe they are creative.” – Michael Michalko
  12. “An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.” – Edwin Land
  13. “Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up” – Pablo Picasso
  14. “You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club” – Jack London
  15. “Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the things you can think up if only you try” – Dr. Seuss
  16. “You see things; and you say, ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say, ‘Why not’?” – George Bernard Shaw
  17. “Creativity is contagious, pass it on” – Albert Einstein

If you’re interested in learning how to develop creativity and generate ideas on demand, get my FREE guide to Creativity Power! It’s based on a lot of research and years of experience.

Who Wants to Generate Ideas on Demand?

Creativity (2)Whether you’re a writer, a businessman, or an accountant, you constantly need ideas. Sometimes, you try to come up with easier ways to solve certain problems. Sometimes, you are in a process of creating a new product, a new method, or a new advertising campaign.

Maybe, you need ideas to persuade somebody, organize something, or resolve a relationship issue. In any case, we all would benefit a lot from the skill of generating ideas whenever we need them, on demand.

There are lots of techniques which could help you in this task. I will share with you those methods that I’ve used and that proved effective.

1. Diversify your brainstorming.

The easiest way to do that is, of course, bullet points. Just take a sheet of paper or open a new document in your computer and start writing. Put in all ideas that come to your mind without criticizing them. Another way you can brainstorm is use mind mapping. We won’t go into detail, but if you’re interested, google it.

However, my favorite method is the following. I write ideas on small pieces of paper or sticky notes, one idea per a note. Then I organize them, rearrange them, put them into categories and write a plan on how to apply the best ones. This way is the best because you can see all ideas in front of you on the table, floor or board. It’s easy and very convenient.

2. SCAMPER

In his book Thinkertoys Michael Michalko reveals several great techniques. SCAMPER is one of them. It’s a checklist of idea-spurring questions. I want to mention this technique because it includes several different methods and ways to generate ideas.

First of all state the challenge or subject you want to think about. Then ask SCAMPER questions about each step of the challenge and see what new ideas come to your mind.

 

  • What can I SUBSTITUTE?
  • What can I COMBINE?
  • What can I ADAPT?
  • How can it be MODIFIED or MAGNIFIED?
  • How can I PUT it to other use?
  • What can I ELIMINATE?
  • What is the REVERSE of this?
  • What REARRANGEMENT might be better?

3. Create your own image board.

Another great way to inspire the birth of ideas is to create a board of images. As you are working on a challenge, select pictures, photographs, or diagrams that are relevant to your target and pin them to the board. Some people make a special folder in their computer and open it whenever they need inspiration.

Most of us think visually, not verbally. I remember when a picture of a road gave me an idea for the logo of my new company.

4. Take a break.

I love this technique because it’s simple and works 90% of the time. It’s based on the information in the book by Barbara Oakley A Mind for Numbers. She argues that our brain works in two modes: focused and diffuse. If you need to come up with an idea or a solution to your problem, focus on the challenge for some time and then take a break. Go for a run, make yourself a cup of tea, take a short nap or do anything else that would distract your brain from the challenge at hand. Your brain will be forced to get into the diffuse mode and it will be looking for the solution while you’re resting.

There are several examples of well-known individuals who used this technique in their creative processes. Among them are Salvador Dali and Thomas Edison. I can personally testify that it works. Whenever I feel stuck trying to come with an idea or a solution, a little break works magic. Try it yourself.

These are four best techniques to come up with awesome ideas on demand. There are many more in my Creativity Power course that will be launched in June. If you would like to learn more about creativity and generate unique ideas, download my FREE Guide to Finding Ideas and Solutions. 

Enjoy your life and shine your light! This world will benefit from your ideas!

5 Ways A Second Language Boosts Your Creativity

Everybody knows how important it is to learn new languages. Your brain activity improves, the risk of getting dementia or Alzheimers decreases, new opportunities for career growth arise, traveling becomes easier and more fun. I could enumerate many more but we will focus on one crucial reason – creativity development. If we choose the skill that’s in the biggest demand in the world right now, creativity will definitely be the one.

So, what are the ways learning a second language can help you boost your creativity?

  1. Leave your comfort zone.

We all understand that new ideas arrive as soon as we start doing something unusual for us. I’m sure you heard phrases “think outside the box” and “get out of your comfort zone”. Why does our brain require new information and fresh circumstances for creative juices to start flowing? Well, tell me, do you like eating the same food every day for months? I can eat the same dish for a few days, but not more. Our creative brain also gets tired of the same food and will appreciate new challenges. Learning a new language will force you to leave your comfort zone. It’s something new and unusual, it’s challenging and fun!

     2. See the world differently.

If we want to develop creativity, it’s important to open our eyes to new things. When I started working on this skill, one of the tasks was to pay attention to the world around me. And that’s when an amazing thing happened – I started seeing details, noticing places that I have never seen before. Learning a second language teaches us to pay attention, discovers a totally new world for us. It gives us new eyes for structures that we’ve never used before in our native language.

     3. Learn about new cultures.

One of the ways to learn the language faster is to immerse yourself into the culture of your target language. Read about the traditions and the history of that particular nation. Travel to the countries where people speak the language you’re learning. Communicate with native speakers and try to learn about their culture as much as possible. All of this will not only help you master the language, but will also create new pathways in your brain and help develop creativity.

     4. Change the way you think.

When we’re in the process of learning a second language, we encounter a lot of new structures and words that make us think differently. I always encourage my students to start thinking in their target language. When they do that, it changes the way their brain works and the way they think. For our creativity to flourish we also need to learn how to think differently. Is it hard? I don’t think so. It’s just something we’re not used to.

     5. Use memory techniques.

Have you ever learnt new words in a second language? It can be pretty challenging. If you want to make this process easier and more fun, you will start using various memorisation techniques: finding associations, creating images, making up sentences and stories with them. All these and many other techniques involve our creative muscle. The more you use your creativity, the stronger it becomes. Just like with everything else – the more you practice, the better you get at it.

Let’s bring it all together. The conclusion is obvious: learning a new language will help you boost your creativity, develop your brain and achieve more in life. The next step is to decide what language to learn!

If you could learn any language in the world in three months, which language would you choose?

 

 

10 Ways to Feed Your Imagination

25744338382_d66a368856_kDo you think you have good imagination? I think you do. If you disagree, maybe, you just need to feed it more often. Give it some food every once in a while and it will pay you back with boosted creativity, unique ideas and spot on solutions.

I used to think I am not a creative person. Then several incredible books and videos changed my understanding of this notion. The problem was connected with my inability to use creative power and God-given imagination. Even though my rich imagination was always a source of entertainment for me, I didn’t connect it with creativity. It took me years to learn how to use it. What’s even more important, it took me too long to realize the huge value of our imagination. Its effect on our creative abilities, critical thinking, and decision making process can’t be overestimated.

So, let’s dive into 10 ways to feed our imagination.

1. Books

This is probably the most obvious one of all, that’s why it’s number one. When you read a book or listen to an audio-book, you can’t help but imagine what is going on. Your brain creates images and stores them in its supreme filing system. You will be able to retrieve those images when you need them.

First, I wanted to say, read fiction – it will feed your imagination more. However, there were lots of non-fiction, educational, spiritual and self-help books that gave me most useful ideas and inspired me incredibly.

2. Movies

Yes, I know. Movies and TV shows can be very addictive. They can throw you into the prison of wasting time, and the escape is not that easy. I’ve been in that prison and still get there once in a while. And nevertheless, watching movies and TV shows in moderation is good for us. Good quality films and serials are made by creative people who spent thousands of hours using their own imagination. I am sure we can learn from them, tap into their creativity and draw out a few ideas for ourselves.

3. Art

There is a variety of opportunities unfolding  in front of us when we think of art. You can be a spectator or a participant of art. Go to a dancing show or take dancing lessons. Attend a concert or learn how to play a musical instrument. Visit a museum or participate in a pottery master class. Musicals and plays, opera and architecture, exhibitions and galleries – all of this is the endless source of nourishment for our imagination.

4. Speeches

Have you heard of TED talks? In the last several years these short speeches have been my constant source of inspiration. Go to http://www.ted.com, and you will see: their mission is to spread ideas. It kind of speaks for itself, doesn’t it?

Do you have a favorite speaker? I have several and like to watch them on YouTube or TED regularly. There are two or three preachers whose sermons I especially enjoy, and who motivate me to grow spiritually. So, choose those speakers who inspire you the most. Find the way to watch their speeches on a regular basis and your imagination will never go hungry.

5. Educational events

Just like speeches and talk, educational events can boost our creativity and feed our brain new ideas. You can attend a conference, a seminar or a even a webinar. Go to a workshop,  a master class or participate in a convention. Usually such events give us an opportunity to meet new interesting people. You will hear speeches, learn new information, get a new experience and have a chance to interact with other creative individuals.

6. New Experiences

Several points on this list can be seen as new experiences. I am sure you are aware of our brain’s feature to develop connections between neurons when we learn something new. That’s how our intellectual abilities grow and our creativity flourishes. New researches show that our hippocampus even continues to create new cells into old age.

So, when will those new cells appear? The moment you experience something new. Another question: where can you get a new experience? Go to your friend’s party and meet new people. Take up a new hobby. Do something you have never done before. Try new food, travel to new places, jump with a parachute or go hiking. The sky is the limit.

7. Travel

I know I already mentioned travel before, but it’s so important that it deserves special attention. Seeing new countries, cities, and continents broadens our worldview, expands our horizons, develops our brain and, of course, feeds our imagination. Saint Augustine said: “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” So, it’s time for you to open this book and start reading one page after another.

8. Walks in the nature

Do you live in the city or in the country? Are you stuck at the office all day? How often do you get in touch with the nature? There is SO much it can teach us! God’s creation is magnificent! The beauty of it is mesmerizing! Take a walk in the park, go to the nearest river or lake. Look around and allow yourself to relax. Your brain craves that so much. So, give it what it wants, because, oh man, you do owe it.

9. Time with friends

I can say without a doubt that my friends have always been my inspiration and the biggest gift of all. Of course, you can brainstorm with your friends and deliberately work on generating ideas together. However, you can even just spend time with them, talk, laugh, cry, and have fun.

Surround yourself with creative people and constantly learn from them. And since everybody is creative, you can just spend quality time with your friends. Pick their brain, ask them questions, discuss the topics you’re both interested in. Your imagination will thank you later.

10. Daydreaming

And finally, my favorite one. Oh, daydreaming… I used to think it was a huge waste of time and a sign of weakness. And, of course, it can become pretty addictive and kill our productivity, but it can also be very useful. Daydreaming for our imagination is like weight lifting for our body. It builds our creative muscle. It helps us create images in our brain that never existed in reality. That’s pure imagination, my friends.

Sometimes I create whole movies in my head visualizing myself in various desired situations. What a treat it is sometimes to go into that imagined world. What are the benefits if that, you will ask? Lots of them. It’s a workout for my brain and for my imagination. It helps me live through situations that I will have to go through in reality. It gives me more confidence in the real world. It boosts my creativity and inspires me to pursue my goals and dreams!

A little piece of advice – don’t ever get sucked into your own daydreaming. Be reasonable.

Bringing it all together

There is an enormous number of ways to feed your imagination. Get on with it. Don’t underestimate the value of it for your life and your professional career. Good luck!

5 Principles of Creativity

There are actually hundreds of creativity techniques, principles and tips to be shared. However,  today I would like to focus on these 5 ideas. The first principle is the one that I have already written about. It is by all means the most important one.

1. You ARE creative.

There are so many people in the world who don’t consider themselves creative and still believe that creativity is something only artists have. This conviction should be exterminated from people’s minds. You’re creative, your child is creative, your friends are creative. Give them and yourself a chance to tap into creativity, to free it from the prison of doubts and wrong beliefs. You will see how much can be accomplished with this new mindset.

2. Creativity is a skill which can be developed.

Do you still think creativity is something you’re whether born with or not? Do you consider it a personality trait? I am happy to bring you the good news – creativity is a skill. You can develop it even if now you think you’re not creative. There are exercises and techniques to get better at this. Just like reading and writing, creativity can and should be learned and practiced.

3. Positive attitude is crucial for generating ideas.

Have you heard about the researches done by Gallup and other organizations on emotional intelligence? It’s proven that our creativity flourishes when we’re in a good mood. If you adopt negative attitude and start thinking that you have no imagination, how can you expect to generate great ideas? You need to believe in yourself and your own creative abilities to be able to achieve success in this process.

4. There is power in team creativity.

“Two are better than one”, “a threefold cord is not quickly broken” – I am sure you’ll agree with these statements based on your own experience. Solo brainstorming can be quite effective, although if you involve other people in your creativity session, the result might surprise you. You will be the one making the final decision, but ask as many people as you can for their opinions, team up with your friends and you will have more ideas to choose from.

5. We should constantly feed our imagination.

Do you know why everybody says children have better imagination? Because they constantly learn something new. They discover the world every day, and while their brain gets new information, it has enough food for creating new images. We as adults, can also feed our imagination by reading new books, getting new experiences, meeting new people. We can learn a new language or acquire a new skill. The possibilities are endless!

These are only a few principles to remember if you want to be more creative. There’s much more that I cover in my new online course and in a guide to creativity power.

The guide is free and it offers you 7 steps to finding ideas for business and life. You can find it here. Enjoy!

FREE Creativity Power Guide