Einstein once said, “Every child is born a genius.” But the reason why most people do not function at genius levels is because they are not aware of how creative and smart they really are.
By practicing a few simple exercises and applications, you can start your creative juices flowing, and you may even amaze yourself at the quality and quantity of good ideas that you come up with. Let’s start off with the definition of creativity. In my estimation, after years of research on this subject, the very best definition of creativity is, simply, “improvement.” You don’t have to be a rocket scientist or an artist in order to be creative. All you have to do is develop the ability to improve your situation, wherever you are and whatever you are doing. All great fortunes were started with ideas for improving something in some way. In fact, an improvement needs to be only 10 percent new or different to launch you on the way to fame and riches.
It has been estimated that each year, driving to and from work, the average person has about four ideas for improvement, any one of which could make him or her a millionaire. The problem is not that you don’t have the ideas you need to accomplish anything you want but, rather, that you fail to act on those ideas. Most people dismiss their own ideas because they think that those ideas cannot be very valuable if they were the ones who thought of them. Thomas Edison, arguably the most successful creative genius in human history, once said that creativity is 99 percent perspiration and only 1 percent inspiration. Extensive research on creativity tends to bear him out.
There are four generally accepted parts of the creative process: There is preparation, where much of the work is done. There is cerebration or rumination, where you turn the matter over to your subconscious mind. There is realization, where the idea or ideas come to you. And finally, there is application, where you work out the creative idea and turn it into something worthwhile. Of the four, preparation seems to be the most important, and it involves gathering the right data and asking the right questions. Your success in life will be determined largely by the quantity and quality of ideas that you generate.
You can begin building your creative muscles with focused questions. Some that you might think of are the following: What are we trying to do? How are we trying to do it? What are our assumptions? What if our assumptions are wrong? All improvements begin with questioning the current, existing circumstances. If you are not making progress for any reason, stop and think, and begin asking yourself the hard questions that will stimulate your mind to consider other possibilities. Asking focused questions-hard questions that penetrate to the core of the matter-is the real art of the creative person. The next step is to have the courage to deal with all the possible answers. Once you have come up with a possible solution, ask yourself, “What else could be the solution?” If your current method of operation were completely wrong, what would be your backup plan?What else would you or could you do? What if your current procedure or plan turned out to be a complete failure? Then what would you do? And what would you do after that? All of those questions will force you to think further and come up with better answers.
The second way to build your mental muscles is with intensely desired goals. The more you want something and the clearer you are about it, the more likely it is that you will generate ideas that will help you to move toward it. That is why the need for clearly written goals and plans for their accomplishment is repeated over and over. Any intense emotion, such as desire, stimulates creativity and ideas to fulfill that desire. And the more you write down your goals and plans, and review them, the more likely it is that you will see all kinds of possibilities for achieving those goals.
The third generator of creative-thinking muscles is pressing problems. A good question to ask is “What are the three biggest problems that I am facing in my life today?” Write the answer to this question quickly, in less than 30 seconds. When you write the answer to a question in less than 30 seconds, your subconscious mind will sort out all extraneous answers and give you the three most important ones. When you have your three most pressing problems, ask yourself, “What is the worst possible thing that can happen as a result of each of these problems?” Then ask yourself, “What are all the things that I can do, right now, to alleviate each problem?” If you have a problem that is worrying you for any reason, think about what you could do immediately to begin alleviating that concern. This is a prime use of your creative powers. So a key to success in creative thinking is clarity. Take the time to think through, discuss and ask questions that help you to clarify exactly what you are trying to accomplish and exactly what problems you are facing at the present moment. Just as fuzzy thinking leads to fuzzy answers, clear thinking leads to clear answers. A second key is concentration. The ability to concentrate on a single subject without diversion or distraction is a hallmark of the superior thinker. A third key is an open mind. The average person tends to be rigid and fixed in his thinking about getting from where he is to where he wants to go. The creative thinker, however, tends to remain very flexible and open to a variety of ways of approaching the problem. The average person has a tendency to leap to conclusions and determine that there is only one way to achieve a particular goal. The superior thinker, on the other hand, tends to be more patient and willing to consider a variety of options before moving toward a conclusion.
There is one other creative concept that can be very helpful when it is used in combination with what we have already discussed, and it is called the “limiting step.” Between you and any goal that you want to achieve or any problem that you want to solve, there is almost invariably a limiting step or a “choke point” that determines the speed with which you move from where you are to your destination. This limiting step may be another person, a particular obstacle, a specific difficulty, or even a lack of some information or skill. Your job is to think about it and decide what it is, and then go to work to remove it. You are a genius, and you were born with the potential for exceptional creativity. But creative abilities are latent. They are like muscles that grow with use. You can increase your creative powers by using them, over and over, in every situation, deliberately and specifically, until creativity and a creative response to life is as natural to you as breathing in and out is. There are very few things that you can do that can have a more powerful positive impact on your entire life than becoming excellent in creative thinking. And you can if you think you can.
By: Brian Tracy