Following are some of the things that people believe about creativity that harm their ability to create the ideas they need to improve their lives.

·       You are either creative or you are not.

·       Creativity is innate. Creative geniuses are born not made.

·       There are right-brained people and left-brained people.

·       There is only one right answer for every problem.

·       The process is more important than the outcome.

·       When confronted with a problem, fixate only on those things you have been taught from someone else in the past and apply that to the problem.

·       Always look for what has worked before.

·       Never risk failure by suggesting something that has never been done before.

·       Always work under pressure with deadlines.

·       Always think logically and linearly.

·       Avoid ambiguity.  

·       Wait for inspiration. Don’t expect to get ideas until you “feel” inspired by your “muse.”

·       Look for ways to minimize surprise and the unexpected.

·       Always listen to the experts. They know more than you do.

·       Avoid failures. If there’s a chance an idea could fail, don’t do it.

·       Work with your first impression of the problem. First impressions are usually the most         accurate.

·       Always work with the first idea you have. Don’t waste time looking for a better one.

·       If you have a good idea, you will remember it, don’t waste time writing it down.

·       Creative people are “flaky” and “bizarre.” None have common sense.

·       Once you have an idea, focus on it and only it and spend time improving it. The key is         quality not quantity.

·       Always brainstorm in structured settings where a facilitator controls the environment with    firm discipline.

·       Never waste time with silly and bizarre thoughts and ideas.

·       Judge your ideas instantly. Don’t waste time.

·       Don’t waste time asking people in other areas what they think.

·       Avoid daydreaming.

We are taught to be critical, judgmental, negative and reproductive thinkers. In this culture we take pride in dissecting ideas and thoughts of others and demonstrating their flaws. The more negative we can be, the more intelligent we appear to others. In meetings, the person who is master of destroying ideas becomes the most dominant one. The first thought we have when confronted with a new idea is “Okay, now what’s wrong with it?”

When forced to come up with ideas, we come up with a few. These are the ideas we always come up with because these are the old ideas that are closest to our consciousness. Then we spend our time looking for what’s wrong and for reasons why any new ideas can’t work? Our judgmental mind will censor anything that is new, ambiguous or novel. We respond to new ideas the way our immune system responds to a deadly virus. Our inner voice will advise us to “Not look stupid,” “Give up. You don’t have the background or expertise,” “it’s not relevant,” “If it was any good, it would already have been done before” “This will never be approved,” “where’s the proof? “This is not logical,” “Don’t be silly,” and so on. Anything that is not verifiable by our past experiences and beliefs is not possible.

People are taught to think the way they always thought and too always get what they always got, the same-old, same-old ideas.

Michael Michalko

(Michael Michalko is the author of Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative Thinking Techniques; Cracking Creativity: The Thinking Strategies of Creative Geniuses;  Thinkpak: A Brainstorming Card Deck, and Creative Thinkering: Putting Your Imagination to Work.)

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