Everywhere you turn there is talk about the need for more creativity. Thomas Friedman calls it the currency of the future. Living in this information age, where everyone has access to the same information at the click of a mouse, this makes complete sense. But the question is: How do you make yourself more creative? Creativity requires the brain to make new connections from old information. In other words, it needs the proper environment and ingredients to think different.
Unfortunately, the brain is not hardwired to be creative. It needs the right conditions to have maximum creativity. In order to be efficient (save energy and thinking resources), it tries to constantly create patterns of thinking that it can store away and not have to think about. This means it labels things and attaches a known meaning to those labels. For example, that flathead screwdriver is a tool that turns flathead screws. Or, Susan is an accountant who rectifies balance sheets. On top of this, in the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world that we live in, our brains are highly stressed, which makes the brain want to rely on known, similar, efficient patterns even more. In these intense, high stress conditions, the brain is too often operating in the High Beta Frequency range where creativity is even more dampened.
What this means is if you want to maximize your creativity, you have to understand the importance of your Sustainable High Performance habits. Without the best brain foods, the brain will not have the energy or nutrients it needs to operate properly. Without Recovery strategies that balance the autonomic nervous system and bring the brain into its Alpha and Theta Frequencies, it can’t think differently. Without Movement, it is unlikely that critical neuro-circuits in the brain will be activated which will promote new thinking. Finally, without a different Mindset, your old thoughts will not let go to allow new thoughts to be created. In other words, without taking the Tignum total integration of Mindset, Nutrition, Movement, and Recovery approach, you won’t have the proper environment in your brain to even have a chance.
Now assuming you are Tignumized (the Sustainable High Performance state created by implementing Tignum strategies), some recent research from Tony McCaffrey, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, will provide some great insights. He found that by removing the known label from something and breaking it down into its parts, the brain was more likely to quickly think of it in new ways. For instance, that flathead screwdriver became a metal rod with a plastic handle. The metal rod could be used to pry things, conduct electricity, spread glue, or many other things. The plastic could be melted down to fill cracks or paste something together. Susan, the accountant, was now a capable person who has a multitude of analytical, computer, and problem-solving skills. This means she may be a perfect fit for a multitude of projects within the team outside of accounting.
Like so many other things that involve high performance, you can wait to have that lucky creative thought or you can do it by design. I hope these thoughts help you do the latter. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
By Scott Peltin
Founder & Chief Performance Officer