In an era of human-machine collaboration, humans need certain skills, known as meta-skills, to thrive. These include: empathy – conscious empathy for the emotional state of another person, intuition, vision – systemic thinking, the ability to dream – applied imagination, the ability to embody – the talent for implementation, learning – the ability to acquire new skills. They don’t require a high IQ. But you need creativity, the ability to find the right idea. The rules below are not new, although they can help create something new.
As the philosopher Schopenhauer said: “Talent achieves a goal that no one else can achieve; a genius achieves a goal that no one else sees. ” So, I wish you to launch an endless cycle of creativity growth: your desire will fuel your learning, and your learning will fuel your desire.
1. Break the rules
You’ve probably heard that it’s unwise to break the rules. Or maybe you’ve heard the exact opposite statement: there are no rules, and the function of innovators is precisely to destroy patterns and stereotypes. Which of these statements is correct?
Oddly enough, both. This is the “paradox of genius.” To follow the rules of creativity, you need to break them. By following them, you automatically break them. And that’s because number one says, “Break the rules.”
The rules of creativity are not a rigid scheme, but approximate principles, general models that artists, scientists and thinkers have followed for many centuries, creating their creations. You do not need to adhere to these postulates, and you do not need to memorize them either. But getting to know them will broaden your horizons and allow you to cope with any task that requires maximum concentration.
2. Feel the desire
Before embarking on a goal, you need to “wish it correctly”. Desire is a warm-up before solving a problem. When you let your thoughts float aimlessly in the clouds of opportunity, all limitations and prejudices disappear and only a flickering trail of a dream remains, a faint hint of an idea.
At this stage, you do not need to limit your imagination. What if the impossible turned from what you wanted into possible? What fleeting desire would you like to turn into reality? What future problem could you start to address right now? Desire allows you to transcend reality, even for a few seconds, to envision a future worth striving for.
3. Feel Before Thinking
Don’t start planning immediately after seeing the goal. Learn to be calm and listen to yourself. To your disgruntled inner voice. To suck in the spoon. To a barely perceptible longing. Resist the temptation to use standard approaches to solving complex problems and revolutionary approaches to solving simple ones. Do not start moving without taking enough time to sort out your feelings and consider all the possible difficulties. Depending on the nature and magnitude of the problem, this can take anywhere from five seconds to five days.
Close your eyes and immerse yourself in thinking about the problem. Let her “speak”. Imagine that you are a psychotherapist and the problem is your patient. Listen to it carefully. Treat her with deepest empathy. Open up to her. Don’t try to solve it. Let your feelings guide you.
4. Look for something that doesn’t exist yet.
One of the skills that distinguishes a leader from a follower is the ability to see what could have been, but which is not yet. What is already there can be seen by most people. You don’t need to have magic glasses to notice how popular the Eiffel Tower is with tourists or that millions of people are willing to pay extra for a cup of coffee in a trendy place. But in order to see what has not yet been created, magic glasses will come in handy, because what is missing is invisible by definition.
To do this, you need to learn to see the so-called negative space. This term is used by artists and designers when they talk about an empty background of a picture, white space on a page with text, defaults between lines of a play, pauses between sounds of music. In the art world, these are all deliberately used elements of composition. In the market, these are crevices hiding new opportunities.
Look for new opportunities – potential innovation lurks in every threat. The problem of being overweight contains the possibility of developing new types of nutrition. Global environmental pollution is forcing the search for new sources of energy. The rise in unemployment requires the development of new models of education. The list is endless if you are able to see what is not yet there.
5. Ask questions
Find out what kind of problem you are solving. Until you appreciate the nature and scope of the problem to be worked on, your proposed solution will be wrong, even if it seems right to you. Baseline conditions are the constraints of a problem that keep it from bloating indefinitely. They narrow the focus, set the direction of movement.
Your first impulse may be the desire to immediately start looking for a solution to the formulated problem. Resist it. Be curious. Ask questions. Probe the soil. In fact, you may not have any questions at first. Sometimes it takes a while for them to appear. But gradually you will learn to accept assignments correctly.
6. Define the problem boundaries more narrowly
The main principle is this: a well-structured task description generates energy, a fuzzy one dries it up. Creative people don’t get stuck because they don’t know the solution – no, they don’t see the problem.
State the problem – do it in one short paragraph, and then state its most likely consequences. List the restrictions. Is this a budget? Time? Technological barrier? Lack of knowledge? List the possibilities of the problem. There is a solution to every problem. Describe the criteria for success – add a paragraph to the problem statement about what happens if you do nothing to solve it.
7. Learn to think systematically
The human brain loves either-or situations. We prefer to choose A or B. Yes or no. A simple choice between two options gives us a sense of control, while an unrestricted choice creates a sense of anxiety. That is why we strive to choose “between”, not “among”.
For the same reason, we prefer to break down complex problems into their component parts. Concentrating on each of them is easier than keeping the whole problem in mind. Although, without understanding the whole, it is difficult to figure out how its components relate to each other.
Complicating matters, we are often thwarted by emotion and intuition — the very tools we rely on as we wade through the jungle of possible solutions to problems. Plus, the human mind is a bunch of prejudices.
The habit of forming a full-fledged view of the problem at the stage of deliberation can balance out prejudices. See how the parts of the problem fit together. Look at a difficult situation from different angles to spot hidden relationships and unexpected opportunities.
8. Stay in the dragon’s lair
Dragon’s Lair is the gap between what is and what could have been. This is a space full of discomfort, darkness and doubt. Most people would rather grab hold of the first rope thrown to them – “what is” – rather than stay in the “den” and fight the “dragon” guarding what might have been. But that’s where the ideas are hidden. And a genius is someone who is willing to endure discomfort and uncertainty while generating as many new ideas as possible.
The unresolved conflicts we face in the dragon’s lair are actually the main sources of creative energy. The gap between vision and reality creates creative tension that is only released through a new idea. Without creative tension, there would be no need to strive for an alternate reality. And the inevitable consequence of the absence of such tension is the “as usual” situation.
Creative thinking requires you to leave the known and throw yourself into the unknown. This is especially difficult to do when you have deeply studied your problem, subject or industry. The famous is very attractive, it holds the brain like a magnet.
9. Surprise yourself and surprise others
A sign of innovation is surprise. No surprise – no new. No new – no interest. No interest – no value. Accordingly, surprise is a critical element of value creation through innovation. The first step to surprise others is to surprise yourself. This can be darn difficult, given that your mind tends to immediately provide ready-made answers to all the questions posed. And it is impossible to be surprised at what was known earlier.
10. Rate how successful your idea is.
When a good idea comes up, the center of emotion sends a signal to the body. It manifests itself in the form of a nervous tremor or flash that tells you: something extraordinary has happened. Suddenly, the world begins to revolve madly, thousands of tumblers set in motion, and the long-awaited answer arises, mysteriously flickering before your disbelieving gaze. Being able to sense these signals is an integral part of creativity.
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