INTENTION IS THE SEED THAT CULTIVATES YOUR CREATIVITY

Many of us have the illusion that we think comprehensively, but we don’t. We cannot take in multitudes of information, assimilate it, and make it valuable in any meaningful way; we take in information in sequence. It isn’t possible to simultaneously process in parallel multiple potent stimuli and do it effectively. You can demonstrate this to yourself by performing the following thought experiment.

Thought Experiment      

               Visualize the alphabet in capital letters.              

               A……………………………………………………………………………………………………….Z             

               How many letters have “curved” lines in them

Notice how you think. You see the letters flash before you “one by one,” sequentially, not spontaneously. It’s like watching a slide show. We think no faster than the speed of life. If you are still uncertain, try counting forward to100 to one hundred by threes, and backwards by seven simultaneously.

Because we think sequentially and no faster than the speed of life, we cannot pay attention to everything effectively. Our attention becomes too scattered to be of any use. You’ll find that your intention will create criteria, which will determine what—out of the vast range of possible experiences—you are attending to at the time, will help you reach your goal. In short, what you intend determines what you perceive in your world. Intention is the seed you need to plant to grow your creativity.

Let us imagine that your intention is to make a canoe. You will have, at first, some idea of the kind of canoe you wished to make. You will visualize the kind of canoe you wish to make. You will visualize the canoe, then you will go into the woods and look at the trees. Your desired outcome will determine your criteria for the tree you need. Your criteria might involve size, usefulness, and beauty of the tree. Your criteria might involve size, seating, usefulness, and design. Criteria both filter your perceptions and invest a particular situation with meaning and thereby, informing your experience and behavior at the time. Out of the many trees in the woods, you will end up focusing on the few that meet your criteria, until you found find the perfect tree.

You will cut the tree down; remove the branches from the trunk; take off the bark; hollow out the trunk; carve the outside shape of the hull; form the prow and the stern; and then, perhaps, carve decorations on the prow. In this way you will produce the canoe.

The process is so ordinary, so simple, so direct that we fail to see the beauty and simplicity of it. You have the intention to make a canoe, visualize an outcome, and give birth to something whole, a canoe. Your intention to make a canoe gives you direction and also imposes criteria on your choices, consciously and unconsciously.

Intention has a way of bringing to our awareness only those things our brains deem important. You’ll begin to see ideas for your canoe pop up everywhere in your environment. You’ll see them in tables, magazines, on television, and in other structures, while walking down the street. You’ll see them in the most unlikely things, — such as a refrigerator, — that you use every day without giving them much thought. How the brain accomplishes such miracles has long been is one of neuroscience’s great mysteries.

Your Thoughts are Tiny Spins

http://rsrc.psychologytoday.com/files/imagecache/article-inline-half/blogs/65246/2012/06/98798-96146.jpg

We have all played with magnets when we were children. A magnetized object consists of a multitude of tiny little elements called “spins” (see the illustration). Each spin has a particular orientation corresponding to the direction of its magnetic field. In general, these spins will point in different directions, so that their magnetic fields cancel each other out (disordered spins are illustrated on the left). Spins pointing in opposite directions repel each other, like the north poles of two magnets that are brought together.

However, when the temperature decreases, the spins spontaneously align themselves, so that they all point in the same direction. Instead of cancelling each other, the different magnetic fields now support each other, producing a strong overall pattern. Spins pointing in the same direction attract each other, like the north pole of one magnet attracts attracting the south pole of another magnet. Magnetization is a good example of how forces aligned in the same direction attract and reinforce each other to create a dynamic, natural pattern. In the image on the left, the pattern is inconsistent and incoherent, while in the image on the right the pattern is straight, coherent, and dynamic.

Think of your thoughts as tiny spins in your brain. If you have no intention to be or to do something, your thoughts are disordered, with no direction, much like the tiny spins on the left. When you have a real intention to be or to do something, your thoughts now have purpose and automatically align with each other to form a dynamic mental state of awareness aimed in the direction of the intention.

This mental state is evident in the work of Hashem Akbari, an environmentalist activist and a scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, who is always thinking of ways to offset carbon dioxide emissions. His intention to offset carbon dioxide guides his observations in daily life. One day he noticed a house with a white roof that reminded him of the large white structures in the Iranian desert that he saw as a child. The white structures captured the night wind to cool the building, keeping the people inside comfortable.

This observation startled him because he realized that “dark” materials absorb heat; and whereas if roofs were “white” they would reflect the heat. Musing, he wondered about what the effect would be if all roofs were white. After making a study of the matter, he concluded that, if the 100 hundred largest cities in the world replaced their dark roofs with white surfaces, and their asphalt-based roads with concrete or other light-colored materials, it could offset 44 billion tons of carbon dioxide. According to Akbari’s Island Group, this is equivalent to taking the world’s approximately 600 million cars off the road for 18 years. That amounts to more greenhouse gas than the entire human population emits in one year.

Akbari’s intention tuned his brain to a higher level, which substantially increased the likelihood of him his noticing opportunities in his environment. Your brain processes only a tiny portion of your environment at a time. It risks being overwhelmed by the volume of information that bombards you every waking moment. Your brain compensates by filtering out the 99.9 percent of your environment that doesn’t matter to you.

“Intention” works. Try another simple experiment: focus on a penny. Visualize it. Now say to yourself silently that you are going to find a penny on the ground. Then, look for the penny every time you take a walk. Concentrate on finding a penny. After you find a penny, go looking for a second one. How long did it take to find the first penny? Compare the time it takes to find the second penny with the time it took to find the first? Now look for a third, fourth, and fifth, and so on. You will amaze yourself at with the number of lost pennies on the ground that, you previously, you did not see.

http://rsrc.psychologytoday.com/files/imagecache/article-inline-half/blogs/65246/2012/06/98798-96148.jpg

Now look at the illustration with blobs. Before you read further, think for a moment and imagine what it could represent. No doubt you can imagine a variety of things.

The blobs could represent a map of part of the world, the state of Alaska jutting out, a child’s face, a view of earth from a satellite, white paint splattered on a black wall, a view of the sky through jungle foliage, an alien life form, energy forces caused by oppositional political views,  hidden faces, — in fact, anything at all.

What you think about, you bring about. Now suppose I tell you that there is a cow hidden in the illustration, and I ask you to find it. If you take the attitude that there cannot be a cow in the illustration or, perhaps, there may or may not be a cow in the drawing, it will be difficult to find the cow. You’ll spend your time and energy imagining all the reasons why there is no cow. But if you believe there is a cow and intend to find the cow, you will find it. Think: “I must find the cow.” It may take minutes, but it will emerge. You will see the face of a cow staring back at you.

How is this possible? How can you see a cow simply by looking for a cow in a sketch of meaningless blobs? The drawing does not change. Your eyes do not change or improve. The only change is your intention. Your intention to find a cow generates your mental awareness of the cow. This awareness organizes the blobs in various ways in your mind until you see a cow.

BOOK REVIEW OF CREATIVE THINKERING BY CHRISTOPHER BOYD

We read ’em, so you don’t have to! As the nuns used to say, put on your thinking caps. Remember that, when you’d have to fake-tie on your cap? (No, well this would be a good time to make fun of me, now wouldn’t it?) This month’s selection, Creative Thinkering by Michael Michalko, is like one long session with Sister Helen Margaret and the thinking cap. Michalko takes the reader through numerous thought experiments and exercises centered on the random approach to thinking and problem solving. Like last month’s recommended book, Tribal Leadership, this one is perfect for the business leader who is stuck and in need of new approaches to day-in-and-day-out challenges. With a cup of da Vinci here, a dose of van Gogh there, and a pinch of Picasso for good measure, this book reads like a Renaissance recipe for those in need of more creativity.

One of the key takeaways here comes toward the end, when the author challenges the reader with something he calls “the word pattern of impossibility.” Let’s say you don’t consider yourself to be the creative type; Michalko would say that you’ve likely stopped striving to become so. To address this malaise, he takes the reader through new ways of thinking to get from “I can’t be creative” to “I will be creative.” If you’re hearing a big of Stuart Smalley here, you’re not far off. (Let’s face it, you’re not going to tackle self-limiting thinking without it coming off as, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!”) But if you can get beyond that, you’ll find value in the author’s recommendations to go from impossibility, to possibility, to necessity, to certainty, to desire. His experiments are simple yet highly effective. The stories about utterly random strategies to overcoming tough challenges are remarkable, notably how one would-be author overcame the classic Catch-22 struggle of you can’t be published without an agent/you can’t get an agent if you’re not published that has to read twice to be believed.

The recurring theme in Creative Thinkering is that there are ways to return to our formative years, when spontaneity and creativity came naturally. Michalko claims that our schools ruined us for thinking, that it’s as if “we entered school as a question mark and graduated as a period.” And he hammers the point that “we see no more than we expect to see.” Retold here is the wonderful social experiment conducted by The Washington Post years ago, through which a world-class violinist, playing intricate material on a $3.5 million instrument in a Metro station was virtually ignored by everyone save for children who tried to stop and listen. Adults assumed a bum was playing for tips; children heard what was real – a rare talent who had sold out a concert hall two days before. If you’re up for starting 2013 by taking a different tack to your average day’s occurrences, this book will surely help you get there.

KUDOS FOR CREATIVE THINKERING

Kudos from abroad from Aibek Ahmedov Legal Counsel at Europe Marine Group Ltd5h There are three persons in the world that I find motivating in my path to professional heights. It is Neil Patel, Michael Michalko and Mark Forsyth. However, one of them is a genius of creative thinking that made me change all my approaches to historical research, legal casuistry and content marketing.

I believe that the years will pass and after many years or maybe centuries, people will put Michael Michalko after Leonardo da Vinci in terms of creative thinking. My words are not an exaggeration and I recommend to all my colleagues and friends to read Michalko’s Creative Thinkering in order to understand what I was talking about.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/160868024X/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_XUhvxb0YKA63R … via @amazon

DESCRIBE YOUR LIFE IN SIX WORDS

Ernst Hemingway was once challenged to write a story in six words. He wrote “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Legend has it that Hemingway called it his best work. Hemingway’s story spawned the six word story popularized by Smith Magazine which celebrates personal storytelling. Editors asked their readers to submit six word memoirs of their life and were mesmerized with the offerings, some of which follow:

“Cursed with cancer, blessed with friends.”

“Love me or leave me alone.”

“I still make coffee for two.”

“Hockey is not just for boys.”

“I like big butts, can’t lie.”

“Should never have bought that ring.”

“Ex-wife and contractor now have house.”

Steven Pinker’s six word memoir published in Smith Magazine’s book “Not  Quite What I Was Planning” reads: “Struggled with how the mind works.” His memoir inspired me to request my Think Tank participant’s to voluntarily write six word stories on certain subjects. The results have been humorous and edifying. Following are some of the six word responses describing being involved with innovation.

They asked. I thought. I created.

Ideas; I get them in excess.

Look at it from different perspectives.

How would a child do this?

Successful when ignoring what happened before

Made many mistakes before I succeeded

Followed logic, not intuition, never again

I’m enjoying even this horrific problem

Doing more for less is creativity

In and out of many ideas

Others quit early. I continue looking.

Time to start over again, again

To succeed, learn how to fail.

Work but spend time doing nothing.

I am still not seeing everything.

Approach problems on their own terms.

Many bad before one good idea.

Think about it in a different way.

Always work on the next idea.

Left brain job, work right brain.

The proof is in the pudding.

Here are some six word responses describing creative inspiration.

Last night confused. Slept. Morning. Eureka!

Dancing with ideas of infinite possibilities.

Think, dream, persevere, gain new perspectives.

Ideas have sex in my imagination

Took rocks, pounded them into sculptures.

Find great ideas in what’s discarded.

Connect the unconnected to create ideas.

I am trying in every way.

Waiting quietly for that special thought.

Bring it to a boil, often.

Tombstone won’t say, did not try.

I learned to expect the unexpected.

Learn to color outside the lines.

I’m not afraid of problems anymore.

Learn to be tolerant of ambiguity.

What six-word memoir represents your life?

Learn to make the familiar unfamiliar.

http://www.creativethinking.net

READER REVIEWS OF CREATIVE THINKERING BY MICHAEL MICHALKO

CREATIVE THINKERING

Putting Your Imagination To Work

Reader Reviews from Amazon and Barnes & Noble

ANOTHER MASTERPIECE FROM THE MASTER

Michael Michalko will take you on a delicious ride to the next evolutionary level of understanding why creative thinking is often counterintuitive and what methods work to break stilted thinking. Not a day goes by that I don’t employ several of Michael’s methods. I hope you utilize and enjoy the genius found in CREATIVE THINKERING to carve out a new way of thinking and living that will bring you the fulfillment those methods have brought me. Michael Michalko is the only writer on creativity who offers palpable, common sense tools you can put to work on a daily basis. It is beyond me why anyone would not want to have all of Michalko’s books. Simple methods, inexpensive, fascinating, fun . . . and they produce results.

– Terry H. Stickels

 LEARN TO THINK CREATIVELY

Creative Thinkering by Michael Michalko provides readers with actionable methods to tap into and broaden their natural creativity. Aimed at those who question their imaginative abilities, Michael reveals a systematic approach to generating new ideas through the association of two or more dissimilar subjects; resulting in the generation of entirely new products, services, and methods.

Throughout Creative Thinkering, Michael provides detail rich examples of his method’s application as well as challenging the reader to develop his or her own capabilities through numerous thought experiments. These elements transform this book from one that simply provides a method into one that is a teaching manual; helping even the most rigid of thinkers expand their creative horizons.

I like Creative Thinkering because of its immediately implementable methods for expanding one’s creative output. Michael clearly illustrates that anyone can be highly creative and through his plentiful thought experiments convinces even the most rigid thinkers that they too can be the source of highly original ideas. In a fast moving world that requires continuous adaptation, Creative Thinkering can help arm any professional with a crucial skill needed to remain competitive.

I have long benefited from Michael’s insights on creativity. I thoroughly enjoyed his earlier book, Thinkertoys and have applied the methods he prescribes therein to my work almost every day. If I had one criticism of Creative Thinkering it would be that Michael’s new book is not as `fun’ as his last – but it is by all accounts just as valuable.

Overcoming ones creative doubts is a key ingredient to taking the actions necessary to remain competitive in our highly innovative and rapidly changing world. Michael’s book provides those with such doubts a clear method for dealing with their rigidness and conceiving the truly unique; making Creative Thinkering a Strategy Driven recommended read.

– Nathan Ives

 UNIMAGINED POSSIBILITIES

Creative Thinkering by Michael Michalko is a superb book! It is filled with tangible ways to learn how to think and see the world in a different manner. I promise you, you did not learn how to do this in school. For example, were you ever taught a tangible and effective way to tap into your subconscious to solve any pressing problem?

Do you think dancers and scientists have any reason to collaborate? What do they have in common? Michael Michalko opens our eyes to the concept of essence. Think about the essence of movement from different domains. Scientists study movement in superconductivity and dancers are experts in movement. We are introduced to the concept of conceptual blending. Thus the two worlds collide and we see scientists and dancers collaborate. Our eyes and minds are opened to new ways of thinking.

If you want to determine the DNA for your organization, Michael Michalko shares with you practical advice you can apply immediately. Within Creative Thinkering, you will find real stories and thought experiments that capture the essence of creativity.

You must read Creative Thinkering: Putting Your Imagination to Work and begin to apply it immediately. Your professional and personal life will be opened to new and unimagined possibilities. Your subconscious is like an egg, quiet on the outside; however, change is taking place inside.

Reading and applying Creative Thinkering brings out our creative potential. For professionals like me, Creative Thinkering is the best return on investment and return on time for your organization to become more creative.

Since creativity is now understood to be the number one competency needed by organizations, then Creative Thinkering will provide the knowledge you need to develop creative competency. I strongly recommend you read Creative Thinkering by Michael Michalko.

– Connie Harryman American  – Creativity Association

 A MAJOR CONTRIBUTION TO THE CREATIVE THINKING LITERATURE BY ONE OF THE GREATS 

Sorry for the gushing title, but this book really hit the creativity spot. Michael Michalko is one of the big minds in the teaching of creative thinking and this book demonstrates why. Beginning from the principle that new ideas are the combination of existing things in new ways, Michalko describes the mindset and perspectives that are required to promote personal creativity – looking at things differently, combining random items with existing inputs, running thought experiments, for example. Michalko also provides an incredible list of positive affirmations with which to start the day to ensure a creative, positive and open attitude. It’s not your typical list of standard one-liners, but a list of affirmations that connect and build on each other. This is a segment of the lesson on playing the part of the creative person to become creative. The book also includes many powerful visuals and exercises that reinforce the lessons and points. Michalko does a masterful job of pointing out exactly how we are defective in our thinking and how we can get out of those mental ruts to revive the creative spirit we had in childhood. A must book for anyone seeking to become more creative.

– Book Voice

 BOOK REPORT FROM MURPHY BUSINESS

We read ’em, so you don’t have to! As the nuns used to say, put on your thinking caps. Remember that, when you’d have to fake-tie on your cap? (No, well this would be a good time to make fun of me, now wouldn’t it?) This month’s selection, Creative Thinkering by Michael Michalko, is like one long session with Sister Helen Margaret and the thinking cap. Michalko takes the reader through numerous thought experiments and exercises centered on the random approach to thinking and problem solving. Like last month’s recommended book, Tribal Leadership, this one is perfect for the business leader who is stuck and in need of new approaches to day-in-and-day-out challenges. With a cup of da Vinci here, a dose of van Gogh there, and a pinch of Picasso for good measure, this book reads like a Renaissance recipe for those in need of more creativity.

One of the key takeaways here comes toward the end, when the author challenges the reader with something he calls “the word pattern of impossibility.” Let’s say you don’t consider yourself to be the creative type; Michalko would say that you’ve likely stopped striving to become so. To address this malaise, he takes the reader through new ways of thinking to get from “I can’t be creative” to “I will be creative.” If you’re hearing a big of Stuart Smalley here, you’re not far off. (Let’s face it, you’re not going to tackle self-limiting thinking without it coming off as, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!”) But if you can get beyond that, you’ll find value in the author’s recommendations to go from impossibility, to possibility, to necessity, to certainty, to desire. His experiments are simple yet highly effective. The stories about utterly random strategies to overcoming tough challenges are remarkable, notably how one would-be author overcame the classic Catch-22 struggle of you can’t be published without an agent/you can’t get an agent if you’re not published that has to read twice to be believed.

The recurring theme in Creative Thinkering is that there are ways to return to our formative years, when spontaneity and creativity came naturally. Michalko claims that our schools ruined us for thinking, that it’s as if “we entered school as a question mark and graduated as a period.” And he hammers the point that “we see no more than we expect to see.” Retold here is the wonderful social experiment conducted by The Washington Post years ago, through which a world-class violinist, playing intricate material on a $3.5 million instrument in a Metro station was virtually ignored by everyone save for children who tried to stop and listen. Adults assumed a bum was playing for tips; children heard what was real – a rare talent who had sold out a concert hall two days before. If you’re up for starting 2013 by taking a different tack to your average day’s occurrences, this book will surely help you get there.

– Christopher M. Bond

 HOW TO CONNECT ALL THE DOTS

Those who have read any of Michael Michalko’s previously published books, notably Cracking Creativity and Thinkertoys, already know that he has a unique talent for explaining the creative process (making something new) and the innovative process (making something better) and does so creatively and innovatively, in ways and to an extent that almost anyone can understand (a) what they are, (b) how they differ, (c) what they share in common, and (d) how to benefit from them.

In his latest book, he explains how and why conceptual blending of dissimilar subjects, ideas, and concepts is the most important factor in creative thinking. It is not only a matter of “connecting the dots,” although that skill important; it also involves “connecting the right dots in the right way” and, more importantly, being able to recognize especially important “dots” that others may not see, much less appreciate.

Michalko organizes his material within two Parts: Creative Thinking and The Creative Thinker. Obviously, the first focuses on various techniques, skills, drills, exempla, and exercises that explain what creative thinking is and can do. In Part II, he explains how almost anyone can become a much more creative thinker. More specifically, how to become much more alert for connections (especially between and among what are significantly dissimilar), intentionally thinking more creatively rather than haphazardly, changing the way one speaks in order to change the way one thinks (he devotes all of Chapter 12 to that), and “Becoming What You Pretend to Be,” the title of the next chapter. Long ago, Henry Ford observes, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” Michalko wholly agrees, noting that just as attitude can influence behavior, behavior can influence attitude. Of special interest to me is the “Thought Experiment” (“Velten’s Instructions,” on Pages 183-185″). I’ll say no more about it except this: What I learned from completing this exercises – all by itself – is worth far more than the cost of the book.

Here in Dallas, we have a farmers market near the downtown area at which several merchants offer slices of fresh fruit as a sample of their wares. In that spirit, I now provide a representative selection of Michalko’s insights from among the several hundred I carefully considered:

On Leonardo da Vinci: “His mind integrated information instead of segregating it. This is why he was polymathic. He created breakthroughs in art, science, engineering, military, science, invention, and medicine.” This is what Roger martin has in mind, n The Opposable Mind, when he discusses his concept of “integrative thinking.” Page 10

On the Edison research center in Menlo, Park (NJ): “Thomas Edison’s lab was a big barn with worktables set up side by side that held separate projects in progress. He would work on one project and then another. His workshop was designed to allow one project to infect a neighboring one, so that moves made here might also be tried there. This method of working allowed him to consistently rethink the way he saw his projects. You can use separate notebooks to do, in time, what Edison’s workshop did in space.” Page 70

On the creative thinker: Someone who is “a result of the assembly and interactions of certain critical human traits. First, you must have the intention and desire to be creative; second, you must consciously cultivate positive speaking and thinking patterns; and last, you must act like a creative thinker and go through the motions of being creative every day.” Page 145

On creating one’s own experiences: “Cognitive scientists have discovered that the brain is a dynamic system – an organ that evolves its patterns of activity rather than computes them like a computer. It thrives on the creative energy of feedback from experiences either real or fictional. An important point to remember is that you can synthesize experience, literally create it in your imagination. The human brain cannot tell the difference between an `actual’ experience and an experience imagined vividly and in detail.” Page 186

I presume to offer two suggestions to those who purchase this book: highlight key passages (my preference is for the Sharpie ACCENT wide tip pen with Smear Guard) and complete the several dozen “Thought Experiment” exercises using a notebook (my preference is the Mead Black Marble Wide-Ruled Composition Book). This really is a workbook without spaces within which to complete the exercises. Fortunately, Michael Michalko has a very creative mind and thus has been into his book a lively and substantive interaction between his reader and the material he provides.

– Robert Morris

GEM STONE

I’ve found a real jewel of a book recently. Let me make a direct statement here: Michael Michalko’s new book Creative Thinkering — is a real gem stone. Just finished reading in one go on a flight across the pond — and it was a mind-bendingly delightful and informative read – Chicago to London has never gone so quickly.

Thought provoking and interactive, Creative Thinkering, really gets you…thinking…in a fresh way about the meaning and “how to” of invention and breakthrough problem solving. It’s packed with information about the nature of creativity. It flows logically, it has lots of juicy real life stories and examples, and it’s absolutely loaded with germane and fun visuals. I’d add that it’s also emotionally engaging and it has you realizing that, yes, I can be more creative. His “thinkering” exercises have you proving it to yourself, it’s really creative empowerment.

This book deserves a wide readership — creative thinking could use a breakthrough book. It’s one of the weird things about the field, that is, the people mostly likely to read a creativity book are those that don’t need it. Creative Thinkering bridges the perception gap and opens up creative vistas — even for those who don’t believe they have the creative gene. Creative Thinkering de-mystifies the mythology that surrounds creativity, although if anything I finish the book even more awestruck about the power of imagination. Michalko elaborates extensively on the concept of “conceptual blending” which, in essence, is a mash-up in someone’s mind of unrelated concepts that has them coming up with fresh, breakthrough ideas. This is a thinking capacity we all have, but one that few of us tap into. This conceptual blending is not an entirely new idea, but it’s never been so well explained. In summary, I’d say that Creative Thinkering provides greater access to creativity — served up in this gleaming silver platter of a book.

– Gregg Fraley

 WE NEED MORE CREATIVE THINKING

Whether you’re a would-be entrepreneur looking for a great idea or just love puzzles and how the mind works, if you want to get the creative juices flowing, this book is for you. It is all about breaking the “logical” patterns of thought we were taught in school that stifled the free imagination of our childhood. Using thought exercises and real life examples, Michalko guides us back to the territory of unfettered “thinkering” where we give our imagination free rein. He shows us how to combine dissimilar or even contradictory subjects and ideas, no matter how far out, in a process he calls “conceptual blending,” which he liberally illustrates with examples of how others have done it and guides us how to do it ourselves. This is the most important factor in creative thinking, according to Michalko, one of the most highly acclaimed creativity experts in the world and author of the best sellers Thinkertoys and Cracking Creativity.

Another useful approach is incubation – just letting the idea percolate for a while, especially overnight. This is what he calls, “letting God” put the pieces together. Michalko recommends that we make a practice of keeping notes about our ideas, observations, and creative attempts, and that we collect information about all the ideas, concepts and problems we are working on. You never know what will spark the creative connection and that “aha moment.”

One of the things I particularly enjoyed in the book was the abundance of riddles and optical illusions. (He always gives the answers at the end of each chapter.) Aside from being fun, they also illustrate the importance of being willing to change your perspective and look as something in a whole new way. At a time when the façades of so many political, financial and social institutions are crumbling, never has “creative thinkering” been more urgently needed.

– Miriam Knight

 A MAJOR CONTRIBUTION TO THE CREATIVE THINKING LITERATURE BY ONE OF THE GREATS

Sorry for the gushing title, but this book really hit the creativity spot. Michael Michalko is one of the big minds in the teaching of creative thinking and this book demonstrates why. Beginning from the principle that new ideas are the combination of existing things in new ways, Michalko describes the mindset and perspectives that are required to promote personal creativity – looking at things differently, combining random items with existing inputs, running thought experiments, for example. Michalko also provides an incredible list of positive affirmations with which to start the day to ensure a creative, positive and open attitude. It’s not your typical list of standard one-liners, but a list of affirmations that connect and build on each other. This is a segment of the lesson on playing the part of the creative person to become creative. The book also includes many powerful visuals and exercises that reinforce the lessons and points. Michalko does a masterful job of pointing out exactly how we are defective in our thinking and how we can get out of those mental ruts to revive the creative spirit we had in childhood. A must book for anyone seeking to become more creative.

– Vine Voice

THINKERING

This is a great book which clearly and elegantly describes how we can increase our creative thinking – much needed in a time when the old solutions don’t work with new problems – the more lateral and creative thinkers we have the better we will all be!

– Janet Mace

 WE NEED MORE CREATIVE THINKERING

Whether you’re a would-be entrepreneur looking for a great idea or just love puzzles and how the mind works, if you want to get the creative juices flowing, this book is for you. It is all about breaking the “logical” patterns of thought we were taught in school that stifled the free imagination of our childhood. Using thought exercises and real life examples, Michalko guides us back to the territory of unfettered “thinkering” where we give our imagination free rein. He shows us how to combine dissimilar or even contradictory subjects and ideas, no matter how far out, in a process he calls “conceptual blending,” which he liberally illustrates with examples of how others have done it and guides us how to do it ourselves. This is the most important factor in creative thinking, according to Michalko, one of the most highly acclaimed creativity experts in the world and author of the best sellers Thinkertoys and Cracking Creativity.

Another useful approach is incubation – just letting the idea percolate for a while, especially overnight. This is what he calls, “letting God” put the pieces together. Michalko recommends that we make a practice of keeping notes about our ideas, observations, and creative attempts, and that we collect information about all the ideas, concepts and problems we are working on. You never know what will spark the creative connection and that “aha moment.”

One of the things I particularly enjoyed in the book was the abundance of riddles and optical illusions. (He always gives the answers at the end of each chapter.) Aside from being fun, they also illustrate the importance of being willing to change your perspective and look as something in a whole new way. At a time when the façades of so many political, financial and social institutions are crumbling, never has “creative thinkering” been more urgently needed.

– Miriam Knight  – “New Consciousness Review”

 ONE IDEA = 4 MILLION DOLLARS

As an innovation consultant, I have been working closely with clients in 3 major aspects: (1) Process streamlining, (2) Strategy formulation, and (3) New product / Service development. Each project is different and requires careful analysis of the challenges and business needs, an in-depth investigation of internal and external constraints, crafting of intervention strategies and last but not least the development of a thoughtful implementation plan. Having said that, the bedrock of every success is still “IDEA”. Steve Jobs, Founder of Apple Computer (now Apple Inc.), once said, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” He is pointing us to the right direction but the question is “How can we become the first person who comes up with that brilliant ideas”.

2 years ago, we worked with HSBC on an organization wide CHANGE initiative aiming to increase their STAFF ENGAGEMENT LEVEL. We trained up 60+ champions, using Michael Michalko’s techniques, to lead internal THINK TANKS to brainstorm improvement ideas. In one of the think tanks, the members used the SCAMPER technique in great details to analyze their existing operation and came up with an idea of ELIMINATING (E as in SCAMPER) the plastic label on which the customers have to sign their names for checking purposes. The end result is an annual saving of 4 Million dollars plus 3 awards and dozens of media exposure. The teller who submitted the idea received a generous reward for her contribution and the customers enjoy the ease of transaction. This is a classic illustration of INNOVATION: Creating values for all stakeholders.

Michael Michalko practices what he teaches. In his every book, he uses lots of business cases, puzzles and exercises to illustrate his point. I like reading his books because it is both an intellectual and an spiritual / emotional venture. His books are highly practical and a real joy to read and a real treasure to refer to whenever I am stuck. A gem indeed.

In his new book CREATIVE THINKERING, Michael extracted the essence of business creativity and came up with a SINGLE concept (i.e., CONCEPTUAL BLENDING) to explain what can be done to think like a genius. In the introduction of the book, he writes,

“In school you are taught to define, label, and segregate what you learn into separate categories…much like ice cubes in a tray. Once something is learned and categorized, you thoughts become frozen…you are taught, when confronted with a problem, to examine the ice cube tray and select appropriate cube [to kick start your problem solving process] …to come up with marginal improvements…”

The real trick to become a genius is to demolish the barriers and to BLEND unfamiliar concepts to come up with novel ideas. This is where you experience the magic moment of creating something groundbreaking. In this new book by Michael, he is going to show you how to do it. This is the INTELLECTUAL part. The SPIRITUAL / EMOTIONAL part is what I like most. There are a total of 60 extremely inspiring and challenging exercises (in a book with 13 chapters) to reveal weaknesses of your thinking process. No matter how smart you are, you will still learn something valuable. For those who travel a lot, these exercises are going to keep you busy (and happy!) and your long haul flights become much easier. For me, I set IDEA QUOTA for my flights. A short trip to Japan (5 hours), 5 ideas, a long haul to Paris (12 hours), 12 ideas…Of course, make sure you have Michael’s book with you, they are the recipe for imagination! Grab this before your competitors and USE IT!!!

– Kelvin Y C Fung

Michael Michalko

http://www.creativethinking.net

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EINSTEIN EXPLAINS HOW WE THINK AND WHY WE BELIEVE WHAT WE BELIEVE?

Einstein’s explanation

How do we think? Why do we believe what we believe. Einstein intuitively knew that thinking is speculative and how personal beliefs and theories distort what we observe. Once he observed jokingly, “If the facts don’t confirm your theory, change your facts.”

Einstein explained that psychologically, our beliefs and axioms rest upon our experiences. All experiences are neutral, you give it meaning by how you choose to interpret it. There exists, however, no logical path from experience to an axiom, but only an intuitive connection based on our interpretation of the experience, which is always subject to revocation. These interpretations shape our beliefs and perceptions which determine our theories about the world. Finally, our theories determine what we observe in the world and, paradoxically, we only observe what confirms our theories.Bottom of Form

At one time, ancient astronomers believed that the heavens were eternal and made of ether. This theory made it impossible for them to observe meteors as burning stones from outer space. Although the ancients witnessed meteor showers and found some on the ground, they couldn’t recognize them as meteors from outer space. They sought out and observed only those things that confirmed their theory about the heavens.

We are like the ancient astronomers and actively seek out only that information that confirms our beliefs and theories about ourselves and the world. Religious people see evidence of God’s handiwork everywhere; whereas, atheists see evidence of the absence of God everywhere. Conservatives see the evils of liberalism everywhere and liberals see the evils of conservatism everywhere. In fact, you do not need to watch and listen to either Fox or MSNBC because you already know what their position will be on any given political issue.

Many of us are taught that belief is the result of reasoned thought which informed you and then you chose to believe or not believe. But actually, your beliefs are shaped by your subjective interpretations of your experiences. When you are thinking something, you have the feeling that the thoughts do nothing except inform you, and then you choose to do something and do it. But actually, the way you think and what you think is determined by your theories about yourself and life. Thought controls you more than you realize.  

The following story illustrates how a person’s theory determines what is observed and how what is observed is interpreted according to the person’s theory.

Religious beliefs polarize many humans. Some will say there is no scientific evidence that God exists, therefore there is no God. Others say the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence; therefore we must have faith that God exists to give meaning to our existence.

The university professor challenged his students with this question. Did God create everything that exists? A student bravely replied, “Yes, he did!”

      “God created everything? The professor asked. “Yes sir”, the student replied.

The professor answered, “If God created everything, then God created evil since evil exists, and according to the principal that our works define who we are then God is evil”. The student became quiet before such an answer.

Another student raised his hand and said, “Can I ask you a question professor?”

“Of course”, replied the professor.

The student stood up and asked, “Professor does cold exist?”

“What kind of question is this? Of course it exists. Have you never been cold?”

The young man replied, “In fact sir, cold does not exist. According to the laws of physics, what we consider cold is in reality the absence of heat. Every body or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (-460 degrees F) is the total absence of heat; all matter becomes inert and incapable of reaction at that temperature. Cold does not exist. We have created this word to describe how we feel if we have no heat.”

The student continued, “Professor, does darkness exist?” The professor responded, “Of course it does.” The student replied, “Once again you are wrong sir, darkness does not exist either. Darkness is in reality the absence of light. Light we can study, but not darkness. In fact we can use Newton’s prism to break white light into many colors and study the various wavelengths of each color. You cannot measure darkness. A simple ray of light can break into a world of darkness and illuminate it. How can you know how dark a certain space is? You measure the amount of light present. Isn’t this correct? Darkness is a term used by man to describe what happens when there is no light present.”

Finally the young man asked the professor, “Sir, does evil exist?” Now uncertain, the professor responded, “Of course as I have already said. We see it every day. It is in the daily example of man’s inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil.” To this the student replied, “Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is not like faith, or love that exist just as does light and heat. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God’s love present in his heart. It’s like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light.”

The young student’s name purportedly was— Albert Einstein. Einstein, himself, neither confirmed nor denied he was the student.

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Michael Michalko is the author of Creative Thinkering: Putting Your Imagination to WorkThinkertoys: Handbook of Creative Thinking TechniquesCracking Creativity: The Secrets of Creative Genius, and ThinkPak: A Brainstorming Card Deck

http://www.creativethinking.net

Answer to C S R I E X L E A T T T E R E S Problem

Restate the problem in different ways.

See if you can cross out six letters to make a single word out of the following:

C S R I E X L E A T T T E R E S



If you’re having difficulty, it may be that you need to restate the problem. Were you trying to cross out 6 letters? The real solution is to cross out the letters in the words “six letters,” which leaves you with a single word: CREATE.

You should almost always ask the following questions:

– What information do I have?
– What don’t I know?
– What can I extract from the known information?
– Have I used all the information?
– What additional information do I need?
– What are the parts of the problem?
– How are the parts related?
– Is this in any way like a problem I’ve solved before?

Remember, to think more creatively you must find ways to job yourself out of mental sets and habitual modes of thought. Michalko

Michael Michalko is the author of Creative Thinkering: Putting Your Imagination to WorkThinkertoys: Handbook of Creative Thinking TechniquesCracking Creativity: The Secrets of Creative Genius, and ThinkPak: A Brainstorming Card Deck

htttp://www.creativethinking.net

THE UNIFYING PRINCIPLE IN CREATIVITY

                        

Genius is often marked by the ability to imagine comparisons and similarities and even similar differences between parallel facts and events in different fields or “other worlds.” Why is X like Y? If X works in a certain way, why can’t Y work in a similar way? Alexander Graham Bell observed the comparison between the inner workings of the ear and the movement of a stout piece of membrane to move steel and conceived the telephone. Thomas Edison invented the phonograph, in one day, after developing an analogy between a toy funnel and the motions of a paper man and sound vibrations. Moreover, the way buzzards kept their balance in flight served as an analogy for the Wright brothers when maneuvering and stabilizing an airplane.

Your mind is lying in wait for some cue or suggestion that will initiate thinking about your problem in a different way. When you use analogies between your subject and a subject in another world you produce cues and hints that will make novel combinations and connections more likely. 14-year-old Philo Farnsworth’s interest in farming gave him the cue that led to television. One day, while sitting on a hillside in Idaho, he observed the neat rows in a nearby farm. The neat rows inspired the idea of creating a picture on a cathode ray tube out of rows of light and dark dots. He was 14 at the time, and the next year he presented his concept at a high-school science fair, and he also demonstrated the first working model of a television set when he was 21.

A heart surgeon became a fan of Edward Deming, the noted management consultant, and studied his industrial management techniques and attended his seminars. He convinced a group of heart surgeons to apply Deming’s techniques to their practice. By applying industrial management techniques to heart surgery, they learned how to share information about how they practiced and stopped functioning as individual craftspeople. They reduced the death rate among their patients by one/fourth.

There is a unifying principle in creativity dating all the way back to the “Big Bang.” Creativity is thinking inclusively and conceptually blending dissimilar subjects. You look for ways to include subjects in your thinking, not ways to exclude them. ‘This principle is found in all acts of creativity in all fields. Look at the similarities between the discover of the “law of continuity” by

Leonardo da Vinci and de Mistral’s invention of Velcro.

Da Vinci blended two totally different systems. He associated the movement of water with the movement of human hair, thus becoming the first person to illustrate in extraordinary detail the many invisible subtleties of water in motion. His observations led to his all-important discovery of a fact of nature which came to be called the “Law of Continuity.” Similarly, de Mistral blended two different worlds, the world of vegetation (burrs) with the world of zippers to invent Velcro.

Samuel Morse, for example, became stumped trying to figure out how to produce a signal strong enough to be received over great distances. Larger generators were not enough. One day he saw tired horses being exchanged at a relay station. He made the connection between relay stations for horses and strong signals and solved the problem. The solution was to give the traveling signal periodic boosts of power. This made the coast-to-coast telegraph possible. Nickla Tesla made a connection between the setting sun and a motor. His insight was to have the motor’s magnetic field rotate inside the motor just as the sun (from our perspective) rotates and created the AC motor with electricity reversing direction many times per second.

Albert Einstein once famously remarked “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” All creators who have created change in the world understand what the imagination provides. Consider Louis Braille who created a way for the blind to read and write. He was blinded in both eyes as a result of a childhood accident. He mastered his disability but was distraught by his inability to read and write. One day he was playing with a pinecone and he observed that the spears were all different sizes. By feeling the shape of the object and touching the different spears he by touching he recognized the object. That was when he realized that a system of tactile code could teach the blind how to read and write quickly and efficiently. He constructed his revolutionary system in 1824. His system is known as Braille and has been adapted for use in languages worldwide.

I have a friend who delights in surf boarding. Over the years he became increasingly concerned about the danger sharks cause surfers. His hobby was reading about the military and the various wars. One day after surfing, he relaxed on the beach reading about the Normandy invasion. He was fascinated with how the allies used decoys such as rubber tanks, canvas ships, plywood aircraft, and even dummy soldiers to fool the Germans about where we secretly planned to land on D-Day. Consequently, Hitler became convinced that the landing would occur at Calais a hundred miles north of Normandy. Accordingly, he refused to order a counteroffensive at Normandy and the allies won WWII.

The success of using camouflage intrigued my friend. I challenged him to use his creativity and come up with a way to camouflage his surfboard. How could he use camouflage to hide a surfboard from sharks? He studied sharks and discovered they had terrific eyesight and were extremely cautious when searching for food. He discovered that they look for easy prey and sneak up on it from below and attack it before the prey is aware of its presence. He partnered with an artist and they painted two large evil-looking eyes on the bottom of a surfboard. Underwater, looking up at the bottom of the surfboard it looked like a large hostile fish looking down at you and getting ready to attack. The tests were amazing. As soon as sharks saw the camouflaged surfboard, they took off as fast as they could.

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Why isn’t everyone creative? Why doesn’t education foster more ingenuity? Why is expertise often the enemy of innovation? Best-selling creativity expert Michael Michalko shows that in every field of endeavor, from business and science to government, the arts, and even day-to-day life — natural creativity is limited by the prejudices of logic and the structures of accepted categories and concepts. Through step-by-step exercises, illustrated strategies, and inspiring real-world examples he shows readers how to liberate their thinking and literally expand their imaginations by learning to synthesize dissimilar subjects, think paradoxically, and enlist the help of the subconscious mind. He also reveals the attitudes and approaches diverse geniuses share — and anyone can emulate. Fascinating and fun, Michalko’s strategies facilitate the kind of light-bulb moment thinking that changes lives — for the better.

Michael Michalko is the author of the highly acclaimed Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative Thinking Techniques; Cracking Creativity: The Secrets of Creative Genius; ThinkPak: A Brainstorming Card Deck and Creative Thinkering: Putting Your Imagination to Work. creativethinking.net/#sthash.SXV5T2cu.dpbs

ANSWER

Two of the statements in this window are incorrect. Select which two they are:
 2 + 2 = 4

[6 x 2.5] ÷ 2 = 7.5

210 – 34 = 176


64 ÷ 8 = 8

5 x 7 = 34

Two of the statements in this window are incorrect.Select which two they are:





ANSWER
 2 + 2 = 4

[6 x 2.5] ÷ 2 = 7.5

210 – 34 = 176


64 ÷ 8 = 8 5 x 7 = 34

The two statements that are incorrect are the very first and the very last. (The first is incorrect because only one of the math problems is incorrect!)

If you got that, well done! If you didn’t I am sorry, but I told you it was maddening! The point is, we are constantly (and unconsciously) being selective about the options we consider. This limits our ability to solve problems. Far better to open our minds to all possible options.

Michael Michalko is the author of Creative Thinkering: Putting Your Imagination to WorkThinkertoys: Handbook of Creative Thinking TechniquesCracking Creativity: The Secrets of Creative Genius, and ThinkPak: A Brainstorming Card Deck

http://www.creativethinking.net