A Guide for Creative Thinking

Einstein said, “Every child is born a genius.”

But the reason most people don’t function at genius levels is because they’re not aware of how creative and smart they can be.

By practicing a few simple exercises, you can start your creative juices flowing. And you’ll amaze yourself by the quality and quantity of good ideas you come up with.

Keep in mind that your success in life is determined largely by the quantity of ideas you generate. The quality of ideas is secondary. If you have enough ideas, one or more of them will turn out to be prizewinners

What Is Creativity?

One of the best definitions of creativity is simply “improvement.” You don’t have to be super-smart to be creative. All you have to do is develop the ability to improve something in some way.

There are four parts to the creative process:

  1. Preparation, where much of the work is done.
  2. Cerebration (or reflection), where you turn matters over to your subconscious.
  3. Realization, where ideas come to you.
  4. Application, where you turn the creative idea into something worthwhile.

Of the four, preparation – gathering the right data and asking the right questions – is the most important.

Begin the preparation stage by asking focused questions like these:

  • What am I trying to do?
  • How am I trying to do it?
  • What are my assumptions?
  • What if my assumptions are wrong?

All improvements begin with questioning existing circumstances. If you’re not making progress, for any reason, begin asking yourself hard questions that stimulate your mind to consider other possibilities.

A second necessity for building creativity is having intensely desired goals.

The more you want something and the clearer you are about it, the more likely you will be to generate ideas that move you toward it.

Any intense emotion – like desire – stimulates creativity and ideas to fulfill that desire. And the more you write and review your goals and plans, the more you’ll see all kinds of possibilities for achieving those goals.

The third builder of creativity is having pressing problems.

When something is worrying you, thinking about what you could do immediately to begin easing that concern is a prime use of your creative powers.

So ask yourself, “What are the three biggest problems in my life today?” Write the answer in less than 30 seconds. When you answer a question in less than 30 seconds, your subconscious mind sorts out extraneous answers and gives you only the most important ones.

When you have your three most pressing problems, ask yourself, “What is the worst possible thing that can happen because of each of these problems?”

Then ask yourself, “What are all the things that I can do right now to lessen each of those problems?”

3 Keys to Success in Creativity

The first key to success in creative thinking is clarity. Take time to think through, discuss, and ask questions that 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.

The second key is concentration. Put everything else aside and focus all your mental powers on solving one single problem, overcoming one particular obstacle, or achieving one important goal.

The ability to concentrate on a single objective without diversion or distraction is a hallmark of the superior thinker.

The third key is an open mind. The average person tends to be rigid and fixed in his thinking. The creative thinker remains very flexible and open to a variety of ways to approach problems. The average person tends to leap to conclusions, deciding there is only one way to achieve a particular goal. The superior thinker is patient and willing to consider a variety of options before adopting a strategy.

You are a genius. You were born with the potential for exceptional creativity. But your creative abilities are like muscles: They grow with use. 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.

There are few things you can do that have a more powerful, positive impact on your entire life than becoming excellent at creative thinking. And you can do it … if you think you can.

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Published: December 4, 2006

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