in Cognitive Wisdom

7 behavioural pillars of Creativity


There are three classes of people: those who see, those who see when shown, and those that do not see: Leonardo Da Vinci

Most of us believe that some people, like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are simply born with creative genes, while others are not. Creative people are supposedly right brained, meaning that they are genetically endowed with creative abilities. The rest of us lesser mortals are left brained—logical, linear thinkers, with limited or no ability to think creatively…

You’re wrong…! Virtually everyone has some capacity for creativity and innovative thinking. Even you.

Critical insights from numerous research has shown that one’s ability to generate creative ideas is not merely a function of the mind, but also a function of our behaviours. This is good news for all because it means that we can improve our creative impact by changing our behaviours.

Seven behavioural pillars on which you can build creativity are:

COMBINATORY PLAY: This is the process of taking unrelated things (thoughts, ideas, topics, images, disciplines, etc.) and putting them together to generate new and useful idea.
The best example of combinatory play is E=mc2. Einstein took the concepts of energy, mass and the speed of light and combined them together, which enabled him to look at the universe in a different way. Even Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press embodied this combinatorial creativity. Innovators associate ideas that are previously unconnected either to solve problems or create something new. However, when forming teams, keep cross-pollination of experiences and perspectives in mind. But you also need the glue. You need someone in the room with interdisciplinary understanding who can pull ideas together.

QUESTIONING: Innovators ask a ton of questions. In fact, they treat the world as a question. Managers ask ‘how’ questions — how are we going to achieve that growth, how are we going to stop this from happening. Innovators ask ‘why.’ They are the kids at the back of the class that the teacher hates (and often, the person in the meeting that the manager hates). Not only the habit of questioning helps you in filtering bullshit, but it also helps jolting people from the status quo.

OBSERVING BEYOND OBVIOUS: You can’t learn if you don’t observe. You need to inculcate a Keen habit of observing. This mindfulness is what allowed Sherlock Holmes to solve cases.

NETWORKING: Talking to diverse set of people is a great source of ideas. People offer different perspectives. They may have just failed at something but if you are a keen listener and observer you may be able to apply the same idea to a different problem. You just need to be open to their perspectives.

DEVELOPING INTUITIONS: Our intuitions can be trained and organised into a sort of analytical system of understanding the world, which has the potential of doubling our rational mind and providing us with a deeper insight of our lives. All you have to do is believe in this superpower of yours and use it as often as you can. Find a way to steer clear of all sort of noises that has become synonymous with modern lifestyle. And try listening to those subtler inner voices that possesses all the answers. Instead of questioning them, try to understand them.

EXPERIMENTING AND LEARNING FROM MISTAKES: We have created a culture – reinforced by society and habitually drilled into every students from an early age– that revolves around textbooks, lectures, grades and exams, where failing or not doing well are either unacceptable or wrongly considered a sign of weakness or a lack of intellect.
Whereas the truth is, every failure makes you humble. It shows that when you’re on an uncharted territory, there will always be fear of unknown, which is absolutely normal. Doing something no one else ever did means there’s a lot of hard work involved. So don’t get scared if you fail, because there is every likelihood of you being greeted by success right at the next bend of the corner. Therefore, fail often. Fail fast. Fail Cheap. Never give up. Try again.

ALTRUISM: I don’t think that people create exclusively for themselves. While it’s true that most of the creative work is done to remove stress, release the tension and know ourselves better. The creator also wants to offer the projection of her best self to the world. If you are a painter, for example, you might feel more creative when you start painting something with an intention to offer your work to someone as a gift. Therefore, before doing something creative, think of the good you can do for the world and aim high.

Remember, that the ability to look at problems in a non-standard way is definitely going to be the most sought after competency of the future.


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  1. Any selfless creation, for the betterment of others, will surely generate masterpiece. It would also lead to further evolution of an individual……