February 18, 2020
Why Only Some People
Get More New Clients in 2020 With This Link
” If you think
the way you’ve
always thought, you’ll get the
result you’ve always got.”
– Roy Mussel
Walk into a classroom full of first-graders and ask, “How many of you are artists?” Almost every little arm will go up.
Walk up to the same group, ten years later, and ask the same question. You might get a half-dozen raised hands.
Why the difference?
As we get older, the idea that only some of us can rightly be called “creative” is widespread.
But it’s hardly new. Nor is the wish that some of us can be more creative than we already are.
After all, Apple’s whole “Think Different” ad campaign from the late ’90s was built almost entirely on that premise.
But can we choose to “think different?”
Or are some of us doomed to be boring, no-talent lumps?
Let’s see if there’s an answer in today’s CR.
And let’s start by looking back to June 6, 1944.
This, of course, was the day of Operation Neptune, better known to you and your grandpa as “D-Day.”
At 6:30 am that morning, thousands of Allied troops pulled off the largest seaborne invasion in history, along a 50-mile stretch of beaches in Normandy, France.
Planning for the invasion wasn’t spur of the moment. Strategy sessions had played out for months.
They knew they would need special equipment. But far more importantly, they knew they would need special sailors, soldiers, and pilots.
German anti-aircraft fire, for instance, would be thick. Even a top-notch flier would need something special to survive.
At first, the generals tried using intelligence tests to
pick the right candidates.
But intelligence alone turned out to be a useless indicator.
What they needed were pilots who could think fast and revise flight paths, literally on the fly.
And creative cognitive ability, it turned out, wasn’t perfectly correlated with a high IQ.
Lucky for them, around the same time, a psychologist from the University of Southern California had just identified key differences in “convergent” and “divergent” thinking.
Convergent thinking is the kind we’re used to on I.Q. tests and in math and science textbooks.
It’s great for helping you find single, logical, and usually the most orthodox solution to a problem.
Divergent thinking, on the other hand, is where you spin-off on many different paths, widely exploring possibilities.
You might settle on one solution eventually. But the outcome will be highly dependent on context.
For the generals, it turned out testing pilots for divergent thinking ability was the key.
The faster they could shift to a new plan, based on sudden or unexpected change, the better.
That ability isn’t completely divorced from IQ, of course. But it isn’t smarts alone that makes that shift possible.
So what is it, then, that gives that extra edge?
For that, let’s turn to another study, this time reported by Scientific American.
They relate the case of a 43-year old art teacher in San Francisco.
For most of her life, she’d been a painter. She even took a job teaching art later in life. But suddenly, she could no longer do her job.
Lesson plans confused her. She couldn’t focus while grading projects. Before long, she couldn’t remember student names.
So she retired and went to see a neurologist.
He did a brain scan and found dementia damage to her frontal and temporal lobes. And it was progressive.
Eventually, she started losing her speech abilities. She also lost some control of herself in social situations, which is sadly common with dementia.
But then something else happened.
Even as other skills waned, her creative powers seemed to explode. As a painter, she became incredibly expressive, emotional, and far more prolific.
The neurologist, who she still saw regularly, compared her case to others and found similar creative bursts.
And not just in ex-painters. Even patients who had never thought of themselves as artistic or creative before developed new talents.
So what’s this mean?
Well, first, in the case of the D-Day pilots, it’s clear that creativity matters.
And that, though we tend to think of creative people as ‘smart,’ there’s something else at work.
With this art teacher, and even with other dementia patients, we can see further that some of us might have hidden or repressed creative talents, ready to be unleashed.
That still doesn’t answer the question, though, about whether you can choose to “think different.”
For that, let’s take a look at one more common — if mistaken — idea about creativity.
You’ve heard, I’m sure, that there are “right-brained” and “left-brained” people.
Like a lot of generalizations, this is an over-simplification. But it’s still worth exploring.
The idea is — or was — that “left-brained” people are analytical and that “right-brained” people are artistic.
So, accountants vs. poets.
The truth is that many parts of your brain, on both halves, tend to fire at once.
In some areas, we process details, calculations, and conclusions that convergent thinking.
In others, we tend to fly between abstract associations, forming connections where there weren’t any, which is more like the pattern for divergent thinking.
Stroke patients who lose power in those analytical parts tend to lose logic and language but may suddenly become more creative. But they can also seem uninhibited and scattered.
Those who suffer damage to the abstract thinking parts may be able to speak and act “normally,” but can have trouble with anything beyond superficial, immediate thinking.
The good news is that, at least for some of those patients, months of therapy can help them regain some lost ability.
Likewise, the rest of us aren’t completely confined to being one or the other — that is, you don’t have to be JUST analytical or JUST creative.
Your brain can be trained, at least to some extent, to do both at a higher level than you might enjoy right now.
Certainly, he was gifted right out of the gate with some incredible powers of logic and process.
He did the math, in other words, just as it had been done before he came along.
But, through dedicated application, he also made the leap to creativity, finding new mathematical associations.
Sure, you’re saying, but that’s Einstein.
And yet, there are ways that everybody — even not-Einsteins — can increase both creative AND logical talents.
One very simple way to get that process started is to just stop believing in the “fixed” idea that you’ll never be creative.
In other words, just make an active habit of reminding yourself that it’s better to be curious and bold.
A bit like the first-grader who sees himself as an artist. And who forgets to stop telling himself that.
Of course, you can’t just believe yourself into being something. You have to put that belief into practice.
And it still might not get you there.
Some people are just crap at drawing. Or writing. Or music. Or science and whatever else it is you hope to do creatively.
But certainly, you’ll be better at it than you would be if you’d never taken a shot.
Another way to “be” more creative is to regularly reset your attitudes toward convention.
That is, simply repeat to yourself that the way things have always been done isn’t always the way they HAVE to be done.
Even better, accept right now that sometimes it takes time for an idea to transform into something great.
A lot of people who think they lack a creative gene actually just lack patience. And curiosity.
Sometimes, to come up with a new and creative approach to a problem, you need to fill your mind with facts and data and then just wait to see what comes together.
This is what researchers call “detail fermentation.” That’s a fancy way of saying, “Do your homework and then go take a walk. Or a shower. Or a drive. And see what happens.”
I’m sure you’ve heard so-called creative people say this before. It’s also why I don’t believe in “writer’s block.”
When a writer lacks output, it’s usually — I find — because he lacks inputs. It’s a bit like trying to throw a pot with no clay.
I find it’s like the logical parts of a brain have an appetite for information. If you satisfy them, they relax.
Then you and the more creative parts can go off somewhere and stitch those facts together, forming brand new connections.
Those new connections are what we call “creativity.”
To sum up, maybe you don’t think you’re creative. And maybe you’re right.
But maybe, just maybe, you’ve just gotten saddled with antiquated ideas about how creativity works. It’s not just innate genius.
At some level, it’s also a choice.
That is, you can deepen your creative abilities, at least a little and maybe a lot, by actively reminding yourself to ask questions more often.
Where there are habitual solutions in place, you can try to imagine alternative ways of doing a thing. Make it a game.
Most importantly, you can remind yourself that — while sudden inspiration can still happen — many more great ideas aren’t as spontaneous as they seem. They evolve over time.
If you learn to trust that process, you’ll be more open to soaking up information, talking it out, and waiting for ideas to stitch together.
When “geniuses” write ideas on napkins, they’re often not getting hit out of the blue with an idea. You’re just seeing the final moment where a lot of little details have finally come together.
To sum up even more tightly, curiosity and research.
And a little time.
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We all know that business is incredibly competitive today. It’s important to be good at your craft and deliver superior service, but these things alone are no longer enough to ensure your continued success.
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Find many other creative bits of copywriting info here: http://copywritersroundtable.com
This last bit isn’t open to interpretation: All the above is © 2020 by John Forde.
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