Responses and Recommendations

Question A: Are you quick to find fault with ideas, yours or others?

Criticism comes easier than craftsmanship.

Ideaconstrictor.

The aniesome, poisonous, kid-eating m deep benrtf*»*

carton ww Have you ever seen the Gary L^fbedroo^ ffo°r Poor little Todd cant step loot on ™ ^ bed? for fear of the boa constrictor living W

There were monsters who used to terrorize^ 1

on thV droom- ,0°- 1 used ,alk t0 the C wallpaper (vintage 1950) tor comfort

,oday ^ 'augh. But then it was Virtual f °r me"lf ha(j ms 'rozen in tea;

■nuaily every n(ght m Mldhood the fears 8131 Prevent people m coming up with brilliant ideas are qu/te the same as those (hat haunted me and little Todd While unfounded. they limit us greatly, preventing us from venturing out from the comfort and security of our emotionaMnleJfeciual bed.

Fear is one of the biggest creative inhibitors. Actually there are many tears thai prevent us from beinq more creative. But the specific fear I'm talking about here is the fear of coming up ith a bad idea. Or. perhaps even more frustrating, tear of articulating an idea thai others might think is bad. Ouch. (Did that hit close to home?)

Forget the subject of "what's bad; which Is fodri another chapter. Here the issue is lettinnn of of bad ideas prevent u$ from even ? fear anything too out of the ordin* lder'ng formula tor the same old % a sure

Forget that you've hear* * th'nkin9-

Plenty of |hings « Ther undisputed pr00f ot ¿ne *orid thata^ ideas. Vou never bought Sence of bad as a bad idea" rran no thing Crap anyway, cJid yoJ

Yes, there are bad ideas. Yes. Yes. Absolutely. Yes, But that doesn't mean we need to be afraid of them. Because, no, a bad idea is not harmful. Not harmful at alt. (Beware: this scary story is continued on the following spread.)

During the fragile early stages of the creative process is not the time to test an idea's validity. Almost all new ideas have flaws. When you're too quick to judge, you often overlook what's worthwhile and drag down the entire creative process. Even if an idea isn't perfect, it's more constructive to look at what's good about it and keep making it better rather than to take the easy way out and drag it down.

If your answer is almost always or often, judgment is a problem area for you. You're much too judgmental when it comes to new ideas. Try to be more conscious of premature judgment and hold off as long as you can. If you don't improve here you seriously risk any consistent creative success. When you judge others' ideas, you risk alienating them and losing them as creative collaborators.

If your answer to question A is occasionally or rarely, you are sometimes judgmental when it comes to new ideas. Try to be more conscious of premature judgment and hold off evaluation as long as you can. You might be surprised at how many ideas look better in the light of a new day. You have nothing to lose and a great deal to gain.

If your answer to question A is never, this is an area of strength for you. It appears that you are not prone to quick negative judgments of new ideas as are most people.

Question B: How frequently do you get attached to how things are done?

Change your thoughts and you change your world.

—Norman Vincent Peale

When people are attached to how things are done, it means that they are not looking for better ways to do things. Resistance to change holds back progress and puts you in a compromising competitive position. Change is inevitable in every area of endeavor. Your field has likely undergone much change in the past, which needs to be recognized.

One sure way to avoid resisting change is to actually effect it! That's certainly what high achievers do.

If your answer is almost always or often, this is a problem area for you, as you're quite resistant to change and are much too attached to how things are done. You are missing major opportunities to improve things by being too attached to how things are done. You likely avoid the kinds of risk that change entails. But being as stuck as you are creates an even greater risk: being left behind by a world that is changing. You need to improve in this area for your very survival.

(scary story continued from previous you ask, with just a hint ot sKep

•„n as unthreatening as the Ideas are benign^ used to sieep under llWe, yellow, kitten ^ ^ ig(Jy iived next door.

the sola oftne stupidest, most potentially cx,Pn the are absolutely, totally, harmless disastrous a*rd here is potently. You see, And the Key harmleSs because they are not real ideas ar is They are on\y potential real as ideas, they are products of our imagination. Llke Tod(*'s snakes. Uke those monsters that had me talking to the wal1paper. Unlike Todd's snakes and my monsters, ideas can become real. Ml nmeone has to do is execute the idea, a t's real But until it's executed it's a I harmless, silly little idea, only

4 ,rp afraid ot ideas that are difterent. BU that are ne*. mysterious. ,deaS J 1-re afraid of the reaction miy y _______o" "That tVDe ot we iiiiyin y1"- - _

Of them. "Are you crazy?" "That type _ thing will never work." "That's dumb.

And we and the other detractors fail to realize that it's only an idea. We haven't risked anything yet by thinking about it. We haven't stuck our necks out. We haven't bet the ranch. We just formulated a concept that may or may not materialize. No harm. No need to worry. It's only an idea. A meek, little, fuzz.y,a brand-spankin' newborn kitten of an idea-

We need to learn this lesson. And ^gon. around us need to learn this same

Lesson: ListenWj^j„g

The only " e to

If your answer is occasionally or rarely, you are sometimes resistant to change and can be attached to how things are done. Perhaps you are a victim of your own success. When something works, people resist changing, but in so doing they are likely only holding back improvement.

If your answer is never, this is an area of strength for you. It appears you are not nearly as resistant to change as most people. But there is one caution for people who score high in this area. When you answer that you are not attached to how things are done, are you talking about your habits now or in your glory days? Many people who achieve creative breakthroughs early in their careers or lives think of themselves as creative, then go on to continually emulate their early success. Alfred Hitchcock said that style is self-plagiarism. Beware of this trap. Are you a victim of your own success?

When something works successfully people resist changing, but in so doing they are only holding back from further creative accomplishment.

Question C: How often do you hold back from mentioning ideas for fear of looking silly or being wrong?

Those who do not stop asking silly questions become scientists.

~Leon Lederman, nuclear physicist

Sticking your neck out with a new idea means taking a risk, but without some risk there are few advancements. We've been trained since our early years to "make sense" and to "not look foolish." Logic, rational thinking and linear thought have been drilled into us. Even the standard IQ test mostly measures convergent thinking. But the greatest thinkers of all time were often divergent thinkers. New ideas often don't make sense and might sound silly or wrong. Often, crazy ideas are a lot closer to brilliant than the same tired old "this is the way it is" ideas.

If your answer is almost always or often, this is a problem area for you, as it appears you're very apprehensive about mentioning new ideas to others. This is not uncommon, but it hurts your creative achievement. New ideas often don't make sense in the current order of things. Your self-consciousness keeps you in the realm of "what is" and prevents you from exploring "what might be better."

If your answer is occasionally or rarely, it appears you are sometimes apprehensive about mentioning new ideas to others. Keep in mind that new ideas frequently don't make much sense in the current order of things. Your self-consciousness might keep you in the realm of "what is" and prevent you from exploring "what might be better," thus hampering your creative achievement.

If your answer is never, congratulations. Based on your answer in this area, it appears you are entirely uninhibited when it comes to mentioning new ideas to others. This will serve you well in areas of creative pursuit. You are likely a very open, creative individual who knows that not all new ideas sound brilliant, and you are willing to take the chance of appearing silly or wrong. Either that, or you work in a very supportive, open-minded environment.

Question D: Do you ever have the tendency to stop at your first good idea?

Good is the enemy of great.

—Voltaire

It's quite natural for people to stop at their first good idea. But when you do this early on in the creative process you are limiting the possibility of an even better idea materializing. One way to discourage stopping at your first good idea is to work quickly during the early ideation phase and simply keep judgment out of the process. If you don't judge, you don't know what's good or bad, so you don't become attached to the "good," stop ideating, and prevent yourself from finding something even better.

If your answer is almost always or often, this is a problem area for you since you tend to stop at your first good idea much too often. You need to change your habits in this area; otherwise, you're likely just putting all of your effort into executing mediocre ideas.

If your answer is occasionally or rarely, you tend to stop at your first good idea a bit more often than you should. Remember, when you do this early on in the creative process you are preventing the possibility of an even better idea being born.

If your answer is never, it appears you are not prone to stopping at your first good idea, as are most people. Keep it up!

Question E: How many ideas do you tend to generate—good or bad—when tackling a project?

I have lots of ideas.

—Linus Pauling, two-time Nobel laureate (when asked to explain why he had such great ideas)

Yes, when you brainstorm you're usually looking for the idea. But a big part of creativity is simply a numbers game. Generate more ideas and you'll simply have more ideas from which to choose the best. You'll have more good ideas and, sure, more bad ideas. But bad ideas can often be fertilizer for the creative process. The best creative thinkers produce more fertilizer than most people. (Maybe that's how they got to be great thinkers.)

If your answer is 1 or 2 or 3—5, this is a problem area for you since you are not generating anywhere near enough quantity of ideas to better ensure a high-quality outcome. Remember that bad ideas can be fertilizer. Using quantity to get to quality is one of the easiest ways to overachieve creatively. Most great thinkers were prolific ideators. Plus, it diffuses that destructive judgment element.

If your answer is 6—12 or 13—25, you are generating as many or more ideas than the average person, but could push it even further to better ensure a higher-quality result. Keep in mind that in areas of creative pursuit, quantity usually leads to quality.

If your answer is more than 25, you are ready, willing, and able to generate many fresh ideas. You probably generate a lot of fertilizer, too.

If you haven't already checked it out, you may want to explore the Creative IQ test for organizations below.

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