WHEN WE ENCOUNTER A PROBLEM that requires thinking out of the box to come up with solutions, this can be extremely difficult for some people, especially under pressure. Some people really struggle to come up with different solutions, and this is normally because they’re spending too much time thinking consciously about solutions, as opposed to unconsciously.
Imagine a brainstorming meeting with 2 people. They have to work together to come up with as many ideas as possible. One of these people is not very creative, but extremely loud. He loves to talk and dominate meetings. The other person is very creative, but very quiet. Whilst the loud person is talking, the creative quiet person is keeping silent, and whilst this is happening the loud person is coming up with very few ideas, and the quiet person is sitting there just listening.
This is exactly the same with your conscious and unconscious mind. Whilst your conscious mind (the loud uncreative one) is focussing on ideas, your unconscious mind (the quiet creative one) is not. Have you ever had a difficult problem that you couldn’t solve, and then stopped thinking about it for a few days, then come back to it and try again and discover suddenly you have lots of great ideas? That’s because your unconscious mind was allowed to focus on it.
So if we want to improve our creativity straight away we need to take 4 steps:
1. First, focus consciously on understanding what the problem is to help our unconscious minds to digest the problem
2. Tell our conscious minds to shut up and stop thinking about the problem
3. Focus our conscious minds on something creative
5. Try solving the problem again
So how do we tell our conscious minds to shut up? It’s very simple, we get them focussing on something else, but not just anything. Getting our conscious minds to focus on creative things, such as art, music, movies or poetry can actually stimulate our creative minds. For example, you can go read a book about your favourite artist, watch your favourite movie or listen to your favourite music. Even better, go and talk to your friends about your favourite artists.
At the same time, we need to relax. Go for a massage, take a nap, play with your children or your pets, do yoga or anything you can think of to relax.
I get my trainees to try the above techniques when I am testing their creativity. First we do a standard creativity test and see what their score is. Then I tell them the task for the next creativity test (which is the same concept as the previous one), I check they all understand so that their unconscious minds have digested the problem they need to focus on. Then I tell them to get into pairs, one person talks about their favourite artist to their partner whilst at the same time their partner gives them a massage to relax. Then they switch roles. After this, they come back and focus on the next creativity test. Most people’s creativity improves by about 80% after this simple exercise!