Fancy a brain work out?

Developing your Mental Flexibility

Mental flexibility- the pliability of your mind- openness- the associations you can make where at first there seem to be none- a skill essential for innovation.

Most of us however are quite rigid in our thinking. We see a chair and we say it’s a chair and use it to sit on. Where’s the harm in that you might say? There is none. That’s how the brain works. It problem solves and takes that solution to the problem next time we come across it. It remembers, it learns, so that we don’t have to continually solve the problem of working out what a chair is every time we see it.

There is however a slight problem- because if we continue to bring previous solutions to problems we face- which are now coming to us in a different point in time- we never think up anything new. We come up with the ‘same old- same old’ as they say.

In some ways the brain functions, because of necessity and survival, in a very uncreative way. As a result we have to make an effort to develop that mental flexibility where we don’t just adopt the first solution that comes to us. We need to push ourselves to unlearn, to make new connections where there are apparently none.

Edward de Bono has developed a series of games based around the principle of word association- which helps us address this problem- you could think of it as a ‘brain work out’.

So it’s Friday lets play for a while.

brain workout

Take a sheet of scrap paper and list the following 8 words in two columns: tortoise, TV, stone, toilet, tiger, lipstick, tent, chimney. Now see how many connections you can make between the left and right columns. Give yourself 2 minutes. Maybe do this with your colleague sitting next to you and make a bit of a competition out of it!

How did you find it- difficult? Just like physical exercise- it gets easier the more you do it.

In my workshops I use this exercise as a precursor to brainstorming, using a random word, to help generate new ideas.

Just to continue on the game playing theme you could also select a few random words and think up a board game or perhaps a new sport. Just think of all the crazy games you’d play on a school sports day- not the serious stuff you see at the Olympics. So here are your words for new sport: Shoe, Sauce, Ladder and Skeleton.

Give yourself 5 minutes for this one and you can recruit a friend to help as its lots more fun that way. (Might also be a good party game at Christmas!)

So how did you get on? I’d love to hear what you’ve come up with.


A Rush of Creativity

A rush of creativity since the launch

Since the book’s been launched part of me has been eagerly awaiting responses from people but another part of me has allowed myself to ride on the wave/ vibe of my book launch and see where it takes me. I have experienced a huge rush of creativity and it feels amazing!

I’ve been working on ‘Break out Break free’  which is almost formed, so I shall be emailing out invitations for the pilot workshop soon(some scribbles on this below). More recently another idea has floated in…’Dare to Dream’.

Big pens for big ideas!

Big pens for big ideas!

The Process of Creativity

The process by which ideas are coming in is also interesting. In addition to my conscious scribbling in ‘work hours’ there is some night-time stuff happening too!

It might be the hot weather, but over the past 2 weeks I have developed a little pocket of work time, which is probably around 4-6am, where I have the most amazing thoughts, visualisations and conversations with myself. Well I did say in the book “Make the most of sleepy states” so here I am – my body and mind doing just that. Playing around with fuzzy ideas and then letting them take shape in this deeply relaxed state.

I have worked on the detail of a workshop I’m doing in Brighton in October- in particular visualising the all important opening. I’ve worked on a 3 hour Dare to Dream workshop which I have also presented to a whole audience from the stage! That was a tiring night!

Making use of my creativity ‘Sparklers’

Obviously not all my ideas are good ones, so I usually discuss them with trusted ‘Sparklers’. Dare to Dream has had 2 positive responses from people from the corporate and business world:  “We never give ourselves permission to dream and it’s difficult to make time in a life which is just full of stuff to do. Having a dedicated space would be great- do it!”.

So I’m going to trial this soon- Saturday morning- August 24th – in fact. Email me if you want me to post you details. Just as an inventor creates prototypes I create short pilot sessions, at a low ticket price, to test my ideas too.

On a conscious level I’m questioning myself- should I really be trying to implement all this new stuff- is it shiny penny syndrome? As well as my core work of running monthly Innovation workshops and my new Creative Mastermind Group,  this is a lot more new stuff to be developing and ‘getting out there.’

But some of this stuff I feel in my belly – so it has to be done! They are so exciting they need to be given a space to breathe and take shape. They may or may not work but if I run them as pilot sessions, at a super-low ticket price, then I can have fun with them and explore their potential.

As for my current process of creativity, I’ll run with it for now, always keeping a book by my bed. I do think however it is passing, as the nights draw in and we ‘go back to school’ in September my body clock may revert to more traditional working hours. (But you never know!)

P.S Comments on the book welcome.

You can buy the book ‘Who says you’re not creative?’ on Amazon