Einstein: the scientist and the artist

Today I’m researching for a talk next week, on ‘Creativity in Business’. I could do something I’ve already done- but I prefer to put together something new. So I’m researching the creative icon that is Albert Einstein. I’m writing this blog mid-research- as I have had a jump out of your chair  “Yes!” moment. Do you have those?

einstein-violin

Albert Einstein is famously known for the quote “Imagination is more important than knowledge” but there is so much more to his thinking on creativity. As well as a scientist Einstein was an accomplished musician he played the piano and violin. This recording of Einstein playing Mozart has only recently been discovered.

Music played a significant role in his life. If he was stuck, he might play his piano and when finished, he’d often say “Now I’ve got!”. The playing of the piano not only allowed him to take his mind off ‘the problem’ but also stimulated his creativity in a wider sense. There is now evidence to suggest playing  music can increase your ‘intelligence’ and brain elasticity- which is a big part of creative thinking.

What was most interesting in all of this was also finding out that Einstein didn’t think in words- but in ‘images, feelings and musical architectures’.

“”I very rarely think in words at all. A thought comes, and I may try to express it in wordsafterwards” 

Just for a moment consider how our working practices, problem solving and decision-making are all based around words- either written or spoken.

Einstein is also big on intuition and inner knowing.

“All great achievements of science must start from intuitive knowledge. I believe in intuition and inspiration…At times I feel I am right while not knowing the reason”

Whilst I’m sure no business would object to an image of Albert on their wall- would they also welcome the use of ‘intuition and inner knowing’ as part of their regular business practice? Einstein is not only an icon for creativity but also for intuition in ‘the board room’.

The final nugget from my reading today Id like to share with you is this: ‘personal creativity enables professional innovation’. Wow!

So why did this research cause a Yes! moment?

I’m working on my own big idea at the moment, which is partly based on past experience, but largely based on intuition and inner knowing.  Firstly Einstein has just given me permission for this to be more than okay- thank you.

Secondly, and more significantly the subject of my big idea is relates to thinking through images. I’ve always had a strong feeling that people can have better ideas, express themselves more, be more creative and innovative if they just ditched words for a while and learned to access their own visual langauge.

There’s so much richness in the ‘right brain’ and I’m going to create a space for people to explore it, at a deeper level, in a buisness context. Can you imagine the potential? Today was one of those dots on my journey as I bring this idea into the world.

 

Read more about Einstein’s thinking here

 

 

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Where’s the play-doh Prith?

Do you ever get off track?

Do you sometimes do what you think you should do rather than following your instincts?

Earlier this year I was commissioned to run a bespoke development programme. This was a big project and I was pretty excited. It would combine sessions on leadership, management, marketing, and creative thinking. The content was a great mix of my skills and knowledge base–what could go wrong?

After lots of preparation, I delivered the first session. It was packed full of content- lots of theory and exercises. I thought I had delivered a sound, well thought out session. The evaluation sheets were all positive but there was something in the air- something less tangible- perhaps voiced most succinctly in the comment “Where’s the play-doh Prith?”

In case you don’t know me, play-doh has become a bit of a trademark tool for me. I use it to help people think differently, to rekindle some of that gorgeously innocent childhood sense of creativity and imagination.

The comment :”Where’s the play-doh Prith?” was really asking– Where were you in all of that content?  Where was the creativity? As I realised this, indeed as I write it now, my heart sank. I was trying so hard to deliver a ‘good’ management workshop I had succumbed to convention and lost my essence. Regardless of what I was teaching- it should have been inspiring, fun and creative- because that’s what I/my work is about.

Everything happens for a reason. The huge lesson I learned that day? Be you!

People don’t buy what you’re selling- they buy you and the way you do things. You might also want to add ‘why’ you do what you do- Simon Sinek.

It’s so important to recognise and value ‘your essence’- your USP if you like.

My question for you: Do you know why people do business with you? Why do they pick you over everyone else?

If not, take some time out and get clear on it. Don’t be afraid to ask people.  Once you’re clear- draw a picture of it, write it on a post-it note, do whatever you have to do – then put it somewhere prominent. Use it as your compass, your guide and add a huge splash in to everything you do.

How does the story continue you might be wondering?

I wanted to turn this around so the next session was going to have major creative input from me! I was going to do it my way. As well as having great content I wanted people to leave the session  feeling good, energized, excited and motivated – these were my new training objectives. It also, somehow, had to include play-doh!

Thinking through clay                Play-doh people

As you can see not only was play-doh woven into the session- we also had music and dancing!  (Yes we’re still talking management). We started and ended the session with Pharrell William’s ‘Happy’.  Did anyone get up and dance with me at 9.30 in the morning? Of course they did- the senior managers no less!

I felt good- they felt good- my world was now much better- happy in fact! The waters were flowing. I made a silent promise to myself- not to fall into the trap of convention again.

In words of Oscar Wilde:

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

 

P.S. Sometimes it’s hard to share moments of non-brilliance- but then that’s all part of the journey….and the learning can take us to new places.