During the past 16 years, in an attempt to understand the roots of the creative process, IDEA CHAMPIONS has asked more than 10,000 people the exact same question...
Where do you get your best ideas?ideas?
What they told us came as something of a surprise, especially when you consider how many hours people spend working each day.
97%3% Showering Just before sleep Doing nothing Just upon waking Commuting Meditating Brainstorming Walking Vacations Drinking wine Other... On the job Where do you get your best ideas?
Why is this so?so?
We have more than one brain* *One seems to be “doing our job.” The other seems to be conjuring up cool ideas away from the office.
A Tale of One Mind: (and two brains) A Tale of One Mind: (and two brains) Introducing...
Plato was the first to posit in the Western World that there are two distinct aspects to the human mind.
One mind he called the “Logistikon,” the rational aspect of the human being.
The other mind he called the “Nous.” This was the intuitive aspect of a human being.
In the Western World, most people didn’t have a clue what Plato was talking about and basically ignored his insight for a few thousand years or so.
While in the East, people understood these right and left brain principles in their own way.
Then came the Age of Reason followed by the Scientific Age and people became curious about what made everything tick…tick….tick….tick… (including the brain.)
19 th century scientists began to speculate that, since the physical brain seemed to be composed of two halves or “hemispheres,” that they might control different parts of the human organism.
Over time, a series of correspondences began to be built up concerning the two brains......pretty much falling along the lines that Plato delineated about 2,000 years earlier.
The Left Brain was associated with intellect, and was believed to think convergently, abstractly, analytically, calculatedly, linearly, sequentially, and objectively – concerned with details or the parts of things. It produced a quality of thought that was direct, upright, sensible, speech and word-oriented, hard- edged, unfanciful, forceful and dominant.
Engineers are well known for this way of thinking...
The Right Brain was associated with intuition, and believed to think divergently, imaginatively, metaphorically, non- linearly, holistically, subjectively and was concerned with the WHOLE of things. It produced a quality of thought that was flexible, playful, complex, visual, diagonal, fanciful, mystical and submissive.
Artists, musicians, inventors, & entrepreneurs are well-known for this kind of thinking (along with some of the mavericks you work with, of which YOU may be one…)
The left hemisphere focuses on the details, gets the facts straight, understands the situation, and comes up with the right question. It tells the right hemisphere exactly what the problem is.
The right hemisphere then, like an inspired magician, comes up with the idea.
In our experience, most people are biased towards the left brain…a phenomena that led Albert Einstein to issue the following quotable caution to anyone overly dedicated to the powers of the rational, logical, sequential part of ourselves. “Not everything that counts can be counted; and not everything that can be counted counts.”
Meaning? There is something in us beyond the realm of logic that is somehow able to intuit, conjure, and make sense out of odd patterns – and by so doing – arrive at solutions invisible to the defining left brain. This “something” comes up with insights that cannot be immediately measured, but can provide immeasurable results if taken seriously.
The thing is: when people are at work, they’re residing in their “left brains” most of the time. They’re focusing on details… trying to understand what the problems are… trying to gather information & facts. Logic, practicality and order rule the day.
This really isn’t so bad, because once the left brain has done its homework – all the “heavy lifting” so to speak – then the right brain can emerge and uncover the breakthrough idea, the out-of-the box possibility.
But alas, the right brain is “shy.” (Remember, it’s “submissive” quality in relation to the dominant left brain?) It won’t just take over and do its thing. It has to be invited in.
Well then: how do you invite the right brain in so it can work its magic? “Intuition will tell the thinking mind where to look next.” (Jonas Salk)
By engaging in activities that the right brain controls!
Take a hike! That’s right, go for a walk, a stroll, a “constitutional.” Even a jog or a run. When your body moves, your right brain gets engaged. Did you know that Mozart used to exercise before he composed?
Listen to music – or better yet, play some... especially music without lyrics or sung in a language you don’t understand. Yokimura Nakamatsa, a Japanese inventor with more than 2,000 patents listens to Beethoven’s 9th Symphony before he enters his “execution phase” of a project
Draw, sculpt or paint something. Make visual representations of your challenge or idea. (A simple prototype might do…)
Use humor! “Aha” and “haha” are very closely connected. Laughter frees you up from the tyranny of logic and linearity. Which is what led Isaac Asimov to remark…
“The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ (I found it!), but ‘That’s funny.’”
Change the look of your office. Move the furniture around. Put up inspiring new posters. Re-arrange a bookshelf. Anything to move away from the status quo setting... OK. Other things you can do to ignite the right brain
Visualize the solution you are trying so hard to rationally figure out. (See it in your mind’s eye…) “I rarely think in words at all.” – Albert Einstein
Do nothing. Reflect. Meditate. Incubate. Walk away from the problem. 0
Or if nothing else seems to be working to get you out of the dominance of your left brain, take a nap. Thomas Edison used to do it all the time whenever he needed a breakthrough idea. Salvadore Dali, too.
Why bother making the effort to get into your right brain? 1. So you don’t have to wait until you’re out of the office to get a great idea. 2. So you’re not limited by the logic and linearity of the left brain.
The truth is: You need BOTH your “left brain” and your “right brain.” The trick is: knowing how to move fluidly from one to the other with ease.
Identify a business challenge of yours that might benefit from more of your right brain. ( Remember, we’re talking about the part of you that thinks divergently, imaginatively, metaphorically, non-linearly, holistically, subjectively and is concerned with the WHOLE of things.) Well, what is it?
That’s it! Show’s over. See you next time.
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