5 Ways to Boost Your Creativity

Five Ways to Boost Your Creativity

John Cleese’s brilliant lecture on how to boost your creativity will inspire you to take the gloves off and pursue a better way of life. Watch this lecture and don’t be inspired, I dare you.

Interesting facts and anecdotes from the lecture:

  • Creativity is not a talent, but a form of operating.
  • Creativity is absolutely unrelated to IQ.
  • Playfulness is the essence of creativity.
  • Creativity cannot happen while we’re in a closed mode, which is stressed, anxious, impatient, and purposeful.
  • Creativity happens while we’re in an open mode, which is relaxed, expansive, and less purposeful. In an open more we’re more contemplative, more open to humor, and consequently more playful, we’re curious for curiosity’s sake and we embrace the exploration.
  • Alfred Hitchcock would often break into a tangent from production debates with a completely unrelated story, insisting that the best answer could not come while trying so hard to find it.
  • Closed mode is necessary for implementing creative ideas. For example, when about to leap over a ravine, the moment just before take off is a bad time to openly consider alternative strategies. Once we’ve taken a decision, we should narrow our focus until we’re done implementing it.
  • We too often get stuck in the closed mode, with tunnel vision, when we really need to step back and contemplate the wider view.
  • It’s easier to do trivial things that are urgent, than important things that are not urgent.
  • It is easier to do little things that we know we can do, than to start on big things that we’re not so sure about.
  • The most creative people play with the problem for longer before taking a solution because they’ve learned to endure the discomfort of not having a solution.
  • Group creativity sessions are a great way to discover better ideas than you ever could have alone. But there is a danger. Make sure you’re with people you like and trust. Never say anything to squash them either. Never say “no,” “wrong,” or “I don’t like that.” Always be positive and build on what is being offered.

John Cleese distills the research to suggest 5 ways to boost one’s creativity.

  1. Space – Seal yourself off, isolate yourself from pressures, expectations, anxieties, and distractions.
  2. Time – Only by having a specifically defined moment for creativity can we truly transition into the open mode. Play begins, and then at a certain moment it is over, otherwise it is not play. Play is play because it is separate from everyday life.
  3. Time – Defer taking a solution until the last possible moment to allow more time with the problem. Endure the discomfort of not having a solution, put in the extra time, and struggle with the problem for a while longer to make the solution better.
  4. Confidence – Fear of failure will stop you in your creative tracks. The very essence of playfulness is an openness to anything that might happen. There can be no such thing as a wrong answer during creative play. Any ridiculous drivel could lead to the next big breakthrough.
  5. Humor – Perhaps the fastest track to the open mode. Even serious things should invite humor because good humor sets us free and elevates us.
“And that really is all that I can tell you that won’t help you to be more creative. Everything.”


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