Monday, March 30, 2009

The Creative Power of the Subconscious Mind

End of semester examinations get easier as a result of pre-reading the exam questions and jotting down a simple brainstormed bullet-point structure to our answers. There’s a very good reason why this technique is designed to give us an edge. More on that later...

Delay and the Subconscious Mind

I had a friend go to a John Cleese creative thinking workshop recently and he told me of an exercise they did relating to the power of the subconscious mind to work on a problem in the background, seemingly without any thought (yes, I did say the subconscious mind), and then to return to the problem later to discover the mind was more prepared to answer the problem.

Cleese demonstrated to the group at the workshop that a problem defined early and left to distil in our subconscious was at times solved by itself. We set the egg-timer and slowly the solution boils like an egg within this part of our mind.

Ponder, Take Your Time... Even Forget, But Don’t Try Too Hard...

The message in this is we can all do with time to ponder things, and time to consider them in-deliberately, even casually.

We need to make time, or take time, for creativity. Thinking creatively is not really about the transactional, day to day; it’s hardly like a tap where we can turn on creative thought at will. We need something to spark us and our imaginations.

Good, non-legalistic leaders allow their people to explore beyond the bounds of time and their people’s roles. This is so they might perhaps produce something hardly expected, even inspiring.

The Gift and the Servant

Breakthrough thinking needs to be triggered somehow. It can’t be manufactured or required; the best innovators are spontaneous people. The following attests to this:

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift” –Albert Einstein (1879-1955). Life seems to favour the transactional thinker. People want results on cue.

The German-born physicist knew how precious creative thought was. Einstein also said, “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

This message of the delay required for the subconscious mind is one reason to not get too bothered about the tomorrows or the problems of tomorrow. Chances are we’ll solve them, or they’ll be solved for us. Today’s problems we’ll laugh about in two months, or even two days in some cases.

The Sixty Second Test

One thing to do in determining the very next problem to solve is this. Be quiet for sixty seconds and watch where your mind goes. Record the fact. Capture it and lock it in. Now, just sit on it for a few hours or a day or two, without any deliberate thought. Forget about it. See what happens.

Wise individuals and organisations understand that delaying some decisions to allow think-time can generally only be beneficial. They understand that mood influences thinking; that at times when we’re pressed and irritable we’re least effective, creatively speaking.

Now, back to those exam questions... the reason why we have ‘reading time’ before the exams start is so we can kick-start our subconscious minds, so we can begin solving the problems whilst we work on others... that’s pretty neat isn’t it?

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

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