Changing Things Up

My wife and I subscribe to the Indiana Repertory Theater season most years. Since both of us work downtown where the theater is located, we select a weeknight performance and go out to dinner beforeĀ each play. As we discussed dinner plans for last night’s excellent performance of Iron Kisses, it became apparent to both of us that we were really in a dining out rut.

Luckily, Susie had a list of restaurants that she had torn from a magazine. I was amazed at the number of restaurants in Indianapolis that I had not heard of. We made a list of locally owned restaurants and started working our way thru the list with Deano’s Vino before the play last night.

This whole process got me to thinking about how easily we fall into ruts. Here’s one that will challenge you more than you expect. Tomorrow, when you’re getting dressed, put on your underwear by starting with the other leg: the one that always goes in last. Then do the same thing with your pants. You probably can’t even tell which leg is the other leg right now, but you’ll notice tomorrow.

These are the ideas that lie at the heart of creativity. It isn’t having a flash of brilliance. It’s looking at the same old stuff in a different, unusual way. It’s time to start changing things up. Sit in a different seat at the next staff meeting. Drive home via a different route. Eat at a locally owned establishment that you’ve never noticed before. And put the other leg in your pants first.

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Creative Thinking

Creativity. The thinking process. Where ideas come from. These are things that fascinate me. I’m naturally drawn to articles, books, websites, speeches, and conversations that touch on the concept of creative thinking. I find it amazing how many people start off with a statement like, “I’m not very creative.” You know what? They’re right!

The biggest measurable difference between creative people and non-creative people is whether they define themselves as creative or not. That observation often takes me on the quantum physics tangent and discussions of Schrodinger’s cat. I’ll save that tangent for another time. My (admittedly short) attention is on creative thinking right now. It has been sneaking into my world from all sides lately.

Back in the late 80s, I put together a workshop on creativity and presented it to my work group. It went over well enough that I was asked to present it to a few other groups over the course of the next year. It was some of the most fulfilling work I’ve ever done. People started believing they were more creative, and then, they started being more creative. I felt like an evangelist doing revival meetings. What I learned from that is the secret to teaching: Help people realize what they already know.

Many people believe that creativity is some kind of special power, akin to magic. Really it’s nothing more than seeing ordinary things in different, extraordinary ways. Once you get past everything else about it, that’s all there is. The essence of creativity. It’s not scary when you use that definition.

More to come….