February Brainstorm

2007

I just got back from teaching a workshop in Slovenia, on the topic of pitching your ideas. It's a beautiful place with hospitable people, and a real creative, outward-looking energy. They were hungry for new ideas, and I hope you are, too, because I've rounded up a few just for you:

1: How to Go for Growth
Back in 1998, designer Bruce Mau wrote "An Incomplete Manifest for Growth," which featured 43 suggestions for how to keep growing (you can find the complete list at here). Here are three of my favourites:

  • Love your experiments (as you would an ugly child). Joy is the engine of growth. Exploit the liberty in casting your work as beautiful experiments, iterations, attempts, trials, and errors. Take the long view and allow yourself the fun of failure every day.
  • Capture accidents. The wrong answer is the right answer in search of a different question. Collect wrong answers as part of the process. Ask different questions.
  • Imitate. Don't be shy about it. Try to get as close as you can. You'll never get all the way, and the separation might be truly remarkable.

ACTION: Take a minute to consider how you could adapt each of these three to what you do. What might be an interesting outcome?

2: Feeling Low? Try Speeding Up
A study at Princeton University tried having one group of people read a statement twice as fast as they normally would (using scrolling on a computer screen) and another read it at half-speed. They found that the people who read faster felt more energetic, creative, powerful, and happy.

Their conclusion: reading faster makes you think faster, and that stimulates positive feelings. They believe this might lead to techniques for dealing with depression.

ACTION: The next time you feel low (not unusual these dark, winter days), try reading something (ideally, something positive in tone) faster than normal, followed by doing some activity that gets your physical energy up as well.

3: Three Rules for Life
Another list I came across recently is Bob Parsons' 16 Rules to Live By (Parsons is the founder of Internet company, GoDaddy.com). The following excerpt is included with the permission of Bob Parsons ( http://www.bobparsons.com) and is Copyright 2005 by Bob Parsons, with all rights reserved. Here are my favorite three:

  • When you're ready to quit, you're closer than you think. There's an old Chinese saying that I just love, and I believe it is so true. It goes like this: 'The temptation to quit will be greatest just before you are about to succeed.'
  • Be quick to decide. Remember what General Patton said: 'A good plan violently executed today is far and away better than a perfect plan tomorrow.'
  • There's always a reason to smile. Find it. After all, you're really lucky just to be alive. Life is short. More and more, I agree with my little brother. He always reminds me, 'We're not here for a long time; we're here for a good time.'

ACTION: Consider not only whether any of the three rules above might be useful for you, but if you have a few minutes, jot down what your own rules of life are (if you're willing to share your top three, send the to me at [email protected]).

4: A New Take on Imaginary Friends
Are you self-employed and having trouble getting things done? Marketing expert John Barnes has an interesting solution: create an imaginary boss. He says, "I created a boss who would chide me and tell me I had to get to work when I started goofing off."

ACTION: If it might help you to get more done, try creating an imaginary boss. It could be a demanding one, or one who uses kindness and compliments—depending on what you'd respond to more.

5: Pattern Hunting, Starring Will Smith
In a recent interview in Reader's Digest, actor Will Smith revealed one of the secrets of his success: "I'm kind of a student of the patterns of the universe. When my partner James Lassiter and I came to Hollywood, I said, 'I want to be the biggest film star in the world.' We observed that of the top ten films of all time…eight were special effects or animation with a love story. So we made 'Independence Day.' When you see the patterns, you put yourself in the position to get lucky."

ACTION: Take some time to consider what are the patterns of success in your field. Is there a way you could be taking advantage of these patterns, while maintaining your individuality?

6: NEW FEATURE: The 60 Second Book Review
The book: Keep Your Brain Alive
The authors: Lawrence C. Katz, Ph.D. & Manning Rubin
Publisher: Workman Publishing Co., New York, 148 pages

The Premise:
Routine deadens the brain, new activities develop it. You can do 'neurobic exercises' to help prevent memory loss and increase mental fitness. These are not the usual puzzles but suggestions for activities that allow you to have new experiences and enlist the aid of all your senses during your daily life.

Three Key Ideas from the Book:
Here are three suggested activities to shake up your routine:

  • Shop at an ethnic market. Take in all the smells, sights, and textures. Ask the storekeeper how to prepare some of the foods with which you're not familiar.
  • At mealtimes switch seats with whomever you eat with. Notice how it changes your perceptions.
  • Take a random trip. Make a list beforehand like 3R, 4L, 6S, meaning that once you're underway, at the third intersection you'll turn Right, then you'll go 4 blocks and turn Left, then you'll go six blocks and Stop and go into the nearest shop or café (obviously you can adjust distance depending on whether you're walking or driving).

The Verdict: A fun little book with lots of activities that will wake up your senses and shake up your routine. You can use it by yourself or with friends or family.

7: And a quote to think about
"Imagination is more important than knowledge. For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create." - Albert Einstein

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About The Author

Jurgen Wolff
Jurgen Wolff

Jurgen Wolff is a writer, teacher, and hypnotherapist. His goal is to help individuals liberate their own creativity through specific techniques that can be used at work as well as at home. His recent books include "Focus: the power of targeted thinking," a W. H. Smith best-seller, and "Your Writing Coach".