Dance, Dance, Dance the Night Away! « Mindcamp

Creativity has a great many definitions. Some are academic, some focus on the definition of a creative product and some wax philosophical about making connections between seemingly disconnected elements. One definition that resonates with me personally is that creativity is the ability to modify self-imposed restraints (credit to Ackoff and Vergara for that one). Let’s spend a quick penny and take a closer look at this definition.

If creativity is an ability, then we all have it to varying degrees. Since abilities can be developed and improved, then it stands to reason that we can develop and improve our own creativity whether we know it yet or not!

Self-imposed restraints…this is where things get interesting…a restraint is an influence that inhibits…and if this restraint is self-imposed, then you and you alone have the ability to remove it!

It would be unfair to think that we will excel at things we’ve never even tried before and yet we often impose restraints that prevent us from exploring new things, specifically because we don’t want to be bad at them. This can be based on peer pressure, fear, shyness, upbringing, cultural norms…and the list goes on.

Perhaps one of those situations is…

Read More: Dance, Dance, Dance the Night Away! « Mindcamp.

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Insights from Neuroscience

I recently read an article on the Neuroscience of Leadership by Dr. D. Rock and Dr. J. Schwartz  which gave me a better understanding of what is going on in the brain when people are either going through a process of change or learning something new. That article, combined with some of my own beliefs and knowledge of emotional intelligence led me to the following insights:

1.  Change is stressful and painful. When something is new or different from what a person is used to, long-standing habits need to be broken. This requires a significant amount of effort on the part of the pre-frontal cortex. This sustained effort actually causes physiological discomfort. The result: People tend to avoid change.

2.  We know that efforts to make change stick by creating incentives and threats rarely works in the long term. Neither does persuasion. People need to be intrinsically motivated and emotionally on board. This is why change is most likely to take root when it originates from the bottom up. People don’t learn by being told what to think. What is most interesting to me is that when people come to their own conclusions the brain fires adrenaline-like energy that can then lead to long-lasting change of perspective, a new learning, a new belief.

3.  Temporary or unfocused exposure to new information does not create new brain circuits. For identity, behaviours and beliefs to change, there needs to be sustained mental attention paid to a particular mental experience over a period of time. The brain changes based on what a person focuses on and for how long.

4.  Expectation shapes reality. If you are familiar with the placebo effect you already know this. What you unconsciously believe is extremely powerful. The stories you were raised with, the beliefs about yourself and the people around you shape you expectations. And your expectations create your road map.

So what does this mean for change makers?

Supporting people to come to their own conclusions and insights is not only respectful of their autonomy and intelligence but actually accelerates the creation of new neural pathways.

Focus members of the organization on thinking in terms of questions that frame the issue and lead them to come up with their own solutions. Don’t focus on the problem itself or they will only see obstacles to change. Focus on the central question, which if answered creatively, will lead to a solution.

Once people are having their own insights on the issue, keep their mental energy focused on those insights.