A Little on the Fence

Every September, ThinkX sponsors Mindcamp, a not-for-profit creativity retreat. We do it to offer other not-for-profits and individuals a plunge into the world of creativity. Most people come away from it with a renewed sense of themselves and their potential.

A few days ago, we received an email from a woman who was considering coming to Mindcamp 2011, but had some reservations. She wrote, “I am not entirely sure this is something for me, and so am a little on the fence. I have never participated in anything like this and don’t consider myself to be the most creative person.”

She’s not alone. Many people tell me they don’t think of themselves as creative.

In our society, we’re taught that creativity is about art or music or poetry. And of course it is. But it’s much more than that.

Creativity is about thinking beyond the obvious to solve problems. Sometimes these are art problems, sometimes music problems, sometimes poetry problems. But more often they are business problems, family problems, or practical problems.

The truth is that all of us have creative potential. Anyone who’s ever been flooded with ideas while in the shower knows that. There are a wealth of well-documented techniques for applying “shower thinking” to more practical settings. But most of us either don’t know them or don’t use them, relying instead on the old patterns of thought that caused our problems in the first place.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could learn to adapt your natural shower thinking ability to the practical world – to tame, develop, and refine those crazy shower ideas to address your real-world problems?

That’s what the work my colleagues and I do is all about – introducing people to proven ways to expand their capacity to think more creatively and more productively. That’s what ThinkX does for its commercial clients, and that’s what Mindcamp has been doing, as a not-for-profit, for nine years now.

All human beings have innate creative capacity. It’s just that not all of us have discovered that yet. Once you do, watch out. Your world (and the world of those around you) will never be the same.

By the way, the woman who wrote the email above did sign up for Mindcamp. And although we’re almost full, you’re welcome to apply as well. Check it out at

“Creativity is not an escape from disciplined thinking. It is an escape with disciplined thinking.” – JERRY HIRSCHBERG

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See It in Reverse

Ever get stuck on a problem? No matter how many times you ask yourself how to fix it, you come up short or just blank?

Try a reversal. Ask what you might do to make the problem worse or bigger or even more disturbing. Reversals are a great way to shake up conventional approaches. They can free you from the patterns that hold you back.

Last year, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin created, a for-profit philanthropic organization. They reasoned they could do more good by not having to operate within the confines of bureaucratic legal strictures. Sound counter-intutive? It is. But this year is giving away more than $1 billion — and paying taxes on top of it! So next time you get stuck, try turning your problem upside down. Ask yourself a question that reverses all your assumptions.

Here’s a link to a video that reverses one of our most basic assumptions. It’s about 5 minutes long. If you decide to click it, give it about 2 minutes before making up your mind. You may be surprised at what you get out of it. Reversals are very powerful indeed!

“The way up and the way down are one and the same.” — Heraclitus

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