Motivational Mondays: Do a Doodle

Phone in one hand, a pen in the other and you scribble random marks while you chat, the patterns and shading becoming more elaborate as you talk. A little flourish here, a repetition of strokes there; none of it looks like anything in particular and you think nothing of it when you finish your call. But your absent-minded daubs have actually helped you increase your focus, grasp more clearly what is being said to you and improved your memory. I bet you think you can’t draw, but who cares, if the mere act of scribbling has such a powerful effect on your brain.

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

According to a 2011 study in The Lancet, a medical journal, some researchers suspect doodling may help the brain remain active by engaging its “default networks”—regions that maintain a baseline of activity in the cerebral cortex when outside stimuli are absent, the Lancet study says. People who were encouraged to doodle while listening to a list of people’s names being read were able to remember 29% more of the information on a surprise quiz later, according to a 2009 study in Applied Cognitive Psychology. So if you are giving a lecture or presentation and want people to pay attention to and remember what you say, also give your audience crayons, paper and the permission to scribble.

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

A blank page and a pen is ripe territory for doodling and if you do it while your brain is apparently attending to something else your ability to broaden your creative thoughts and ideas, make sense of and retain what you are listening to, is hugely increased. It can also help you learn; allowing your hand to make spontaneous marks as your ears listen. It is a useful tool both at work and at school, although traditionally, getting caught at it would have got you into trouble. Now it is recognized as something to be encouraged; a way of aiding learning, processing, problem-solving, creative thinking and remembering.

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

The doodle can stimulate ideas for improvement, according to a 2014 study by Gabriela Goldschmidt, a professor emeritus of architecture at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa and a researcher on learning techniques of design. A doodle can spark a “dialog between the mind and the hand holding a pencil and the eyes that perceive the marks on paper,” the study says.

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

I went to Art School in the 1980’s when drawing had fallen out of favour in other London colleges; everyone was painting huge abstract images but at Byam School of Art we still had old fashioned oak paneled life drawing studios where we were encouraged to draw as a daily practice. That was decades ago and I had long since stopped drawing, but I often scribbled or doodled without any thought or dexterity, just as an accompaniment to listening or day-dreaming. Then one day I happened upon a concept called Zentangle, which is a form of combined doodling and meditation, devised by Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts in 2004 as an elegant system of structured patterns for zoning out.

One day, Maria told Rick what she experienced as she drew background patterns on a manuscript she was creating. She described her feelings of timelessness, freedom and well-being and complete focus on what she was doing with no thought or worry about anything else. “You’re describing meditation,” Rick said.”

Using deliberate pen strokes and a vocabulary of abstract patterns, artists and non-artists alike are equally able to focus on their marks with no pre-determined end result, while their attention shifts “to a state that allows fresh thoughts, new perspectives, and creative insights to flow unhindered by anxiety or effort.”

I practice Zentangle for its own sake, but it has also led me back to my love of drawing. Doodling seems to open up your natural urges and skills, by tapping into your unconscious. Maybe the act of doodling will awaken the brain surgeon within you or release the long distance trucker desperate to get out on the open road. When you are trying to resolve a problem, take time out, pick up a pen and let it drift around the page. Try repeated circles, or lines, or geometrical shapes, dots, cross-hatching, sweeping curves or angular marks. Place no judgment on what you do, there is no right or wrong. You may come up with a gorilla-headed flamingo surfing a rainstorm of samurai swords across a sea of platypus’ feet on paper, but in your mind you may have just solved the conundrum to why, say, you are still in a job you should have left months ago.

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

The shapes, along with your hand movements, stimulate parts of the brain that allow you to make connections between things that you otherwise would likely have never come up with. It helps you tap into your memory, your emotions, your desires, your intellect. Sunni Brown, named one of the “100 Most Creative People in Business” and one of the “10 Most Creative People on Twitter” by Fast Company, is the leader of “The Doodle Revolution” the purpose of which is to “disrupt social norms about visual language and visual thinking, and educate people around the world about doodling’s power and potential.” Brown is an ardent champion of the practice of doodling, saying in her TED Talk, “the doodle has never been the nemesis of intellectual thought. In reality, it is one of its greatest allies.” Sunni Brown’s design consultancy, Sunni Brown Ink, has worked with high-profile clients like Linkedin, Zappos, and Dell, amongst others to improve organization and planning by using doodles.

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

In decision-making, problem-solving and creative thinking we need to engage with at least two of the four learning processes: auditory, visual, reading/writing and kinetic. So in a lecture or in class or on the phone, where information density is high, doodling has the benefit of exploiting all four of the processes. Which is why it is so effective. As a visual person I have never liked using the phone. I feel like I am missing too much information, losing the subtleties and nuances of communication. When I started coaching I thought I would never be able to do it via phone. But I discovered by accident that if I sit with a pen and paper and I draw in response to listening that in fact, it becomes an incredibly powerful interaction. I can hear even more deeply the essence of what my client is saying. I also get them to draw as we talk; simple shapes, mind-maps, grids, nothing tricky, but the act of doodling allows them to explore their thoughts, by placing words into the shapes and finding revealing patterns and constellations in the marks before them, which they are then able to describe to me. So simple but we reach profound solutions very quickly.

As humans we have the urge to make marks. We started daubing on cave walls and some of us still like to spray paint our inner primordial urges onto the sides of buildings. The rest of us can just pick up the nearest pen and the back of an envelope and scribble. Who knows you may even end up shrieking Eureka. You just have to start somewhere.

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Need help releasing your inner Ralph Steadman? Get doodling with a Creative Thinking Coach and start solving your problems. Email me Lou@createlab.co.uk

Follow my daily inspirational Picture Posts on Twitter @createlab and Instagram create_lab

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Illustration by Lou Hamilton

Motivational Mondays: Using Intuition

Intuition is our body radar, picking up signals to give us inside knowledge on which to base decisions. It is an instinctive response not an intellectual or logical one. It’s a feeling. When we listen to and follow our gut instinct, things usually turn out well. It is our animal instinct. We often leave it dormant.

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

Intuition is a sense; it relays information, be that of danger or fortune. It gives an inkling of what might be ahead, behind or out of sight. It is what we do with the information that determines the path we carve for ourselves. Our creative nature responds to intuition, so the more open we are to the intuitive sense the more creative we can be. But we can only tap into it if we choose to stop and listen, for it is a subtle and delicate sense that can be easily drowned out by the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

It takes patience, awareness and practice. Take time to pause, to notice moments of insight and flashes of inspiration, to watch patterns of events unfolding and evolving around you. Similar occurrences start to appear in different areas of your life and you can begin to make connections. You notice avocados are pushed to the front of the shelves in the supermarket, then someone recommends avocado oil, then you read that avocados are a superfood. Your week starts to pop with avocados and before you know it you are eating them every day and putting avocado oil on your salad and making face masks from the flesh. This is an example of how something slowly creeps onto our radar until it is multiplying across all our senses and we decide to act upon the flashing message in our brain: “avocados are good for you, eat more of them.”

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

The same thing happens when we start to become more positive in our lives. We become more sensitive to negative people, the ones that drain our energy. Gradually we are so attuned that when we hear negative talk it feels like someone running their nails down a black board. Our intuition by now is so strong in that area that the moment we meet someone we instantly ‘know’ if they are good for us or not. Our intuitive sense is screaming at us to back off from the negative people, to shake off their cloak of bleakness. If we ignore this voice we can start to become depleted or even ill from the strain of propping ourselves up against the dripping effect of their toxic waste.

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

When an opportunity arises, our intuition responds first; a flutter of excitement or a sense of fear or dread. We then check in with all our other senses and background information. Our logic piles in with the pros and cons. We make connections, run the reel through our minds of what the outcome will look like in a variety of scenarios. Then the best thing we can do is walk away, sleep on it, distract ourselves with other projects. Our intuitive system takes over while our conscious analytical brain is distracted. It percolates the experience until it makes sense of it. Processed, it will seep its way to the surface of our consciousness and we are able to make our decision. Sleep helps the process, with dreams incubating and unraveling the issue, away from the meddling of our conscious mindset, until the intuitive feelings become thoughts that can be acted on. If we listen to the advice of the wrong people it can set us off at a tangent to our intuition, cast us adrift from what we instinctively know to be right.

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

We feel intuition through a physical change in our bodies, sweaty palms, a tightening in our chest, a flutter in our stomach. Scientists at the University of Iowa did a study to test for perspiration on card players’ hands. The players didn’t know that the deck was stacked but after turning over about ten cards they started generating stress responses with sweatier palms. But it wasn’t until they had turned over 50 cards that they began to suspects the cards were rigged and not until they had got to 80 cards that they were able to work out how the decks were stacked. Their bodies sensed something was up long before their conscious minds were able to make the connection. And another study in 2005 found that the brain regions associated to bodily signals and sensory processing in people who meditated regularly, had developed more grey matter. Meditators are better placed to listen to their intuition.

“We all process things that we’re not consciously aware of—it’s a feeling of knowing that uses an older brain structure,” says neuroscientist Beatrice de Gelder, PhD, who researches blindsight, a phenomena of blindness that occurs when brain is damaged but the patient is still able to navigate a course or detect a person’s facial expression even though the can’t see using their conscious vision. Because we’re so dependent on our sense of sight, she says, we’re not used to trusting our intuitive vision track. When we feel a sense of foreboding about something we must pay attention to that sensation.

In 1957 W. I. B. Beveridge explored the role of the intuition and imagination in science in his book The Art of Scientific Investigation. He found that the more people were able to listen to their intuition, the more open was their conduit to creative thinking. Anne Lamott‘s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, agrees “You get your intuition back when you make space for it, when you stop the chattering of the rational mind. The rational mind doesn’t nourish you. You assume that it gives you the truth, because the rational mind is the golden calf that this culture worships, but this is not true. Rationality squeezes out much that is rich and juicy and fascinating.”

Albert Einstein: “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

Steve Jobs: “The people in the Indian countryside don’t use their intellect like we do, they use their intuition instead, and the intuition is far more developed than in the rest of the world… Intuition is a very powerful thing, more powerful than intellect, in my opinion. That’s had a big impact on my work. Western rational thought is not an innate human characteristic, it is learned and it is the great achievement of Western civilization. In the villages of India, they never learned it. They learned something else, which is in some ways just as valuable but in other ways is not. That’s the power of intuition and experiential wisdom.”

When Picasso began a drawing he would hold his pen above the blank page, not knowing what he was going to draw. Then he would touch the nib to paper and let his intuition guide his creativity and the drawing would flow from his hand. Writers say that just the act of showing up at their keyboard everyday, allows the words to pour from a place they can’t intellectually tap into. But intuition doesn’t just belong to the artistic. Intuition and creativity are an integral part of us all. They are interconnected, interdependent and interchangeable from each other and from all our other human capabilities. The more we develop those aspects of ourselves the more everything else flows in a transference that quantum physicists like to call ‘instant information transference’. We make better decisions, we learn more easily, we understand more, we make more original connections, we are more empathetic, we see things more clearly, we gain a deeper insight into our own purpose and we find life more meaningful.

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

Intuition and creativity help build our intelligence and guide our behavior, whilst creating a fertile field for making innovative progress. Our brains are plastic, always ready to be stretched, molded and developed. All we have to do is get out of our own way, pause, listen and learn from that quiet inner compass and gradually our mind expands, our intuitive voice gets stronger, our ability to think creatively and make connections grows and our intelligence becomes alert, responsive and boundless.

To develop our intuitive strength

  1. We must learn to become to attuned to our intuitive sense

  2. We must learn to interpret what we tune in to

  3. We must learn to act on what we have connected to

Learn to use your intuition and creativity by working with me as your creative coach, and create a richer life for yourself. Email me to find out more: Lou@createlab.co.uk

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

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Motivational Mondays: Art of Persuasion

There are many reasons why you might want to persuade someone to do something, and many times that you might need to. Children are the artful manipulators in the use of persuasion and bring wheedling, needling, tantrums, cajoling, charm and guilt-tripping to bear on the matter, when all the parents have in their arsenal is the word ‘no’. But no upstanding adult has the desire to fall back on this childish approach, surely?

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

Well, maybe sometimes we are sorely tempted, and isn’t turning the subject up to the boil with an angry spat the quickest, sharpest way to get your persuasive edge to cut to the quick? Unfortunately not as a general rule. We do have to be as creative as children in our attempts to bring our case to the table but our real success lies in our ability to understand how the power of persuasion actually works.

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

Whether it’s negotiating with an aggressor in a war zone or a child in a sweet shop, what you are not doing is trying to coerce them. It has to be to the benefit of them and you, not just you. And helping them to see why it is a benefit is the real art. Start by identifying those who will come round to your way of thinking pretty easily. They probably share a similar mindset and references. It won’t take much to swing their vote. The others who are entrenched in their own persuasions will take longer. It takes time. And patience. Think of segregation in America. Dr Martin Luther King was a great persuader. “I have a Dream…” He already had black people on side because they were suffering the degradation he was trying to change. Then he got the white folk who knew it was wrong and that it was time to do something about it. Then it was those who hadn’t really thought about it but recognized now when confronted with it, that it was wrong. And then those who felt guilty but went with the flow; afraid to rock the boat. Then those who found it inconvenient to change but saw they were beginning to stand out as the bad guys. And then the laws changed and the staunch resisters had to come on board. Slowly some of those got the immorality of segration and their minds shifted. And then there are those left behind whose racism is so deeply ingrained that perhaps they will never see the light. But the fighters of the cause will never give up trying to find a chink in their armor. Because in the end it benefits everyone, for humanity to work together.

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

When you start with passion, honesty, integrity and compassion, you are in a better position to offer a solution to a problem in a way that people are more likely to listen to with an open mind. As Oprah Winfrey says: “Align your personality with your Purpose” and you and everyone else will be clear about who you are and where you are coming from. Come at people aggressively or sneakily and their shackles will rise, their defenses will shift up a gear. People don’t listen when they feel attacked or manipulated. If you genuinely believe in your case then your best chance is to tread lightly and slowly. The same goes if someone is trying to sell something. Traditional selling-methods leave a bad taste in our mouths. We are highly attuned to the Pitch. We know the pattern. But nevertheless we get drawn in, flirted with, flattered, then bam, here comes the left hook and their hand is in your wallet. As much as you know it, hate it and resist it, the cunning salesperson is in there with a sledgehammer. And there you are, having bought something you don’t want. Or you’ve spent more than you can afford. That’s not the ethics of persuasion we are interested in. You must believe that the other person will be better placed, if they choose to take your proposal on board.

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

And you don’t know if they will benefit unless you become consistently invested in them. Know what they like, be interested in what they do, be curious about their values, needs, habits, dreams and goals. Understand what makes them tick. Engage with them on a regular basis. Celebrate their triumphs and commiserate in their disappointments. Help them climb over their hurdles and through their battles. Let them test your integrity and authenticity. Let them challenge your convictions and beliefs. Let them try your patience. Let them see you walk in congruity to your beliefs and talk in tandem to your actions. For, as in building any relationship, they must have evidence of your solidarity to your word. Be a leader by shining example not by blunt instrument. See how slowly persuasion grows in potency over time and context. And through persistence you grow trust in those you wish to follow you, get to know you, befriend you and become loyal to you. With small gestures of good will, meted out in genuine tokens of generosity and kindness, you open them up to you and to your ideas and solutions. When you ask them to help you in return it touches their human need to reciprocate and they will do what they can, if they can. (TIP: read  ”Influence” by Robert Cialdini)

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

In the digital age where so much is available for free, we must tap into the free exchange. Some people are still afraid to offer giveaways but as social media marketeer www.SharonLavenia.com says on Julie Hall’s Expert Ways series “If that is all you have, then you are in serious trouble.” It is easy to give free stuff. It helps people to like you and then when you have something to offer that they need, your levels of persuasion need only be gentle; they are already with you in spirit and they will pay because it suits them to. If you panic into high velocity persuasion tactics it turns people off, they think you are in it for the quick buck, not because you do what you do out of passion and conviction. Consider Abraham Lincoln, who lost his mother, three sons, a sister, his girlfriend, failed in business and lost eight separate elections before he was elected president of the United States. People voted for him because he believed in what he promised and he never swayed from his path, no matter what rocks were hurled at him. People stood behind him because he had the strength to persevere and the tenacity to hold firm. His conduct was his conduit to his followers. He stayed constant and true to his values and he attracted those who recognized and aligned themselves to that. He validated those people and their concerns and dreams.

I have talked to nearly 30,000 people on this show, and all 30,000 people had one thing in common: They all wanted validation… I would tell you that every single person you will ever meet shares that common desire.” Oprah Winfrey

When we lay out our table with what we can provide in a motivating, invigorating, refreshing and trustworthy way, we draw people to us. But when we validate them; by being aware of their feelings, recognizing their needs, respecting their values, accepting their rights, by showing we think they are important, we honor them and that counts for everything. We have no need to second-guess what they want, we just have to stay consistently congruent to the path we have created with their validation in our line of sight. When we transgress that silent agreement, we create a cesspit of calamity. Look what happened to Volkswagon. They had generations of loyal followers, they stayed true to their purpose; they gave ‘cars for the people’. And then they blew it by secretly tampering with the clean diesel regulation tests in the US. Decades of unbroken belief in the brand were brutally severed in an instant. They torched trust and time-honored affection. They stepped off their path in pursuit of profit and their world and everything they built came tumbling down. It will take a very long time and creative understanding to gently bring back customers into the fold. They have to start again, under-promising but over-delivering. They have to open the vaults of Volkswagon’s values to scrutiny and skepticism. They have to rebuild relationships and rapport, one customer at a time. Betrayal is the enemy of persuasion, and humility and honesty will from now on be Volkwagon’s only friends.

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

Our words, actions and images are the prisms through which people view our mission and so they must reflect the essence of our message and our authority. It creates a consensus of people who have confidence and certainty in us. They know that what we offer is right for them and that we won’t let them down, to the best of our ability. Communication is key and where there is conflict we must bring calm and conviction. Anger and armies must be the last resort, used when all else has failed and only in a short, sharp, shock treatment. Years of war just wear people down, only dribbling to inconclusive misunderstandings, resentments, disharmony and never-ending eruptions of discontent and violence. Humanity owes it to itself to constantly fight for peaceful persuasion no matter how long it takes.

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

And in our daily lives, at home and at work, we must know ourselves first and then make it our life’s work to know, understand and relate to others. When we do it honorably, people will invest their belief in us. The world will always be a land of negotiation, a place where we jostle for scarce space, shelter, food, warmth, love. But the power of persuasion helps us interact, evolve and grow with, and around each other, in the pursuit of creating better lives.

If you want to know more about the influence and persuasion watch this fun video.

https://youtu.be/cFdCzN7RYbw?list=UU8IMseLCZx2BZe3thxHXnog

If you want help with your persuasive techniques go visit Bushra Azhar at

http://www.thepersuasionrevolution.com/a-revolution-you-say/

Or if you want to work with me to get more creative in how you run your life, your business or your organization, contact me to find out more on Lou@createlab.co.uk

Follow my daily uplifting Picture Posts on Twitter @createlab Instagram create_lab Facebook Lou hamilton

Motivational Mondays: Creative Brain

The aha moment. Something sparking. Flash of inspiration in the face of a problem. Coming as if from nowhere. How do these moments of creativity happen?  It is creative insight formed in the grey matter between our ears, that fires our imaginations into technicolour.

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

Survival and evolution of humanity fundamentally depends on innovative imagination. Our ability to think in novel and useful ways, is one of the defining features of human species. Creativity has been essential. Every leap forward has been as a result of insight- flying to the moon, curing disease, inventing the iPhone, outmanoeuvring the hairy mammoth. Creativity’s root is the spontaneity and problem-solving that defines everyday life.

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

Previously, studies on creativity have been done through psychology and observation from the outside. Now, we are told in the BBC Horizon programme on Creativity, with the tools of neuroscience we are able to see what is happening on the inside when creativity occurs and inspiration strikes. The programme uses experiments to assess how problem solving occurs, by looking at where and when the brain fires up. It seems we are thinking differently when we have a creative moment. In a flash of insight, the left lobe (approx just above the ear) doesn’t really react but area above the ear in the right hemisphere, does. They are actually wired slightly differently too. The left brain (logical) has short wires for pulling in information from nearby, the right brain’s (creative) wires branch out more broadly, gathering sources of information by reaching out and connecting to distant, unrelated ideas. It is here that novel concepts and solutions get made.

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

However, just before the spike of awareness occurs in our mind, there is a burst of activity at the back of the head on the right side as it momentarily shuts down part of your visual cortex, like closing your eyes to block off any distractions; just enough to allow the new idea to bubble up as insight. When someone asks us a difficult question, we’ll often look away, or down, anything but at the distracting face in front of us. We look inwards and our brain works out the answer. So if we want to have more creative sparks, we need to shut off our mind from the outside world on a regular basis. Fashion Designer Isaac Mizrahi in his 2008 TED talk speaks of insomnia being a great asset to his creativity. He lies awake thinking about his designs. Often he walks at night, perambulating through ideas. He walks a lot in the day too, following interesting people for inspiration, stopping them to take a picture of their shoes or a cut in their jacket. He searches for mistakes, tricks of the eye, accidents or convergence of images. He’s inspired by movies- the way the light makes the colours bounce. His mind wanders across the screen and his own design images start to form.

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

Insight is only part of creativity. Divergent thinking also plays a big part. One of the ways scientists test for creative divergence is to score people on the most creative different uses they can think of, for a simple object. Eg a brick as a building block, or a paper weight, or a work of art in the Tate Modern. This measurement is different from the traditional IQ test which tests for intelligence. There is overlap between intelligence and creativity but they are different from each other. In the brain the neural pathways thin out in the creative areas of the brain, long winding roads, allowing for new thinking to emerge. In the same way, when we go from driving on Birmingham’s busy spaghetti junction and head for the hills, we feel ourselves relax, our minds slow down, and space clears in our heads for creative thinking to gestate. Intelligence is about speed, the quickest route from a to b. Creativity is slow and meandering.

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

Tests performed by scientists on the Horizon programme, show that performing an intellectually demanding task diminishes creative agility but also that doing absolutely nothing also lowers our ability to make creative connections. The ideal state is formed by doing something mundane, that occupies us on a basic level but gives room for the creative mind to wander, pause, question, fire up, and bring solutions, associations and new ideas to the surface. Fishing, washing up, ironing, doodling, polishing the car, digging the garden, flipping burgers, bean counting, taking a shower. So if you are struggling with a problem, get up and walk away from it. Go do something monotonous and physical, get out of the way of your head, and your brain will do the work for you. You have permission to goof off. Get bored, switch off your devices. Creativity is a shy creature and tends only comes out of its shell when there are few distractions. The comedian John Cleese describes this approach as making ‘a tortoise enclosure for your mind’. If you allow your thoughts to drift on the morning commute or while folding laundry instead of listening to a podcast, you might well come up with more creative solutions.

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

Everyone has creativity hardwired into their brains at some level. Maybe we aren’t jazz musicians but we all have to improvise and innovate our way through our days. Our lives come unscripted, we are thrown curve balls all the time and we respond in the best way we can. You burn the pizza, you have to scour the fridge to come up with an alternate meal. You fail your exams, you have to rethink your future. You miss the last bus home you have to figure out which way to walk. You forgot to do your homework, you come up with a story for your teacher. We are generating new ideas, responses, bounce-backs all the time. It requires making leaps, taking risks, jumping in on the back on our gut instinct. It means switching off our Front Cranial Gatekeeper that’s firing all guns in the front areas of our brains (pre-frontal cortex)- the conscious self-monitoring area that makes us human not animal. Without this area restricting your flow you are much more likely to be able to tell your controlling, uptight boss to get lost when he has micro-managed your creative project into a logical brick wall. Doodlers, cartoonists, illustrators and rappers run rings around the Front Cranial Gatekeeper, which is why upstanding citizens think they are eccentric oddballs. But encourage our pre-frontal cortex to take an extended vacation and our creative drivers lose their inhibitions and are left to fish for subconscious inspirations as they swim up into consciousness.

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

Doodle by Lou Hamilton

So if you want to get more creative, think more strategically, skateboard on the half-pipe of innovation and improvisation, or just have a more interesting insights, you must learn to disrupt your mental fixedness. This is where your view of the world, your attitude, your perceptions, your approach, your beliefs, and responses have become stuck down a one way street. By breaking these habits, it gives you more chance to make new associations between concepts, new connections and ideas. People struggle to like green vegetables. Then someone comes up with the idea of sticking them all in a whizzer with algae and hey presto, all of California and some risk-taking areas of the UK are buying Nutri-bullets and drinking green vegetables for breakfast. To reassure those who prefer bacon, you don’t have to switch to green smoothies, you can disrupt any routine to get your creativity hike. Be more flexible and you will think more creatively. Isaac Mizrahi lurches from being slightly bored often to being spurred on to try new things; purposefully and regularly putting himself in the way of discomfort. He sings in a Cabaret Act and when he hears recordings of himself he is mortified at his audacity to release his voice to an audience. But it stirs him up, gets his creative synapses sparking.

Photo by Lou Hamilton

Photo by Lou Hamilton

Neuroscience proves that we are all fundamentally creative and that we are in control of becoming even more so. Creativity is stimulated by boredom, by mundane tasks, or by trying different and new experiences. Just performing an activity that isn’t normal to you, boosts your creativity levels by 15%. Our lives benefit from having insight into our problems and being able to thinking our way out of a fix, but moreover, by boosting our creativity, our experiences become richer, colourful and more vibrant.

  • Slow down

  • Empty out a part of your day to let your mind drift

  • practice thinking of different ways to do the same thing

  • improvise more by ditching your routine

  • put yourself in front of new and unexpected experiences, often

  • take risks

  • try doing something that scares you every day

  • Alternate your problem-solving work with mundane physical activities.

Get help enhancing your life with a creative approach by working with Creative Coach Lou Hamilton. Find out more by emailing Lou@createlab.co.uk

Follow her daily inspirational Picture Posts on Twitter @createlab, Instagram create_lab, Facebook Lou Hamilton.