One of the fun books I’ve read this year is Imagine! How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer. For those of you who have an interest in creativity, Lehrer’s book will provide some wonderful insight into how to develop and utilize those creative muscles.
Like other authors, Lehrer asserts that creativity is not to be “seen as something otherworldly. It shouldn’t be thought of as a process reserved for artists, inventors, and other creative types.” And, like others, Lehrer affirms that each person is hard wired from birth to be creative. This is good news for those of us who tend to automatically write ourselves off as uncreative simply because we don’t fit the stereotypes of musician, artist, designer, or even an Apple user.
The following is a sampling of the principles that I highlighted in the book:
1. Every creative journey begins with a problem. In other words, the essence of creativity is rooted in problem solving.
2. Every creative breakthrough begins with disappointment. Hopelessness, however, eventually gives way to revelation.
3. We are more prone to creativity when our minds are at ease. A relaxed state of mind fosters the stream of free association in the right hemisphere of the brain. That’s why many of our best ideas may come when we first wake up in the morning. So feel free to daydream!
4. People sharing ideas across fields in horizontal interactions is an important part of the insight process. While our natural tendency is to hoard our ideas, it is through sharing that we find the elusive idea we covet.
5. The ability to make separate ideas co-exist in the mind is a crucial creative tool.
6. Invention is really recombination of ideas that already exist.
7. Creativity is work. If you do it right, its going to feel like work.
8. Letting go of previously imposed constraints enhances our hopes of improvisation and invention. In other words, you can be so concerned about perfection that you stifle imagination.
9. The low hanging fruit has already been picked. Therefore, we need to exercise collaboration and share ideas with others in order to solve seemingly impossible problems. Possessions all become devalued when they are shared. Ideas are the only things that become more valuable when they are shared.
10. Grit is one of the most important predictors of success. Grit helps one reach their potential, because it’s not enough to be good when you can be great.
If you are interested in the topic of creativity or would like to learn how to develop your creativity, this would be a good book to pick up and read. The research is well done, but the best part of the book is the anecdotal stories that illustrate the very point the author makes.