What’s your Creative Dynamic profile?

The creative process that the brain goes though has been split into 7 stages by psychologists. The stages apply for any creative endeavor whether it’s sculpture, scientific discovery, generating new ideas or problem solving.

The stages are:

1. Intuition – holistically defining the problem

2. Saturation – research, fact finding and gaining skills

3. Incubation – sleeping on it

4. Inspiration – the subconscious forces an idea to the conscious mind

5. Evaluation – testing and measuring

6. Elaboration – modifying and improving the idea

7. Implementation – taking action

Even though our minds have to work through all these stages, there are ones that we prefer. This is what I’m calling our Creative Dynamic. If we understand where we like to sit in the creative process it will give us clues as to what could be holding us back (we’re stuck in our favoured stage) as well has showing us where we, and others fit when compiling creative teams.

Have a read through the profiles and see which best describes you and your attitude to creativity.


The Intuitives

These are the people who have a sense, a feel that something is wrong or that something needs to change. Subconsciously they are able to see the big picture, but may not be able to express it straight away. They usually have no data, or interest in finding data to back up their gut feeling. They are able to spot patterns, but not interpret them.

Pro: they have spotted something, which will be real, that few others can see

Con: on their own they may not be able to express the idea or move in any direction to solve or implement it

Where are they? Many women will be natural intuitives. But don’t overlook men who may be less process driven. Intuitive may be sociable, good connectors, emotive and emotional. Sometimes they’ll follow their whims so are attracted to entrepreneurship and leadership.

SaturationThe Saturators

These are people who love having all the facts. They collect data and do detailed research. They are keen to learn new skills and methods, but may never apply them. They rarely notice patterns.

Pro: they will find the information and detail that others will fall short of finding

Con: they will never have enough data and rarely stop to do something productive with it.

Where are they? You’ll find them where there are systems and regulations. They have collections on databases or shelves. They may be jack of all trades but be masters of facts and figures. They make the wrong type of leaders as they value data higher than people.

IncubationThe Incubators/Inspirators

These are the people who are capable of subconsciously processing patterns to create new patterns to find answers. When they do, the Incubator becomes and Inspirator.

Pro: they interpret data to find new ideas, new answers and make connections few other would make.

InspirationCon: they need the right conditions to work and sometimes are too slow to deliver.

Where are they? Often labeled ‘creatives’, they may look and act different as they try to separate themselves from regulation or routine that they know hiders their incubation skills. They are too distant to be leaders in the Western sense (but ideally suited in the Eastern sense).

EvaluationThe Evaluators

These are the analysts who examine what others have come up with to test and measure to see if the new ideas can be used.

Pro: they test to destruction. They are firmly routed in reality and will easily cut off unnecessary fluff and throw our impractical ideas

Con: they cannot invent or create on their own. They can only make judgements on other peoples ideas.

Where are they? They find themselves at home analysing data so naturally you’ll find them in accounts and quality departments.

ElaborationThe Elaborators

These are an interesting bunch of creators who instead of generating new ideas, work best when adapting existing ones. They are in many ways a combination of types 1 to 5.

Pro: best suited to innovation. Let them loose on a system and they will improve it.

Con: sometimes a new idea is needed and changing around what you’ve already got isn’t good enough. They can’t make the quantum leap needed for something totally new and different.

Where are they? They make good pro-active leaders, quick to adapt and adopt. Good in the field so may be great sales or marketing people. They shouldn’t have too much overall authority as they will fiddle and change too many parts that may cause confusion.

ImplimentationThe Implementers

These are the practical engineers who will act upon and put into practice the new ideas and actions.

Pro: They can be trusted to put a plan into action without messing it up.

Con: they need instruction and work to do. They do not innovate on their own, but stick to the rules and carry out orders.

Where are they? On the ground. The dependable, reliable troops. At the coal face, on the factory floor, getting the job done. Shouldn’t be in a leadership role as they will never give up getting their hands dirty and don’t really care about the bigger picture in any great way.

So where did you feel most comfortable? Who else’s profile did you recognise? Do you allow yourself and people around you to play to their strengths? If you do, you’ll find a much greater level of creative mind-flow leading to bigger and better ideas and increased productivity.

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Why I hate tests and why you should too

Multiple choice test formThe teacher explains everything to us and hands out the forms and pencils.

“You’ve got about thirty minutes to complete the test” she says. “Study the question and then choose your answer from the given choices, A, B, C, D or E. When you’ve chosen your answer, take you pencil and colour in the square on the answer grid.”

It’s 1984 and the dawn of multiple choice exams. We’re in the future now. We’re going to be tested by a computer to see if we’re thick.

“What if you change your mind, miss?” says some smart alec.

“Good question. Don’t rub out your answers, just put a large cross through it and make another choice.” she says, “We can then feed the sheets into our computer and it will record you answers instantly.”

It all sounds like a great idea. The computer will read the carbon from our pencil leads I presumed. But what a great test, just look at it, they were actually giving us the answers! How hard can this be?

It’s announced that the test has begun and we all start reading the questions. The fact that they’ve given us the answers was no consolation at all as the four alternative answers are so believable that they might as well be the answer too. How could I tell which was the right one to put? I’m used to giving a considered answer to a question and justifying how I arrived at it. here I can only guess. There are questions like, ‘which is the next shape in the sequence’, ‘if it takes so much time for so many men to dig a hole, how long will it take half a man to dig half a hole.’ that sort of thing. This isn’t as easy as I’d imagined. What are they trying to find out about us? I start to sweat and second guess my own answers. I try to get inside the head of the examiners, knowing they’re trying to trick me.

I look up and around the hall at my compatriots. They all have their heads down. Except one scruff who has his hand up. His pencil is broken. I look down at the answer grid again. Forty questions are listed down the sheet. Five boxes, A to E across. I look at the first twelve answers I’ve put. On the grid they don’t look quite random. There’s a pattern forming. It reminds me of the reel of paper computer tape my Dad had given me that contained a programme, punched in dots, for one of his machine tools. Perhaps the answer grid works like that here? Perhaps the dots of my answers create a pattern of their own, an answer to a much bigger question? A light comes on in my mind. That’s what they’re looking for! The questions are just on the surface, leading the brightest minds to ponder their meaning to solve a greater, more meaningful riddle!

The pattern formed seems to look like a double-helix, like a strand of DNA, spiraling down the answer grid. I’ve found it! I re-arrange my answers to better suit the DNA pattern and complete the answer grid based on my startling new hypothesis. Then it’s all over, time’s up. Papers and pencils collected. Breaktime, we all go outside.

They say that a monkey can get at least 28% in a multiple test. A monkey. If you filled it in randomly you’d get 28%. If you just put all As you’d get 28%.

I got 16%. Less than a monkey, and got put on the stupid list.

In the end, what did it actually prove? Was I in effect extremely clever for imagining that there was so much more to the test? Or was I really extremely stupid for imagining there was more to the test?

We don’t know. That’s why I hate tests and that’s why you should too.

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Avoid the comfort zone of the re-release

Beatles illustration 1967 by Ayd Instone

Illustration by Ayd Instone

We’ve all seen them – the Beatles re-releases on CD, iTunes and the Rock Band video game. Don’t think that this is nostalgia. It’s something else, a bigger phenomenon of re-fashioning and re-making pre-existing material for new audiences to make even more money from what’s already been sold. This concept can prove to be, in some ways anti-creative if we’re not careful.

Artistically, the Beatles have inspired many of the great rock bands (and not just artists in the music industry but all sorts of endeavours in business, art, charity, technology and science) and those that have been inspired have gone onto inspire others.

The continued presence of the Beatles is a good thing; it does the same job as they did in the early sixties – everyone else has to rise their game. Otherwise we’d all have no choice but to be still listening to things like Shirley Temple and Frank Ifield.

It’s like how Apple’s iPhone has raised the game in the realm of hand held communication devices. Every phone company now has their own ‘iPhone beater’ smartphone. Their previous tacky, simplistic and overpriced standard phones are just not good enough. Apple, like the Beatles, proved and continue to prove that it can and should be done well.

But there’s a danger. It doesn’t lie with the likes of artists and scientists, most of which continue to push boundaries and create new content. The danger of the nostalgia and re-release industry is that the audience gets soft. They get comfortable with the familiar and don’t try or value new things.

This is why Hollywood constantly makes (inferior) remakes of classic movies. This is why West End and Broadway musicals are re-hashes of old ones, old movies or successful old back-catalogues. This is why people will go and see a performance of a Shakespeare or Pinter play but not a daring new work by a new playwright.

This is why the music industry in is disarray. The biggest selling act of the 90s was the Beatles. The biggest selling album of the 2000s was: you guessed it, the Beatles. The money just keeps coming in. There’s no real need to search for and develop new talent. When Elton John’s contract came up for renewal, all the record labels clamoured to get him to sign with them; he’s a safe bet. Few are prepared to take a chance like George Martin did with the rough, unknown, unproven Beatles in 1962.

Today there is still a healthy gig-going culture with some great bands. In fact, live music is a bigger industry than it’s ever been. But so many of these never each their full potential because they don’t get the wider backing.

The Kinks were a great live band in the early 60s. They played exclusively covers of hits of the day. People booked them and people went to see them because they were a great band. In 1964 when Ray Davies wrote the hit You Really Got Me they embarked on a recording career. Their first three or four albums are pretty mediocre (with the exception of the included singles). But they were allowed to develop and improve and what followed was exceptional. They became one of the defining acts of the era. That’s unlikely to happen now.

It’s the same in publishing. Massive advance payments and marketing budgets are available for the same old thing or the ghost written celebrity memoirs while the new author with the ground breaking novel is either not published or just left to their own devices and baring some miracle, goes unnoticed.

Until very recently Disney was going to do a re-make of the Beatles 1968 animated feature Yellow Submarine. They were going to use the same storyline, the same songs – but make it in 3D, thereby losing the unique charm of the original. Why bother? Why do it when the original is so good? Why not re-paint the Mona Lisa or re-build Stone Henge while you’re at?

Why redo things? Why not do something new? The Beatles never re-trod old ground. In most cases they didn’t even put the singles on their albums as they thought it would be a rip-off for the fans who’d already bought them.

They never did anything the same twice, there was was always a progression, always something different and they moved on fast. So too did everyone else around them.

We should all be more like that. Try new things. Create new and different approaches. Experiment and move forwards, not back. Re-invent ourselves. Take what has gone before an build upon it, improve it where possible and keep going. Yes, there may be a few mistakes along the way, the odd Magical Mystery Tour TV special or Get Back sessions. The occasional Maxwell’s Silver Hammer. But those slight low points of errors in judgement also allow for the great highs of the successes like Something or Hey Jude.

We need to take risks with our creativity, as both creator… and appreciator.

Creativity and the Beatles

This is an extract from my forthcoming book, Creativity and the Beatles.

Read more here.

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Don’t let your ego get in the way of success

Ayd Instone John Bloor Jason BlundellWhen I formed my first proper band aged 17 we were almost ready to take on the world. By that point I’d written close to 100 songs (and bandmates John and Jase were writing good stuff too). But we had a problem.

With the exception of Mark on drums, we all played guitar. John was far and away the best lead guitar, but both Jase and played rhythm. We had no bass player. With hindsight it’s easy to see that either Jase or me should have switch to bass, even if just for gigs. A year later both of us independently bought bass guitars to use on our recordings and we both quickly learned to be quite good at it. I even enjoyed it (and still do).

The reason neither of us did what was so obviously needed is the same reason that other enterprises fail, be they bands or businesses: we were both totally stubborn and had fixed ideas about what we wanted to do.

Let’s compare this attitude with the early Beatles who faced exactly the same dilemma 26 years earlier. They had three guitar players. John’s artist friend Stuart Sutcliffe had played bass in the early Hamburg gigs, sometimes so badly that he’d turn his back to the audience so no-one would notice he’d be playing the wrong notes. But he had left to continue his painting and be with his German girlfriend, photographer Astrid Kirchherr.

So that meant they had no bass. Who was going to switch, John, Paul or George? It wasn’t going to be George because he was lead guitar which is something you usually can’t do when singing. As George wasn’t going to be a full-time front man it made sense for him to stay on lead. John was stubborn and refused as he identified the guitar as the front-man’s instrument. I bet he’d realised that it would be too hard to pay bass and sing too. I think that Jase felt that way too. In retrospect I should have been the bigger man, like Paul, who switched to bass without fuss. Paul’s genius with melody enabled him to play some of the greatest bass lines in popular music whist singing the main vocal line live. The Beatles then had the perfect line up to create their sound.

My band, The Jinx on the other hand, were stuck with two rhythm guitars and no bass, creating a thinner, trebly sound live with no low end to drive it. As I found out much later, I was perfectly capable of playing bass and singing live. If only I hadn’t put my fixed ideas and stubbornness in front of the big picture.

The lesson learnt: sacrifices may need to be made for success.

Having fixed, immovable ideas can hold you back. I didn’t want to play bass because I wanted to be the John in the band, not the Paul. There were even four members of the band because that was the magic number: anything to be like the Beatles, that was the model. But trying to shoehorn our quite different attributes and personalities into a preconceived model was foolish. It disregarded each individual’s uniqueness for the sake of an fixed idea. A decade later, I found that we were a better band as a threesome, ‘a power trio’. It took that long to break away from trying to follow the wrong prescription.

The lesson learnt: have a model to follow, but don’t make it above question and change it if needed.

The band contained yet another example of this. I’d taken the model of each member of the band being of equal status with Jase and I being the two front men (i.e. the John and Paul), John taking George’s role and Mark as Ringo. In many ways it would have better suited us if I’d been less fair on the spotlight and pushed myself forward as the singer/songwriter and had the rest, as ‘my band’. At the time, that model would have shown our uniqueness clearer to agents and bookers. But Cliff and the Shadows or even Bob Dylan and The Band were not my models. Putting as the main face could have been better, but so too could the idea of making Jase the figurehead. I recently saw a picture of a young Elvis Presley. Out of the corner of my eye I thought I’d seen a photo of Jase, circa 1989. Again, the arrogance and insecurity of my youth did not allow me to realise that we could have sold the band off the back of Jase being pushed to the front instead of me. His tall, dark and handsome Elvis look complete with quiff was exaggerated by his adoption, unlike me, of contemporary late eighties fashions which owed more to the late fifties than the then alienness appearance of sixties fashion which I was looking for. What’s more people came to see Jase, or more importantly, girls came to see Jase. They didn’t come to see me. I thought they should have done, after all, I was the songwriter and band leader. It took me years to discover that girls don’t care about such things. Not when there’s a better looking guy stood there.

The lesson learnt: get the right people in the right roles irrespective of your own ego.

Pride is a hard thing to swallow. Geeky-looking Manfred Mann pushed cool-looking Paul Jones and then Mike d’Abo to front his band. Noel Gallagher knew that his brother Liam was the face that would sell Oasis.

Bill Stainton picks up the best example of this in his book ‘The 5 Best Decisions the Beatles Ever Made’ when he points out that the biggest thing John Lennon ever did, as an arrogant and confident teenager, on the lookout for success and girls, who already had a working band, was to let young upstart Paul McCartney into his band. Paul was better looking, more popular with the girls, a better singer, better guitarist and was also a songwriter like Lennon. Paul was the most deadly rival a cocksure and yet insecure pubescent Lennon could ever have faced. And yet Lennon was big enough, strong enough and far sighted enough to realise that sharing the front of the stage and sharing the glory with this rival would make a better band with a better chance of success. Lennon was proved to be right and was a far bigger man than I was at the same age.

The lesson learnt: bring in people better than you.

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A child’s view… of strangers

When we try to communicate a message to children, what they receive isn’t always what we might intend. I was reminded of this when I thought back to the ‘Stranger Danger’ message that haunted my youth in the late 70’s and early 80s.

There was a rumour that on Sherburn Hill there was a cave in which a tramp lived who had tortured and killed loads of children. You didn’t use the word paedo then. It was ‘strangers’ then and they were always tramps, or escaped mental patients, or both. Naturally everyone at school set off for Sherburn Hill to find him.

It was an interesting dichotomy. In assembly we were brainwashed with fear into the dreadful inevitability of being kidnapped by a stranger, most likely from outside the school gates that afternoon. The councillor’s daughter was exempt from assembly because she was Jewish so she wasn’t allowed to hear All Things Bright and Beautiful. But she had to come back in when it was time to show the Stranger Film.

The premise of the film was that everyone you knew was good and everyone you didn’t know probably wanted to torture and kill you.

But they were clever, these strangers, tempting kids into their Hillman Avengers with the offer of sweets or to come and look at some puppies or kittens (we all groaned, whoever fell for that lame trick deserved to be tortured and killed).

The latest tactic though was harder to spot. The stranger would approach you and pretended your mother was ill and that he was going to have to pick you up, posing as a neighbour or long lost uncle. To survive this threat we were told to have a password, known only to our mothers and ourselves.

The video said we should use the name of our teddy bears. Mine was called ‘Teddy’ so that wouldn’t be too useful.

I started thinking of some complex riddle that would catch out and reveal such a stranger and then longed for the opportunity to try my method out, but I could never find any suitable strangers.

The other place strangers would lurk was on the merry-go-round in play areas. The video warned that strangers actually looked quite normal, just like ordinary people and not at all like the monsters they really were. To demonstrate this they showed a stranger in a playground. His face morphed into a hideously deformed monstrous face, “if strangers looked like this,” said the video, “you’d know not to talk to them.” A few of the girls burst into tears of mortal fear and had to be led out of the hall for counselling. The rest of us were left scarred and haunted by that sudden reveal of the stranger monster in the playground, and for ever more expecting everyone we didn’t know to pull off their fake human visage to reveal a writhing maggot infested melted monster face like Doctor Who’s Magnus Greel or Scaroth of Jaggaroth (both who, incidentally, kidnapped and tortured people).

The stranger concept was burnt into our psyche. So much so that the most memorable television of the era was produced by children on this very topic. Michael Rodd hosted Screen Test where a bunch of kids were shown film clips and had to answer observation tests on them. The best bit of the show was the bit in the middle where they showed films that ordinary kids had made and sent in. These were the days long before video was a viable tool. All the children’s films were shot on cine film. To be able to do that you had to have money, obviously, but also a lot of dedication which translated into talent and skill. This meant that the films submitted were amazingly good. There were at least two that haunted a generation.

There was one called I Scream which was about a stranger who had disguised himself as an icecream man. When some boys came to buy an icecream they were bundled into the van and driven away to be tortured and killed. The closing eerie music to this two minute masterpiece of horror was the ice-cream van tune blending into a piercing scream.

Another was a black and white cartoon of a man dreaming of a hooded figure walking and walking. The figure was death. It walked and walked through a wilderness up to a house. It went inside. We then saw the man sleeping in a room. The door opened and there was the hooded figure. The man awoke in horror, saw the figure and died. The young audience of the country had nightmares for decades afterwards.

The films sent into Screen Test were of such a high quality that the producers went round to one boy’s house, expecting to find it had really been made by an award winning film-maker. Instead they found a 14 year old genius. Screen Test folded when cheap video cameras became affordable and any old idiot could make a film. The producers must have got bored with having to wade though tape after tape of filmed farting competitions.

So we were terrified of strangers, people about which we knew nothing, but fascinated by stories of weirdos and witches about whom rumours abounded as to where they might be found, ready to be sought out and if possible, knock on their doors and run away, laughing with the childish relish that we’d danced with death but were still alive.

Sean and I found the tramp’s cave on Sherburn Hill. Someone had definitely been there and had lit a fire. There were some dirty clothes and rags in the corner. There was no evidence of any child murders, no blood or bones, not even any evidence of shackles and forced slavery. There were bits of rusty metal scattered about. It looked like far more evidence of a Dalek Invasion of Earth so we went off and imagined that instead until teatime.

The message of ‘Don’t talk to strangers’ is a crippling one if you don’t manage to shake it off by adulthood. Many people don’t and therefore aren’t very good at networking. Of course it’s easy to be flippant about this topic, especially when you’ve survived to adulthood when this particular threat is no longer relevant. Until you have children of your own that is.

The Stranger videos were shown less and less in the 1980s as it was realised that a much bigger threat to children came from people they actually did know. It appears successive governments couldn’t think of a public information film to tackle the danger from the school caretaker, care workers or even family members.

I’m surprised the scare tactics haven’t been re-visited to tackle child internet safety which appears to pose a much greater threat to our children than the rare cases of ‘stranger danger’ hysteria of previous decades.

By the way, don’t watch this clip, especially at the 3:06 point.

If you liked this theme of childhood and school memories you may like:

I own the only surviving copy of time

My headmaster still owes me £50

Why do we remember what we remember?

Everyone remembers a good teacher

Where does our ‘right and wrong’ come from?

The Creative Troublemaker

The End of a Friendship

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The Ghost of Yesterday

John Lennon and Pal McCartney by Ayd InstoneAs in all myth, the concept of the creative muse, a supernatural goddess who inspires creative endeavour, contains some truth. Those who have found their creative flow often refer to something coming to them from somewhere else. John Lennon once said that he felt as though he hadn’t actually written his best songs, they had instead been transmitted to him. His ‘aerial’ had picked up the signal and he had written them down.

Many songwriters have described how their songs were ‘transmitted’ to them and all they had to do was write them down. Sometimes they had to leap out of bed to catch the tune that played in their head before it was lost. This has happened to me quite a few times.

I awoke in the night with a fully formed song, with music, lyrics and title complete. I jumped out of bed and played and sang it on the guitar, otherise it would have been lost.

So where did it come from?

A 56 year old man from London claimed recently to have written 350 songs that he was suddenly urged to write by channelling, so he said, the spirit of John Lennon*. The creative process is so weird that it’s easy for many to invoke the supernatural. Mike Powell claimed that Lennon’s ghost visited him after he visited the graves of his deceased parents in 1992. I imagine his experience is less likely to be spectral and more likely to be bicameral.

Perhaps emotions and ideas he was unaware of were being presented to his conscious mind from his subconscious in a way that was so out of character for him and augmented his reality in such a way that it felt as though it must be external. There are many cases of previously un-artistic people suddenly picking up a paintbrush or a guitar and being not only proficient but highly talented. The triggers for these transformations are numerous, but are often unusual stress, or sudden release of stress or even physical trauma.

Paul McCartney said this about the creation of Yesterday, (which became the most recorded song ever). In early 1965 he woke with a melody in his head. It was so powerful that he was sure it must be an old jazz tune. He played it to a few people, but no-one knew it. At that time he didn’t have the words, and as it was breakfast time he improvises words of “Scrambled eggs… oh how I love your legs…” just so he could play through the tune.

He later worked out the real lyrics and the song was released on the No.1 Help! LP in the UK and as a No.1 single in the US. (At the time the Beatles felt the song too sentimental to release as a single in the UK). They even poked fun at it and at Paul when it was first performed.

There’s an interesting appendix to the story of Yesterday. It’s well known that Paul McCartney nearly always wrote about other people in his songs. This allowed him to create masterpieces like Eleanor Rigby and Hey Jude, but unchecked and without Lennon’s realism he was also capable of producing banal and meaningless songs like 1985s Only Love Remains. John Lennon on the other hand, always wrote about his own feelings. This allowed him to give us real emotion in songs like Help!, In My Life, God or Jealous Guy. But unchecked by McCartney’s commercial eye he could easily produce self-indulgent ramblings like Two Virgins, songs with Yoko’s name in and the hurtful How Do You Sleep?

But it’s not that clear cut. It wasn’t until 1995 that Paul realised, while compiling the Beatles Anthology that his 1965 song, Yesterday, apparently on the surface, about the loss of a lover was actually about the very real loss of his own mother a few years earlier from cancer. It was written with his own, secret emotion, all along.

Have a listen to the song again with this context in mind and you’ll hear a pain coming directly from Paul’s unconscious, back there in 1965, at the height of the Beatles glory and fun. A pain that he wasn’t consciously aware of when he wrote it.

Perhaps creativity is a ghost after all, a spectre of energy, emotion and hidden memory that at certain times, perhaps when we least expect it, will come to haunt us.

*Make you own mind up on Mike Powell here.

Creativity and the BeatlesSee the Beatles first ever performance of Yesterday. It’s eerie as the fans emotions change from mania screaming to sobbing as they tune into the song.

This is an extract from my forthcoming book, Creativity and the Beatles.

Read more here.

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The Search for Interesting

What in our lives do we take for granted? What achievements are we proud of, or depend on, that we brush aside in our day-to-day struggles? What deeper meaning and significance would we find and benefit from by looking at the familiar things and people around us, anew?

Click on the photo to see it larger

This is the first ever picture of the Space Shuttle docked on the International Space Station. It’s a unique and beautiful image for so many reasons. Its simplicity hides a deeper meaning and a depth of symbolism.

And yet, many would look at it and assume they’ve seen it all before. We’re so used to seeing images of space these days. We take it all for granted.

And yet if we stop to look and think, if we delve a little deeper into the context of that picture we can begin to find so much more than that original casual dismissive glance.

Here are a few secrets:

• It could be seen as humanity’s greatest collaborative project in history. The USA, Europe, Russia, Japan and Canada built it. It has been visited by astronauts and cosmonauts from 15 countries.

• The Space Shuttle is Endeavour, here on her final mission. She was the Shuttle that brought the first segments of the now nearly competed space station in 1998 and the penultimate Shuttle to fly. Atlantis will take off for the last time in July and the USA’s manned missions to space will (hopefully temporarily) come to an end.

• The photo was taken by  Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli onboard the Russian Soyuz craft as it returned to Earth.

• The Space Station is in free-fall, falling around the Earth at a speed of 27,000km/h (17,000mph) and at an altitude of approximately 355km (220 miles).

• It has cost an estimated £89 billion ($145 billion) to construct and is designed to last until around 2028.

• It has been inhabited by 2 to 6 people constantly since October 2000

But there’s more to it than that. 

Have a think what it took to get that photo. The station has been under construction for over 12 years. Humans have travelled to space for just 50 years but when we think deeper we realise that it has taken millions of years of human development, ingenuity and millions of individuals to get our civilisation and understanding of the universe to a point when that photo could have been taken.

What do you overlook on your way to work? What do you scarcely notice as you rush through your day? What ideas and opportunities could be passed over without realising because we give something or someone just a surface glance?

The Search for Interesting is a definition of the creative urge. Our desire for meaning is the activator of our right brain and the catalyst for creativity and innovation.

Let’s try to think differently and deeper every day, and notice more. We’ll not only find ourselves with richer, more interesting and more meaningful lives but we’ll trigger our own creativity to make more of what we’ve got.

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Do you use your 9th sense?

iphone 3GSWe’ve all heard of limiting beliefs. It’s when a belief you have about yourself or the world constrains your behavior, cutting you off from other opportunities. We all have our model of how the world works which we belief to be true based on the knowledge we’ve been given.

But what if that knowledge is wrong? Here’s an example.

How many senses does a human being have? Give it a number.

Most people will have said 5: Vision (ophthalmoception), Hearing (audioception), Touch (tactioception), Taste (gustaoception) and Smell (olfacoception). Some people may have said 6 but wouldn’t be able to say what the 6th was. Some would say it was ‘intuition’. Those who did are wrong. ‘Intuition’ is not a sense. A sense is a method of data input into your central processing unit, your brain. Intuition is a conclusion made in the subconscious based on those inputs. It feels magical and otherworldly not because it is, but because it takes input from a lot more than 5 sense.

Anyone who told you we have 5 senses was wrong. We have 9.

This is a great case of accepting a fact as being true when it’s not and then our experience is coloured by that error. To find out what our other senses could be, let’s count the senses an iPhone has. In other words, how many different ways can an iPhone take data in?

The answer as far as I can see is 16. It has a microphone, a touch screen, ambient light sensor, a magnetometer (digital compass), an accelerometer (knows which way up it is), a proximity sensor (knows if it’s next to your ear), a camera, 3G receiver, Wi-Fi receiver, bluetooth receiver, docking port, a home button, two volume buttons, a mute button and an on/off button. 16 ways it can collect sensory data.

So think again, how many do we really have? We have an accelerometer that gives us equilibrioception (our inner ear gives us a sense of balance and of gravity). That’s the 6th. The 7th is thermoception, the sense of temperature. The 8th is nociception, our sense of pain (different to touch) and the 9th is proprioception, the sense of our limbs in relation to each other.

When we’re assessing a situation is it data from all 9 of our senses that are filtered through our perception to give us a feeling of the situation. With us unaware of 4 out of the 9 how can we expect to operate consciously at our peak performance with unbounded creativity?

It makes you wonder what other lies and half-truths are holding back our potential…

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