The two types of creative people – which are you?

When it comes to creativity, there are two types of people. Let’s call them Type X and Type Y.

Type Y: They don’t think they’re that creative. Or sometimes they do, sometimes they think they are a genius but then something happens. When they look back at the thing they’ve created they can only see fault in it. Sometimes they even destroy their own work, it’s never quite good enough. Sometimes they have so many ideas, but when it comes to taking action, they don’t know which to pursue. If they pick one it suddenly becomes less than it was, with all enthusiasm evaporated away. They always think that someone else is probably better at doing whatever it is they do. They try to keep that fact a secret, sometimes by hiding away, sometimes by hiding their work away, sometimes by not doing anything at all. And yet some days they are so prolific and everything they touch turns to gold.

If you asked them to write a book you’d get three half finished manuscripts and a list of further ideas as well as a treatment of how one of those ideas could be made into a film.

If you asked them to solve a problem you’d get a weird answer straight away, they’d start at the end and work backwards or their answer would raise more and bigger questions than the original problem.

Type Y people ask the question, ‘why?’. The Y stands for the openness of Yes. The symbol of the Y shows an upright line, splitting into two, reminding us that Type Y people increase yield by turning one thing into two things.

Type X: They think they’re highly creative. Or at least they tell everyone that. Or they will tell everyone that they’re as creative as they need to be. Or they’ll tell everyone that creativity isn’t really that important. If they doubt themselves and their work, they never show it. Their bravado increases the closer they get to Type Y people who they look down on. They show no pride in their work, but neither do they deride it. They have more interest in completion of an activity rather than the process itself even though they may have spent more time defining the process than the process needs to proceed.

If you asked them to write a book, you’d either get nothing, or a hundred bullet points in a list of unconnected data.

If you asked them to solve a problem it will take them ages while they go through a massive preamble of nitty-gritty that isn’t really relevant, but a straightforward obvious answer will appear on schedule.

Type X don’t ask questions. They make the close down statement of ‘No’ and put a cross to prove something has been judged wrong. The X can also be used to give approval, again as a binary ‘on-off’, black or white decision. The symbol of the X shows that two things can be brought together, processed and passed through their systems, still as two uncorrupted things. Type Y can be caretakers but generate no yield.

So which are you? Or which are you in certain situations? Have a think about the particular situations below and mark with an X or a Y.

When solving problems I am …..

In my relationships I am …..

If I have to make or build something, I am …..

At work I am mostly …..

At home I am mostly …..

I’m happiest working with people who are …..

When it comes to cooking, I’m …..

When I think about money, I’m …..

I’d like to be more like …..

Ayd Instone works with people to explore and unlock their creative ideas in ways they may never have thought possible, to inspire innovation in their lives, and their business.

Book Ayd to speak about the Power of ‘What If?’ and Inspiration for Innovation at your conference, or in your business. A great way to open your event or as an after lunch energiser.

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Embracing your uncertainty

I’ve been watching all the old episodes of TV’s ‘The Apprentice’ – both the US and the UK versions. Watching each episode back-to-back is a different experience than watching it once a week. Apart from driving me mad, the overall impression is about how consistently good the majority of candidates are at certain tasks and how consistently appallingly poor they are at others.

Here’s what they are good at: hard sales, taking action and confidence

Here’s what they are bad at: generating new ideas, presenting, expressing ideas, getting along with and motivating people and seeing the big picture.

It’s interesting that what they’re good at falls into competencies traditionally categorised as ‘left-brain’ controlled tasks and what they are bad at are all right-brain dominated tasks.

Both Donald Trump and Sir Alan Sugar repeatedly make it clear that they’re not looking for another sales person. They’re looking for creativity and leadership. Yet so few people with these skills apply to be on the show (or get chosen to appear on the show).

The reason is perhaps simple, but interestingly not often discussed. Left-brain thinking has a unique characteristic that is not often included in those lists of ‘left’ and ‘right’ brain specialities. Left-brain thinking has confidence and certainty, often even when such confidence is unsupported by evidence. To even apply to be on the TV show you would need to have an unusual level of self-confidence. To actually survive the process and complete the tasks you would need to be able to develop a level of certainty that could drive you through it all. These are strong left-brain attributes.

Right-brain thinking on the other hand, is doubtful and uncertain of it’s own abilities. This is why left-brain thinking always dominates. This is the necessary downside of right-brain possibility thinking, to be able to see the world i flux and as a field of probabilities and uncertainties. It’s this kind of thinking that generates ideas in the first place. It’s this thinking that controls the creative process. It comes at a price, that of self doubt.

This is why so many artists, writers, musicians and performers all at some stage of their careers have periods of massive self-doubt and uncertainty about their abilities. It’s interesting that these are exactly the sort of people that Trump and Sugar need (in fact that ALL businesses need) but these are the sort of people who would never apply to take part is such a process.

What sort of processes do you have to attract and keep these type of people, the creative types who will transform your business?

What sort of processes do you have to nurture your own confidence in your creativity?

Once we become aware that this is how the brain works we can use it to short circuit the duality and use the left-brain certainty and confidence to back up our emotional and artistic sensibilities of our right-brains to empower us instead of undermine ourselves.

Embrace your uncertainty and realise it means you’re onto something. Look at your past successes to help realise you can be more creative, you can use your talents and you can push forward with bigger and better ideas and a more productive life.

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Taste the Moment

We tend to live locked-up in our left-brain controlled critical world. Is it any wonder that we find it so hard to let go and experience the world around us and live in the moment?

I noticed when my son was around a year to 18 months old and he suddenly able to move around, stand up and reach out to explore this strange universe he found himself in. When he came upon something to investigate (like the washing machine), he wouldn’t just stare at it. His first reaction was to get his lips and teeth onto it. Smaller objects were even easier to get in his mouth. It wasn’t that he was hungry. It was his desire to taste.

This was really because taste was his primary sense that helped him experience and make sense of the world. Ours tends to be mostly visual, if we bother to look at all that is. He would want to taste, to smell, to touch and see the object. He wanted to understand it, to feel it, to consume and to be part of it.

A child knows how to live in the moment.

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Thinking on the Eastern side of the Brain

Learning Mandarin is very likely to give you an economic advantage in the years ahead. Recent research has shown that it could help you in other more surprising ways too.

A six-year German-Chinese research project has shown that Chinese brains work faster than western ones. The Chinese students were better at processing information intellectually and quicker at memory tests. But when it came to simple reaction time tests, the Europeans were better. The researchers believe that it is because of how the mind has to process the more complex Mandarin and Cantonese languages than the Roman alphabet. Mandarin has about 50,000 word characters. A knowledge of 3000 would be needed to read a newspaper. A well-educated person may know around 5000. To complicate matters further Chinese languages are phonetic. A vocal change can dramatically change the meaning of words. Mandarin has four tones, Cantonese has eight.

It’s also thought that there is less difference between the left and right hemispheres of the average Chinese brain compared with the average European brain. This is perhaps due to the very visual pattern recognition nature of the language which requires a more even balance of the traditional left and right brain specialisms. European languages are much more left brain dominant.

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Think the Right Way

Some people think they’re a left brainer, “I’m a left brainer,” they say, “I deal with computers, I deal with numbers. I get things organised, I turn up on time. I’m always smart. I’ve always got a pen. I’m a left brainer. I’m not an art-farty right brainer, wasting everybody’s time.”

Some people think that creativity is purely a right brain activity. Some think they’re right brain people and say “Well I’m an artist, I don’t have to turn up on time, I’m not interested, I like being in a mess, I do what I like because I’m an artist and I don’t have to wear a suit. Just don’t ask me to add anything up.”

Well they’re both wrong because we use both hemispheres of our brain all the time. If you really did use just your left brain you would be autistic. If you use just your right brain you would be in a mental hospital. What is really going on is that one hemisphere directs thinking for a particular task (not for a particular individual). The left brain dominates logical thinking, the concept of time, names for things and processes in a linear way. The right brain dominates language and meaning, opertaing in a holistic way. But the two always work together – and must do for you to function.

It’s important that we understand the specialisms of the hemispheres so that we know when it’s appropriate to use left-brain or right-brain directed thinking for a particular task. Let’s have a more detailed look:

Left Brain = Linear, Logical and Sequential
Right Brain = Holistic, Intuitive and Random

The left-brain does things in straight lines (linear) with no deviation. It processes in a logical fashion. It does one thing after another (sequential), one thing at a time. This is exactly how a computer works. The left brain is perfect for knowledge based tasks and since we’ve just come through the Industrial and Information ages, left-brain thinking has, quite rightly, dominated business in the west for a century and a half.

The right-brain looks at the big picture (holistic). This is why a large proportion of successful entrepreurs are creative right-brain directed thinkers. You need to be able to think holistically and see the big picture to have a business plan. The right-brain makes unusual links between disparate ideas (intuition). It carries out processes in a non-sequential order. There may be a pattern, but it won’t be A to B to C. In fact the right brain is a pattern generating and pattern recognising machine.

The left-brain is interested in utility, the right-brain in significance. So the left-brain is ‘function’, the right brain is ‘form’. In business this has a wider implication. When anyone is taught how to sell they are told something very important: sell the benefits, not the features. Few people are interested in how ABS brakes work on a car or even what ABS stands for. They don’t care if they have got ABS brakes or not. But when you tell them that ABS brakes stop your brakes from locking and going into a skid, that ABS brakes will save their life in an emergency stop, that’s a benefit. You sell the benefit and leave the technical description of the features to the appendix at the back of the brochure. A benefit is really ‘so what does that mean?’.

This shows that it’s the right brain that we appeal to when selling, in most people. People want meaning and significance in their lives, in the products they buy and in the services they use. Does your offering appeal to this need or are you trapped in left-brain directed thinking all the time and wonder why your service doesn’t connect with people or that you can’t think of new ideas?

Many business tasks need to be directed by right-brain thinking in the new Conceptual Age: marketing, sales, brainstorming, product development, human resources, lean productivity and customer service to name but a few.

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