The Battlefield of Ideas

‘Ideas’ seems to be such a positive word. We all like ‘ideas’ and yet there’s a dark side to the concept. You just need to take a look at the news to see that there are plenty of problems caused by different ideas. It’s never religion that causes war, but the difference of ideas (See more on that here).

Ideas are like electricity, fire or money: they can be used for good or evil.

New ideas move the world forward. Powerful ideas shape the future. But dangerous ideas, of which there are far too many, damage the future.

We need more ideas, not because there is not a shortage of ideas in the world but because there is a shortage of new, powerful and positive ideas. There’s an even shorter list of people with enough confidence and opportunity to take those ideas forward and act on them.

We need those new, powerful, positive ideas and the people to carry them through. We need them to combat the noise of bad ideas and the threat of dangerous ideas and those powerful people who proliferate them.

There is a war of ideas going on right now in the battlefields of the minds of the young, the old, across different cultures, at home and at work.

Dangerous ideas of division and hate appear to spread like weeds through the field while beautiful ideas like the flowers of reconciliation and positive change need to be tendered, fed, watered and protected.

Let’s turn the field into a garden, by planting and nurturing the ideas we want to grow, for ourselves and for the future.

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Lateral thinking problems are evil

One bane of working in the field of creativity is the curse of certain ‘lateral thinking’ problems like the nine dots you have to join up without your pen leaving the paper or the paragraph were you have to count the occurrence of the letter ‘f’. Very few people manage to solve these problems and they seem to serve only as examples to prove how stupid we all are, especially as once the obvious answers are pointed out, we’re kicking ourselves that we couldn’t think ‘out of the box’ enough to spot it.

Although interesting and sometimes fun to do, these exercises have little connection with enhancing your creativity. Try this one that circulated on the internet recently:

“I am only sending this to my smart friends. Can you figure out what these words have in common – Banana, Dresser, Grammar, Potato, Revive, Uneven, Assess. You will kick yourself when you discover the answer. Go back, look at them again and think hard.”

The tedious answer is that in all of the words listed if you take the first letter, place it at the end of the word and then spell the word backwards it will be the same word. Did you get it? Probably not. These tests in no way reflect your intelligence or your creativity. There is no evidence to suggest that becoming good at them in any way increases your creative output. In fact, highly creative individuals, those who actually do produce great creative works or ideas, are no better than average on these tests. Being good at these problems means that you will now be better at that particular problem (obviously as you now know the answer). These ‘problems’ are worthless and the reason is that they aren’t about anything. They have little or no meaning. If you failed on the word test above you were probably looking for meaning in the connection of the words. You were actually being creative but unfortunately the solution required you to ignore meaning and look at the features of the letters.

It was a trick, like so many of these so called tests, designed to catch you out. A cheap trick to place the perputrator on higher intellectual ground than his audience. This sort of thing is an anathema to me. It goes against everything I talk about which is that everyone can be more creative. The main thing stopping us is confidence in our abilities which smug little problems only eat away at.

So pay no attention to these parlour games and continue to work on developing your true creativity that will enrich your life and work.

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Wot? No! You must me joking. Would you believe it?

Can you believe that some people say they don’t have any beliefs? Don’t trust these people, they’ll lie about other things too. Of course we all have beliefs otherwise we’d have no certainty in our lives at all – we wouldn’t be able to function. So what do we believe? The truth? You must be joking. People don’t usually believe the truth, people believe just about anything.

Where do these beliefs come from? The human brain is a pattern forming device. If anything appears to be non-random the brain forms a pattern. If I do something and get a certain result and then do it again and get the same result, that’s enough for a pattern to form and a belief to begin as to what will happen next time I do the thing. The brain doesn’t wait for you to use the scientific method to test the theory (which is what a formed pattern is). If it was in the newspaper that’s en ough – it must be worth believing (because other things in the newspaper were worth believing before).

What’s interesting about all this is that your behaviour is always in accordance with your beliefs. In fact, it is impossible to consistently behave in a manner contrary to what you believe. And as we’ve just seen, a great deal of what we believe is weak pattern formed and not based on empirical evidence at all but on superstition and received wisdom.

This is so important to understand because many of us say to ourselves “I can’t” to a thing that we very well could because we believe a pathetic limiting belief in our own ability based on flimsy half observed hearsay and superstition.

This is why people don’t achieve, because they have stopped believing in themselves and their abilities. Stopped following their dreams. Stopped learning new skills. Stopped doing anything that might take them out of their comfy zone.

Note that I s ay ‘comfy’ zone. By that I mean fluffy pink lovely comfy zone like a little yummy cosy nest where each of us live our lives most of the time. I’m not calling it ‘comfort zone’ because that sounds acceptable, rather like the side impact protection system on a car. We live in our comfy zones where we are weak, soft, fluffy pathetic bunnykins.

Where do you think all the solutions to your problems lie? That’s right. Outside your comfy zone. If they were in your comfy zone you’d already have solved them.

So step up and step out and don’t believe a word of it until you’ve got where you want to be.

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