Ask the Right Questions

Dave Birss writes in his book, A Users Guide to the Creative Mind, about being creative, finding new solutions, and combining ideas and perspectives to create something new. On solving problems he writes, “The best way to find the right solution is to make sure you’re asking the right question.”  I am a huge fan of this quote because it shows how important varying perspectives can be, especially when combined with persistence, a desire to improve, and flexibility.  Too often in our daily lives, be it business, our personal lives, and even national politics, we settle into a single perspective and we begin to approach problems from one side with everyone asking the same question.
If we follow Birss’ advice, then we begin to reach out to find solutions to our problems from new perspectives.  In my mind it is as if we take a problem, and leave a two demential space where we are looking at the problem as if it were a wall in front of us, and enter a three demential space and look at the problem as if it were a sphere where we could change our angle and vantage point at will.  When we begin to look at problems from new perspectives we find that we have different questions about our original problem. In fact we may see that our problem is actually a goal, an opportunity, or just a thought that others have not acted upon.
Asking the right questions is an exercise in persistence because you have to reach beyond the first thoughts and questions that you develop.  You must begin to think of things in new ways, ask others for their thoughts and advice, and not be afraid to voice opinions that may be different.  Our openness to new ideas will help us change our perspective, and our new perspective will help us ask new questions regarding our problem.  When we take this approach to push forwards and constantly grow, we will build new bridges and make new connections with a more well rounded and flexible mind.

Your Posture, Your Surroundings, & Your Creativity

In episode 1 of the Mindful Creator Podcast host Brett Henley speaks with a good friend of his about yoga, mindfulness, and productivity. One of the things that he and his guest discuss is having the ability to refocus our minds through awareness and small changes in our lives. For the guest he was speaking with, changing their posture and bringing their mind back to how they were sitting or standing to adjust to proper form, helped them refocus their mind. In one way she explained that good posture allowed her to relax and open her lungs to allow her to take deep breaths and find a state of mental clarity.  Henley himself talked about times where his productivity wanes and he feels as though he needs to move and allow his mind to recharge. For Henley, going on walks helps to fuel his creativity by getting his body moving, and allowing his mind to tumble through ideas in open space.
The two thoughts from the Mindful Creator align perfectly with an idea that Dave Birss lays out in his book, A Users Guide to the Creative Mind. Birss writes, “Changing location also changes your emotional state and gives you a new perspective on things.” What he is saying in this sentence is that finding a new place to work from, think from, or just observe the world from, will open up your mind in new ways. When Birss begins to feel stuck with an idea he will move his physical location or change his orientation in the place where he is. Much like Henley who uses walks to see something different and allow his mind to move, Birss’ writing reflects the importance of change and movement for creative people. Also, the idea of the guest from episode 1 of the Mindful Creator is supported in the sentence when Birss mentioned how important your emotional state can be for creating.  By opening up ones lungs and finding better posture, you can feel better about yourself and take deep breaths to supply the brain with plenty of oxygen for high powered thinking.

Where Does Creativity Start & End

In his creativity manual, The Users Guide to the Creative Mind, Dave Birss writes about what it means to be a creative person.  He talks about misconceptions that we have regarding creative people, and gives us insights into his personality and what being creative means to him. In a quote he writes, “Being creative isn’t an occupation, it’s a preoccupation.” What he means is that creativity can not be turned on or off. For Birss being a creative person is a full time job. He is always being self aware and trying to identify his thoughts to keep track of his creativity.
Creativity is all about cultivating habits that will build new experiences and fulfill desires to be active. As a preoccupation, creativity is constantly about producing in new areas that expand ones thinking.  The difference between an occupation and a preoccupation for creatives, is that creatives don’t end their work day and step away from what they do. Creatives walk away from one creative endeavor strait into another.  In addition being creative means that you can always take something from one situation and apply it to another.  Learning happens continually as you listen to people talk and provide opinions or ideas (in a constructive and non-pushy way) that come from other situations where you have encountered similar problems or obstacles.  At the same time, Birss would argue that creative people constantly find ways to note what they have learned or new perspectives they have gained, so that they can return to those ideas and incorporate them into future activities.

What is Creativity?

In his book, A Users Guide to the Creative Mind, Dave Birss writes about how to be creative, and he addresses what we consider creative ideas. He uses a quote from the Bible, “There is nothing new under the sun” to help explain his idea of what creativity is. Birss continues and writes, “It’s better to think of a creative idea as a recombination of existing elements,” which strengthens the platform he establishes with his quote from the Bible.
What Birss is saying is that we have popular misconceptions of creativity and creative people. In some ways we believe that creative people are of a different breed, or have different skills and mental abilities than most people.  We imagine brilliant and creative people as having the ability to think of novel ideas to create and design things that have never before been thought of.
Birss is stating that creativity and the creative process is not built upon a foundation of innovative ideas that are new to humanity. Instead, he writes that our minds are not generating anything new, but simply finding new ways of combining ideas.
I enjoy thinking about creativity in this way because it allows me to be creative and not feel pressured into having novel ideas for applying my creativity. His view on creativity is distinctly human since we all have different viewpoints, backgrounds, and interest, and our diversity in these areas can help us be creative by expressing our unique perspectives.