Creativity: From Nothing, Everything
Rich van Schaik has researched creativity since leaving Microsoft in 2004. His first project was creating a 3-dimensional brainstorming application. This application has now morphed into his “Creating in the Cloud” methodology: use the Cloud to create, record, and collaborate on your best ideas. Rich has led workshops in leading organizations like Radical Software, Microsoft, and BCIT. He regularly holds seminars on creativity and brain health.
Creativity Crash Course
In this hands-on workshop, we explore together:
- 5 Steps between “Idea” and “I did.”
- 7 creative brain secrets from neuroscience
- Ideas and Actions: How the brain creates these opposite realities
- Peak performance: turning work into play: what the experts say
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
By Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance
By Steven Kotler
The Organized Mind
By Daniel Levitin
Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence
By Daniel Goleman
By Tina Selig
By Rich van Schaik
Brash, but straight up…
The Secret of Manifesting Is…(Wait for it…)
The secret of succeeding in your manifesting exercises is, manifest less.
You are a flower, a unique flower in the Garden of Eden. Without you, the Garden would be missing an important item, yes?
You can not be replicated. You, exactly who you are. Your dog, your family, the world, the Universe, needs you. As you are. Simply as you are. Full stop.
Now, as you are culturing your pet little idea along, just water it – with activity.
So yes, do think it out, think it again, then drop the thinking and move into the real world with it. You will not move in perfection. But if you move, and move to the the limit of what you can feel comfortable with, and then another two feet after that, a surprise miracle will happen.
Wouldn’t be a surprise if I told you, would it?
So after you have passed the limit of your comfort, as Jennifer Anniston says, “You can do Miracles if you live only 10 percent out of your comfort zone.” A measly ten percent.
Your discomfort only arises in displaying the real you. Now, please be consoled, that is wholly natural, as the real you is a deep delicate reality which feels better never showing its face, but which needs to show its face as part of the drama of the Universe. Imagine a Broadway play where actors were too shy to say their lines.
Only here we do not need to put on a role. The role is what we already dream inside. Just act that out. And each day, push that drama a bit further. This pushing does not need to be uncomfortable, though sometimes it may be and that’s OK, too.
The faster you send it out, the more crazy and fun and real it all becomes.
But the fact is, you are doing your duty to humankind, because you are watering and nurturing that delicate, unique flower that is you.
So each day, just manifest slightly, your idea, your desire. Manifest it. That means make it just a teeny bit more real. Err on the side of action and your senses. Use your hands. Use your feet. Use your voice. Use your phone. Use your blog. Use your friends. Just use something outside of your head.
Of course, your idea loves to live in your head, where the temperature and humidity are perfect. Now you move that idea out of the house. Bang. Out of your head. “Teenaged idea, time to move out. You are big and almost grown up, enough! You will thank me for this later. Do I think you will fall on your face? You bet! I will forgive you instantly. I will chalk it up to Learning. So will you. You will forgive yourself. You will laugh about it sooner than others will laugh at you. That is the teenage way. But it will be exhilarating. Life: much more than high school.”
So push your idea out, and be gentle but insistent about it. Take it to the teeny-weeny next step. Manifest it further into a sensory reality. Something you can taste, see, hear, touch, feel…something others can taste, see, hear, touch, feel…
Once you do that, you will be actively interacting not only with your own thoughts, but with molecules and atoms all over the world.
Then the surprise miracle will happen because some re-action will come from that action that you have set into the world. So you act out, and then the Universe acts back. You will have no idea where the Universe came up with that reply to your activity. It’s got a mind of its own, dammit! How can that be!?! Well, the Universe is also known in some circles as God. Small potatoes for the Big Gal/Guy.
So here, also is the lesson of why it is always better to give than to receive. When you give, you send your energy out as an action. And having authentically acted, a Universal reaction must be one of the results. Don’t expect it, anticipate it, try to engineer it, or pout if it does not come according to your Master Plan. ‘Cause it’s the Creator’s to plan. Check it out.
So just act. Focus. Make a plan. Pick up the very next action item in the sequence of what needs to be done. Do it. You merely need to mouth the lines of the humankind’s best actor named you. “Be yourself, because everyone else is taken”. Manifest a teeny bit, maybe less than you thought was required. But manifest you. You must, by definition, succeed. In. Being. You.
The Focus / Dopamine Regimen
Once you Have all of your great ideas written down, you need to actually get them into action.
By definition, creativity means ideas that are acted upon–ideas that are not are simply exercises in “imagination.” A great, fun thing to do, but not what we are after.
To do this, you actually need to LEAVE the IMAGINATION mindspace and enter the DOING mindspace. You need to leave your acetylcholine behind and pick up some dopamine, kid!
Leave the DMN “task-negative mind-wandering” state (admittedly GREAT for imaginative thinking) and enter the “task-positive state.” Different brain activity pathways, different brainwave frequencies, different neurotransmitters. Wow. Different mindset, different BRAINSET!
A great way to enter this brainset is to FOCUS. Ah, I know that sounds like hard work. But once you get in that brainset, you may not want to quit. So be patient and hold up.
The following show a few different ways to FOCUS. Remember, once your brain is in the FOCUS state, you can take advantage of it and pile on a bunch of work. And it will all seem MUCH easier. But the main thing is to set up your brains state BEFORE you attempt to get much done.
Hack # 0: Setup: grab a half cup of coffee, and some quick calories, OJ, a banana, an apple, etc.
Hack # 1:
Add up the following numbers:
Put your mind to this. Once you have them added up from top to bottom, then add them up again, FROM BOTTOM TO TOP.
So your work will look like this:
Ooops–did you notice that the answer at the top is not the same as the one at the bottom? As you fix this problem, you will find that your focus just about triples–you will WANT to get to the bottom of that problem. Good.
Hack # 2
Look at your list of numbers. Look at the first number, 56987, then immediately look away and repeat it, out loud, BACKWARDS.
Both of these exercises will engage your working memory area of the brain, essential for focus.
Hack # 3
Pull on your hoodie top, and pull it waaaay forward. That’s right, make it look like you are a Trappist monk. Your peripheral vision will be obscured, and you will be FORCED to look ahead, and narrow your FOCUS. Ever wonder why the President of Facebook, Mark Zuckerburg, is famous for his hoodies? Coincidence?
Hack # 4
Plan your activities, then make index cards of the steps, and sequence them properly and put them by your workstation or work area. Follow along. Do NOT give yourself a high-five as you nail each item. Counter-productive, believe it or not!.
Get into the work, and be cognizant that you may resist your mental switchup. That is natural. Of course, your brain wants to stay in its DEFAULT MODE state. Only natural. Know, though, that not much will get done in that state, that is why it is also called (in some circles) the Task-Negative state. What you want (for now, since you need to focus) is the Task Positive State. That requires activation of the Executive State, requiring FOCUS.
As you carry along in your focused work, DO NOT EXPECT TO FEEL SATISFIED OR ‘CONTENTED’ with your progress. This is ironic, but also the way the BRAIN works. What you will feel after some time, is more AMBITIOUS, more YEARNING for results, more WANTING. If you finish one part of the task and feel ‘MOMENTUM’ to continue, then you KNOW that you are entering the Dopamine state. So keep on keeping on. That is what the dopamine state FEELS like and that is where you will get tasks DONE.
Here is a final, blessed irony. We tend to base our self-esteem based on our ACHIEVEMENTS. So long-term, it is very HEALTHY to institute the Dopamine network and GET STUFF DONE, even though SHORT TERM you may not feel great DOING that work. Later in the day, or in the week, we WILL feel satisfied, so keep at it. Lounging on the couch will make you feel comfy for the immediate hours you do it, but later in the day you will lack the self esteem only gotten through achievements, and, finding yourself wanting of those achievements, you will feel EMPTY. So feeling comfortable all day will not make you comfortable in the evening. Weird, hunh? The fact is, you need ALL of these neurotransmitters to be active in your brain to feel whole and integrated and happy, so you need to feed each of these activities—couch surfing **and GETTING IT DONE!–
ps Once you try this a few times, you will find that you will get things done without so much **effort. The reason for that is that you will be sending all of your energy to the project, and not to AVOIDING distractions. So HALF the effort is saved! Good luck!