Wednesday, November 9, 2016

How to Reinvent Yourself

1. Know what you want.

Don't just understand what you don’t want. Work toward something with the reinvention. Don't just simply run away from something else.

2. Get clear on what you want and why.

Then when you get it, you will want what you have.

3. Don’t feel the need to justify your move.

If someone is curious about your why, tell him or her in simple and truthful terms. No one can argue with the facts. He or she may have opinions, but the five minutes he or she spends thinking about you is nothing like having to live your life 24 hours a day.  

4. Find others.

Get in touch with a reinvention mentor and someone who has transitioned from one thing to another. Such people are available more places than you would think -- and more people are wanting to reinvent themselves than ever before.

5. Take action.

Every day you spend in stagnation is one less day you’ll spend in success. Small deliberate steps add up. Take one. 
There are simply too many people looking at reinvention as a risk, when it is an opportunity with a poor name tag. 
Instead of asking yourself, What should I do? consider asking yourself, What do I want to get out of what it is that I do?
This rephrasing illuminated a lot for me during my reinvention and I hope it does for you, too. It is after all less about getting what you want and more about wanting what you get.  

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

5 Ways to Turn Your Fear Into Fuel

Fear is part of the human experience. We all have fear. The question is, how do we make sure our fears don’t hold us back from achieving success?

I’m talking about the kind of success that’s more than financial stability. My definition of success is that nobody has their thumb on you. You’re the captain of your ship. You can control what you do with your life and who you spend time with. The people I’ve met with that kind of success are more motivated by one specific fear than any dream, desire or lofty goal.
They’re motivated by the fear of failure. I believe we can use any type of fear as fuel to reach our highest potential. Over the course of my life, I have achieved more out of fear of failure than a desire for success. Growing up, all my mother had to say to me was that she was disappointed, and I would be crushed. My drive to make her proud gave me a healthy fear of failure early on in life.

Let’s be clear: There are healthy fears and irrational fears. The management of those fears is what puts you into the successful category or not. We’re not ever going to conquer all our fears. I’m deathly afraid of snakes, and I do not like heights. I’m stuck with those fears, but how I manage them is up to me.
The key is focus. In some ways, we’ve all got a 5-year-old kid in our heads, telling us we should be afraid of this and that. If we’re going to move forward, we’ve got to take control of that 5-year-old kid. We’ve got to sort out the healthy fears driving us to success from the irrational fears holding us back.
I’ve discovered five areas of focus that are essential in transforming the fears that could cripple us into the fuel for our journey.

1. Focus on your dreams.

I heard a guy tell the story of an eagle’s nest on a mountain. An egg rolled out of the nest down the mountain and wound up in the nest of a prairie chicken. When the egg hatched, it was surrounded by prairie chickens. So this eagle is picking the ground for worms just like it’s a prairie chicken. But he’d look up and see eagles soaring high above, and he’d say, “Oh, I want to do that, Mom!” And Mom would say, “Oh no, that’s eagles. We’re prairie chickens. We peck the ground.” So the eagle spent his whole life pecking the ground.
A lot of us are programmed this way by our upbringing. It’s called the imposter phenomenon. We feel like we don’t deserve success, we’re not worthy of financial stability, or we’re going to be uncovered as frauds. No matter how successful we become, this old fear dogs us unless we turn our attention to our dreams. Rather than focusing on what others would say or listening to the self-doubt in your mind, you’ve got to focus on your goals and keep your eyes to the sky. That’s where you belong. You’ve got to feed your dreams and starve your fears.

2. Focus on the positive.

Bring an attitude of positivity to how you view yourself and the world around you. Focus on the things in life that are good. Don’t fill your head with junk. Stay away from the constant stream of negativity that’s so prevalent in this world. How you view life seeps into your head and creates fears and what if’s. You have control of what you take in and how you react. Look, if you spend all your time focused on your troubles or your weaknesses, you’re never going to become great. Keeping your eye on what’s wrong with your life, yourself, your spouse or your business is a good way to end up broke and alone. You’ve got to focus on what’s right with yourself and the world.

3. Focus on what you can influence.

When fears do creep in, don’t totally give in to them. Focus on what you can control. I see leaders all the time who focus on areas where they have immediacy, not where they have influence. They get distracted by urgency when what they should be focused on is their power to change things for themselves and their organizations. Aim your efforts at the tasks and thoughts that will produce positive results.

4. Focus on the future.

We all make mistakes. I know I do. My life is full of them. But the difference between someone who is dragged down by their mistakes and someone who overcomes them is their ability to focus on the future. Let go of what happened yesterday or last year or 10 years ago. Forgive that person who wronged you so you can be free. It’s not about who’s right or wrong. It’s about freeing yourself from the baggage so you can move forward. You have the opportunity today to create new successes using the lessons you learned from those mistakes.

5. Focus on gratitude.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people bogged down by resentment, self-pity and just a general bad attitude. Unless you’re surrounded by enemy fire on all sides, you have something right nowto be grateful for. Your life is filled with chances to say thank you, to focus on being grateful for the simple things and to share that gratitude with others. Life is short. Practice being a person of honor and gratitude and I promise you that good things will come back to you in return.

Friday, January 18, 2013

15 Reasons Why Daydreamers are Better Learners

The student’s eyes drift to the classroom window and the teacher’s voice fades from consciousness. The daydream begins.
It’s a familiar scene, one we have likely both experienced as students and struggled against in our students as teachers. But daydreaming is not what it might seem. Recent research in both psychology and neuroscience clearly shows that daydreaming is an essential part of mental processing, reasoning and, yes, even learning.

1. Daydreaming is the Mind’s Natural State

The most common view of the human mind assumes that our normal way of thinking consists of concentrated focus upon immediate tasks at hand. But researchers have found that this is not the case.
Daydreaming is now considered to be the normal state of our minds, with focus appearing as a break from the more common mind wandering. A recent study has found that our mind wanders forty seven percent of the time we are awake with very few activities not equally peppered with natural periods of daydreaming.
Another study has shown that the parts of the brain stimulated during daydreaming consist of the “default network” regions of the brain that are associated with most higher level mental activity. This suggests that we have evolved specifically to be a daydreaming species. It is even more telling that those who suffer injuries to the region of the brain in which daydreaming occurs suffer from a lack of spontaneous speech and thought.
The fact that daydreaming is the natural state of the human brain suggests that those who take most naturally to daydreaming will best exhibit the skills necessary for successfully navigating the human world. Far from representing a lack of discipline, daydreaming is a hallmark of a healthy and active human mind.

2. Critical Thinking and Intelligence

Aside from the “default network”, one of the main regions of brain used during daydreaming consists of the “executive network”, the region of the brain associated with complex problem solving. Before this was revealed, for example through the 2009 study at the University of British Columbia, it was commonly thought that the “executive network” was only active during focused problem solving.
As this study suggests, a healthy amount of daydreaming is connected to improved critical thinking capabilities, an invaluable characteristic in successful learners.
It has also been shown that daydreaming is dramatically more present in those considered to be of superior intelligence when compared with learners of average intelligence. One study suggests that the improved integration of the default and executive networks developed through their continual exercise through daydreaming significantly contributes to the formation of increased intelligence.

3. Motivation

It’s a truism that our “dreams”, by which we usually mean our goals and desires, provide motivation in life. What is less recognized, however, is the central role played by the process of daydreaming in envisioning and imaginatively experiencing the lives we wish to lead and people we want to become.
Our goals and desires are what they are because we have spent time freely living through our daydreams what it would be like to achieve them. For these reasons, daydreaming in learners is related to higher levels of ambition and a deeper sense of motivation.

4. Confidence15 Reasons Why Daydreamers are Better Learners

Freely imagining “what you would do if…” is far from idle. Having envisioned scenarios and played out possible events gives us an increasing sense that we can handle them.
In this way the imaginative anticipation that often occurs in daydreaming contributes as much to a robust sense of confidence as it does to a healthy motivation. Think about it this way, daydreaming is a training ground for your mind where it plays through and sometimes struggles with scenarios it has not experienced or wants to react differently to in the future.
Though successful training certainly doesn’t guarantee success during the real event, it does provide a mental preparedness and a firm sense that no matter what may occur we can deal with it. For this reason some of the most confident learners are also those with the healthiest daydreaming lives.

5. Increased Insight

Did you ever wonder what causes that moment of insight when something suddenly clicks or a solution becomes clear? The answer is a lot of hard work on the part of your brain that goes unnoticed.
Moments of insight, those sudden revelations that seem to come from nowhere, are long prepared for through the brain’s ongoing hidden organizing and processing. Daydreaming, as a mental state activating both the default and executive networks of the brain, plays an important role in that organizing and processing. What you may think is just your mind drifting is actually your mind actively forming connections between information, synthesizing what was previously only chaos, and preparing the ground for the moment when things suddenly fit into place.
Once we appreciate this we see that daydreaming is just as productive as spending an hour working on a difficult math problem. Recent work has shown that spending less time on the problem and more time letting our mind wander could contribute to getting the answer faster.
Benjamin Baird and Jonathan Schooler at the University of California at Santa Barbara have shown, as discussed in an article in The New Yorker, that spending time daydreaming after first being given a task leads to more insightful responses to the task than focus and concentration do.

6. Thin-Slicing

In his book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking Malcolm Gladwell discusses the phenomenon of “thin-slicing”, the mind’s jumping to conclusions based on surprisingly little information.
Despite what we tend to assume, Gladwell demonstrates that jumping to conclusions based on limited information is often statistically the most reliable way to arrive at the right decision. For example, Cook County Hospital changed the way it diagnoses heart attacks to focus on less information.
Here is how Gladwell describes this part of the book on his website:  “They instructed their doctors to gather less information on their patients: they encouraged them to zero in on just a few critical pieces of information about patients suffering from chest pain–like blood pressure and the ECG–while ignoring everything else, like the patient’s age and weight and medical history. And what happened? Cook County is now one of the best places in the United States at diagnosing chest pain.”
The key point about thin-slicing is that its effectiveness depends upon two factors. Knowledge, especially when derived from experience, and mental integration that allows for swift access to the knowledge and experience we have gained. If we return to our image of daydreaming as the training ground of the mind, the increased integration it imposes on knowledge and experience we have collected improves our ability to successfully jump to conclusions based on little information.
It makes us more successful thin-slicers and improves our split-second decision making.

7. Improved Problem Solving

What is problem solving? From what we have already said we might suggest it is an effective use of the default and executive networks of the brain resulting in increased intelligence, critical thinking, insight and thin-slicing.
The argument that the integration of default and executive networks results in improved problem solving is offered by the author of Daydreams at Work: Wake Up Your Creative Powers, Amy Fries, in an article at Psychology Today: “…your mind-wandering capacity is like that computer program–it can get to solutions that your conscious mind just can’t see.”
In general daydreaming makes us better thinkers. Being better thinkers makes us better learners.

8. Coping

The traditional view of daydreaming understands it as a form of escapism.
We are unhappy or uninterested in where we are and so imagine we are somewhere else. It is important, this view assumes, to resist this escapist urge and instead cope with the world as it is. It turns out, however, that daydreaming is itself a central element of our mental coping mechanisms.
As already mentioned, daydreaming provides the brain with the exercise course where it can secretly play out different solutions to problems. More than this, however, those precious daydreaming moments allow us the conscious rest necessary to face difficult tasks or situations with a fresh mind. Yet, during these seeming moments of rest, the brain is still hard at work beneath the surface organizing potential responses without the generally awkward interference of conscious thought.
Researchers such as Eric Klinger have shown that children who weave an imaginative story around their play are likely to be happier at play and to play longer. It is easy to generalize this point to adults as well, the ability to tell ourselves imaginative stories about the world and our own lives through daydreaming makes even the tedious or downright painful parts of our life more enjoyable.
In learning the ability to cope with challenging, frustrating or boring tasks is a key ingredient for success.

9. Mental Elasticity

Coping is a key element of mental elasticity, the ability to shift our thought and behavior smoothly in response to changing situations and information.
Daydreaming, as the practice ground for mental processing, greatly increases the mind’s ability to smoothly shift in the face of unanticipated events and situations. So while daydreaming clearly contributes to organizing information and experience we have already learned, making the learned material more useful by improving our ability to apply it, it also enhances our response time in the face of the unexpected.

10. Creativity

Recent research has shown that children with a healthy amount of empty play time, i.e. play time not directed through specific games or spent watching television, display a greater amount of creativity.
Those, on the other hand, who tended to turn to entertainments such as television when bored were unable to invent interesting stories. The time spent daydreaming during imaginative play is a practice period for creative invention. The neuroscience of this should be clear when one considers the similarity between problem-solving and creativity in general.
Those parts of the brain used during creative problem solving are also used during daydreaming.

11. Concentration

Concentration, while certainly important in both education and life, is not something we can increase simply through hard work, practice or will.
The brain, much like a muscle, can indeed be improved but there is a limit to how far it can be developed. The fact that we are a daydreaming species and that daydreaming is the natural state of the human mind points to the artificiality of the mental states associated with extended concentration.
What is becoming clearer is that concentration is not as simple as one might think. Rather, what appears to be the ability to continually concentrate on one problem or subject is looking more like a complex play involving using daydreaming rest periods, even surprisingly brief breaks, in a way that refreshes our ability to concentrate. Consider daydreaming like taking a power nap.
Even a half-minute spent briefly relaxing control upon the mind can improve a learner’s concentration immediately after this break.

15 Reasons Why Daydreamers are Better Learners12. Increased Short Term Productivity

Even as concentration works best interspersed with brief, and some times longer, moments of daydreaming “rest” during which the mind synthesizes what has been gained, so too does productivity in general go up when it is demanded in smaller bursts and peppered with healthy moments of daydreaming.
This is nowhere demonstrated as clearly as through the highly successful Pomodoro Technique for time management. This technique employs a timer and breaks productive work into twenty-five minutes segments with a short five-minute break between each segment of work. After four such segments of work and breaks you take a longer break of fifteen minutes. This technique’s surprising ability to increase productivity depends upon the mind’s limited power of concentration with moments of daydreaming rest needed between periods of increased mental control.
What it suggests is that teachers would do well, not only to appreciate the importance of daydreaming for successful learners, but even to organize lessons so as to actively encourage short breaks for daydreaming.

13. Connection to Class Material

Learning is nearly impossible if students do not feel connected to the material they are learning.
Students have to care about what they learn to be the most successful learners. This connection to the material involves imaginatively playing with the material through which students rearrange and experiment while finding ways to connect it to their wider concerns, life, and fantasies.
For this reason students who actively daydream, especially when they are encouraged to incorporate class material into their daydreams in whatever way they like, are much more successful learners.

14. Increased Empathy and Emotional Intelligence

One of the most important skills for people in general, let alone learners, is what we might call the “moral imagination”.
The moral imagination is the ability to think oneself into another person’s shoes, to imagine what it would be like to be them. This skill is necessary if one is to expand one’s sense of sympathy and empathy, but it is also a key element in problem-solving and reading comprehension. If a student is to understand a text or solve a problem what is required is creatively putting themselves in the place of the characters in the text, or in the sphere of life that most naturally relates to the problem to be solved.
For this reason emotional intelligence, the ability to have a varied and complex emotional life through engagement with and response to the emotions of others, is a central if unexpected element of all mental processing and learning. It is just this ability to imagine our way out of our own situation and into that of another that daydreaming develops and encourages.
For this reason not only are daydreamers more empathetic and emotionally open people, they are also better at comprehending literary and historical texts.

15. Improved Self-Knowledge

Since the time of Socrates it has been thought that coming to know ourselves is both a major goal and the foundation of all truly successful learning. We can think about daydreaming as carrying out a dialogue with ourselves.
In contrast, watching television or playing video games primarily involves an external exploration or dialogue, one that can involve learning but doesn’t often involve reflective self-discovery. If we are to be successful learners we need to have a robust sense of our interests, our goals and the talents or skills we wish to have.

This intimately involves the imaginative self-exploration only a healthy daydreaming life can provide.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

6 Keys To Delivering A Powerful Elevator Pitch

When you only have a small window of opportunity to make a lasting impression, it's crucial to be prepared long before a chance encounter.
In her book Small Message, Big Impact, Fortune 500 consultant Terri Sjodin discusses the most effective ways to deliver an elevator pitch. She's given us permission to outline the best tips from her book here:
1. Know exactly what you want the outcome to be 
Whether to get the ball rolling on a job or project or something larger, you should know exactly what you want from this presentation before you plan on going out and executing it.
"Your message is like your song, and you have to let it be heard," Sjodin wrote. "Believe in it, share it, and eventually, it becomes a natural part of your communication."
If you don't have an aim or goal for what you're setting out to accomplish, there won't be much conviction or direction in your message.
2. Tell your audience what they'll get from your proposal
Use "Monroe's Motivated Sequence" to be informative and persuasive in your speech:
1. Gain their attention by being able to relate to them.
2. Convince your target that they "need" your services or product.
3. Satisfy their problems with a suitable solution.
4. Get your audience to visualize their future with your product or service.
5. Tell your audience exactly what you want them to do today and exactly how to do it, and explain what you will do once they have made a decision to move forward. 
3. Speak in your own authentic voice
Unless you practice your speech, you won't be able to speak with poise and polish. And with poise and polish comes certainty and confidence. Finding the right words and using a comprehensive vocabulary will allow you to make your case with conviction.
4. Control movement to attract your audience
Is there a way you should walk and pace to best control your audience's attention? Sjodin has created a six-position approach to aligning your stance and movement:
1. Start in the center of the room to make your introduction.
2. Take 2-3 slight steps to the right, plant your feet and make your first point.
3. Then walk 3-4 steps back to the center and make your second point.
4. Next, go 3-4 steps further to the left and make your third point.
5. Walk slightly ahead and towards the center to start your conclusion.
6. Finally, finish your conclusion by taking 1-2 steps forward.
5. Break down each talking point 
You can break it down into:
1. Argument: You have to show your audience why they need you, your company and your product.
2. Proof: Use statistics, stories or analogies to make your point and satisfy your audience so they'll have the incentive to need you.
3. Visualization: After your argument and proof, your audience may be thinking "so what?" You need to show your audience what your argument means to them and how it will directly benefit them both immediately and down the line.
6. Close in an unforgettable way 
You spent all this time on developing your argument, but getting your audience to make the next step is crucial. It's the reason you came up with this speech in the first place. 
At this point, you should have engaged and enticed your listener or listeners in a creative and mildly clever way.
If you don't build a strong argument with a compelling case for why your pitch should matter, you won't be taken seriously.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Secrets Of The 30%: 5 Rules To Turn B2B Marketing And Sales Into A Growth Engine

If you knew that you had a 70 percent chance of failure before starting something, would you still go ahead and do it? Those are the odds B2B leaders in marketing and sales (M&S) face when they embark on a transformation effort, and they underscore why attempts to raise brand visibility, customer satisfaction, and sales often flounder.
That’s a big problem because an effective M&S transformation drives significant growth. We’ve seen companies increase their operating income by as much as 10 times the cost of the transformation program in its first year.

grow the top line or when the company finds it needs to switch to a new business model to keep up with changes in the industry or with its customers. These transformations need to focus on increasing ROI for the company, improving organic growth, or out-executing competition.
One steel processing company, for example, overhauled its M&S function to stop a steady deterioration of margins. It reorganized the sales organization and built account management, prospecting, and customer segmentation skills across the entire company. The result? Product profitability increased by almost 50 percent within one year, and the company outperformed its peers for the next three years.
The 70% – why they fail
Our survey of 2,300 executives unearthed three key reasons why M&S transformations fail:
  • No love.  Marketing often does not have a seat at the executive table because of a perceived lack of bottom line impact. This issue makes it hard for marketing to get the kind of support from other departments that it needs for the transformation to work.
  • No discipline. All change efforts take time, but M&S programs take even longer because they tend to be more complex and require more cross-functional cooperation. “Get-it-done-yesterday” pressures undermine the discipline and patience required to see big changes through.
  • No muscle. Our survey found that 75 percent of companies lack people in M&S groups who are skilled in change leadership.
Joining the 30 percent
 So how can you make sure that your company is among the 30 percent that succeed?  Here are the five things you need to do:
1. Hold yourself and others accountable. Our survey found that this aspect was the most important influencing skill in up to 52 percent of successful transformations. Leaders need not only to model activities and report results for which they’re responsible, but also to identify issues that slow down the change process. One European telecom company, for example, was trying to improve its customer experience to help avoid churn. The head of sales asked that 25 percent of his variable pay and that of his direct reports be determined by the company’s success in delivering a great customer experience. That accountability sent an unambiguous signal to the organization about how important the transformation was.
2. Reach out across the organization. M&S leaders can’t do it on their own. The IT department, for example, can help develop relevant analytics; product development can work to increase customer satisfaction.  While the CEO must encourage  cross-departmental collaboration, our data make it clear that ultimately it’s up to M&S leaders themselves. We recommend holding regular “marketing summits” with members from relevant departments to discuss progress and concerns. Make sure that everyone understands their individual and team role in the transformation, and is responsible for specific assignments.
3. Monitor project performance AND health. It’s critical to focus on performance during a transformation, of course, but 63 percent of successful M&S transformations balance team health with performance. Morale can flag and transformations run out of steam, especially when it can take more than a quarter or two to put numbers on the books. So it’s crucial to have a balanced scorecard that measures both performance (e.g. How have we generated more revenue?) and health (e.g. Are people building their capabilities?) to track how everyone involved is doing. When signs of flagging surface, you need intervene quickly with more training, for example, or  better progress communications.
4. CEO: Step up and step in. Yes, change starts at the top. But for an M&S transformation, the CEO has to really step up to make it happen because M&S often lacks the support across the organization. We’ve seen two areas where the CEO can really help: i) being intimately involved in both planning and process. For example, the CEO of one industrial company demanded the project have discrete, measurable, carefully-sequenced initiatives so that sales could “ring the cash register” quickly to win over skeptics within the organization; ii). acting as a “Communicator-in-Chief.” The CEO/ needs to use simple, clear language to inform the organization about goals, successes, and progress. This is much more than sending the occasional email. CEOs need to consider, for example, regular internal webcasts, internal blogging, and visiting local offices to talk with leadership and employees.
5. Promote trickle-down leadership. More than 60 percent of our survey respondents said that having committed change leaders across the organization was ‘extremely important’ to the transformation effort. Companies that succeed install strong change leaders who lead by example,  help people maintain their energy and focus, and constantly measure progress. They also celebrate wins, evangelize the transformation, and reward and promote people who successfully build new capabilities.
While these five lessons are critical to make an M&S transformation succeed, the actual design of the program has must take into account specific needs of the company, such as short-term financial impact. With customer behaviors and technologies changing rapidly, M&S transformation is not so much a choice as a necessity. When done well, it can drive significant growth.

Monday, October 22, 2012

7 Ways to Network Better

1) Don’t interrupt. This takes a great deal of patience in my experience. When you see someone to whom you would like to be introduced, take note of their body language. If they are in a group of three or more and standing, by all means, go up to the group, stand quietly and slightly back and wait to be acknowledged. Once you are, introduce yourself, ask if they (and other parties to be polite) have a few minutes later to chat. If they are speaking one on one in a private room or sitting down, wait for another opportunity.
2) Focus on their work… People love to talk about what they do or themselves. Usually those at a professional conference have some impetus to speak about their product or service and you should ask. Not only does this make them happier to talk to you but it makes you a better informed networked  Also, you should want to know what’s going on.
3) …as a way to eventually talk about your own. Networking does you no good if you don’t have a succinct and interesting way to talk about how you fit into the picture. If you’re anything like me, you might stumble over your words a few times, so as silly as it sounds, practice. Learn how to explain what you do and why it’s important to at least three audiences (in under 30 seconds).
4) Talk to the vendors or sponsors. This is probably the most overlooked networking idea… ever. It might surprise you but the vendors and sponsors of networking events and conferences have done this many times before, they've been to loads of sessions and talked to your counterparts all over the country, either face to face or during implementations and service calls. So, they know a lot. Talking to vendors can yield a ton of information and they are literally there to speak to you.
5) Go to the dinners and not the parties. I ignore this one because I have the attention span of a gnat, but you shouldn't  The intimacy and conversation that comes from a dinner far outweighs the crazy shenanigans that comes with the parties. But if you have the energy and the bandwidth, go to both.
6) Stay comfortable. Or as comfortable as possible in networking attire (ties, heels et c . If you want to have a conversation longer than 5 minutes, always be the one to suggest that you and your companion(s) sit down. I guarantee they’ll take you up on it and then you can all focus on doing some business rather than how much your feet hurt.
7) Be friendly. I used to wait for people to come up to me at networking events because I didn't want to bother them and then I realized that almost everyone feels the same way. A smile and a warm approach go a long way toward making new networkers and conference goers feel welcome and (I don’t care if this sounds corny) makes a first impression that people really do remember, for years.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

3 Ways To Lead A Creative Life

1) Live with awareness. There was a resounding consensus that inspiration is in everything and everywhere. Some of the artists I talked to draw their inspiration from contemplating nature, some from reading history books or reminiscing about their childhood, while others from observing and playing with architectural designs, shapes, and colors. The bottom-line: creativity does not happen in a vacuum. Picasso, for example, is known to have drawn inspiration for his Young Ladies of Avignon from roaming the hallways of the Ethnographic Museum of the Trocadéro.
2) Make space for your unconscious mind.Artists pointed out that they can best tune into their creative spirit when their critical, conscious mind is at rest. Some achieve that by meditation, some by hiking, while others by drinking a glass of wine or listening to music. The connection between our unconscious mind and creativity has been vastly supported by research, which found that we are most creative during our ‘non-optimal’ time of day (i.e. evening for morning people and morning for evening people), when we are more inclined to see unlikely connections; or when we distract our conscious mind with puzzles and other mentally challenging activities, thus making room for our unconscious mind. The old adage, “sleep on it” can in fact do wonders.
3) Exercise the creative muscle. Most artists agreed that just like any other skill, great creativity comes with practice. Of the artists I met, many admitted they often started with one idea and end up with a totally different one. Creativity is not just a spark of genius; creativity is also a process. So why wait, start today! You may be surprised with the outcome.
Linda Peia  has worked with Ashoka in Mexico, Brazil, and currently D.C. An economist by training, she loves to explore the intersection between behavioral economics, neuroscience, and entrepreneurship.