3 Creativity Tips …

Pencils“When I teach critical and creative thinking, I often get push-back from students who use some version of “I’m just not creative” to deny any ability to think differently than they are programmed.  

This makes me crazy … and presents a challenge to help them realize that everyone has some creative ability.  We just have to realize and claim it.  

Here are three suggestions to stir your creative juices, in no particular order, and without claim to be the most effective.  They just work for me …


Yes, black and white both count as colors – never mind the technical definition.  Move beyond the business colors (Black, Blue, Red, and Green) and experiment.  Make your notes in Purple or Brown, or even in Magenta:).

Try not to assign a code to the use of a color … just use whatever color you choose, find interesting, or that comes to hand when you reach for a pen.

You may not be any smarter for using colors, but you’ll have more fun taking notes in meetings. … and NO, it’s not the same when you electronically select a color for your font on your tablet, Ipad, or notebook.  I’m talking real, old-fashioned writing here.


I recently read a passage from a very old book, which included a description of a long-neglected attic.  The words “Cobwebs” and “Clutter” jumped out at me.

Right now, I have no idea what will come of these two words, but the sound of them together makes for an interesting title.   Cobwebs and Clutter” … you will see this again someday.

Words can spur our imagination.  Be aware of the words you see and read, and open your mind to new uses for them.

MEMORIZE A Shel Silverstein POEM …

You don’t have to WRITE poetry to be creative.  Just learn the words and say them out loud. Okay, you can memorize anyone’s poem, but I think Shel Silverstein is a great choice to stimulate your thinking.  

It is difficult to not include more inflection and dramatic flair when you are reading and saying “Where The Sidewalk Ends” or “One Sister For Sale“.   Here’s an easy one to start you off:

Oh, if you’re a bird, be an early bird 

And catch the worm for your breakfast plate.

If you’re a bird, be an early early bird—

But if you’re a worm, sleep late.

~Shel Silverstein

Shoot … you might even find some good learning as you go.  For example, the above little poem has some solid thinking about how our perspective changes based on our role.

These three suggestions are NOT the only or the best ways to be creative, but they usually work for me.

Trying to memorize “Sarah Sylvia Cythnia Stout“, who would not take the dishes out in the Heartland …


Who Do You Think About …

Cat 1I was thinking about you the other day …   

Writing …

I was writing a blog post about some subject and you popped into my head, unbidden and rather unexpectedly.   As I continued to write, I started to imagine your response to each sentence, every twist of logic, the seamless flow of my words.

Sometimes I am thinking about you and something you said or did gets my creative juices going.  Your presence in my head gives me an idea for a post and the words just start to flow.

I wonder if you ever read the words that you have inspired …

This happens more often when I am feeling very creative or have a particular passion around the topic.

Bemused …

I guess this is what you call a muse, but I don’t think about the same person every time.  My writing is very personalized.  

I am speaking directly to that person.  

Creativity …

Who do YOU think about when you create something?

Thinking about you as I type this in the Heartland ….


“Unlimited … My Future is Unlimited” …. Sort Of

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world”

Albert Einstein    Cosmic Religion : With Other Opinions and Aphorisms (1931) pg. 97    The quote continues, “…stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. It is, strictly speaking, a real factor in scientific research.”

Imagine, one of the world’s best known scientists, a person whose analytical skills are beyond compare, giving a “shout out” to creativity:)

Knowledge tells us what has been and what is.

Imagination tells us what might be … and that is a powerful thing.

We need both and either without the other provides only partial fodder for our deliberations and decisions.

The trick may be to tell the difference …

Sometimes we talk about a creative possibility as thought it were a discrete fact.  

Because we can imagine something, we might assume it is a done deal or merely something to be tangibly accomplished.  

Sometimes we confuse a promise about something or a desire for something with an accomplished deed or situation.  Politicians use this to win elections and to govern.

Real creativity has to allow for those thing which will never be.  Even if something cannot be, that image or concept can still fuel ample speculation and discovery of things that we might otherwise have never considered.

Sometimes we talk about a fact as though it were just someone’s opinion.

We are sometimes quick to dismiss ideas which come from people who we see as intellectually inferior.   This includes those who do not have the right education or degree, those who do not have appropriate titles or credentials, and those we just disagree with or flat-out do not like.

Much in our world is relatively new thinking, as the pace of scientific and technological growth seems to increase.  Things we always thought were true have been proven false.  This makes  a fellow a little gun-shy about taking a stand.

However,  we can always rely on the current level of knowledge.  After all, moving from what we know to what we learn is how progress occurs.  Nothing new or startling about that:)

BOTTOM LINE:  Don’t ignore either knowledge or imagination.  One makes you smart and the other makes you creative. 

Trying hard to be realistically creative in the Heartland ….


Looking Both Ways …

“Knowledge is realizing that the street is one-way, wisdom is looking both directions anyway.”

Anonymous (not me)

Astute observation about knowing things and understanding the world.  Several helpful life lessons here:

Because things are supposed to be one way does not mean they will always be that way.

We move through most of our days expecting things to work the way we understand and expect them to work.   The lights come on, the coffee perks, and the traffic moves … all according to plan.

Until something does not work the way it always has.

Ever stumble over something you did not expect to be where it actually was?  Ever have someone drive a car differently than they are supposed to?

Prudence is almost always okay, even when it is not needed.

Much is made of the need for initiative and rapid movement, especially in this online, 24/7, fast-moving world.  Careers are made and extinguished in the blink of an eye, as our basic assumptions are challenged and our preconceptions wiped out within a very short time frame.   

We do not have decades to change direction and we cannot put the hard decisions off until “tomorrow”.

This does not mean we are excused from due diligence and following that quintessential motherly advice to “Be careful.”

Looking both ways takes more time and may make you look like a cautious person and even silly to some.   Just think how you would appear as a flatly squished victim.

Rules are rules, but behavior is up to each individual.

Some of us (including me) are real into following rules.  We like the comfort of knowing where our boundaries are and how far our limits extend.  Those who ignore or violate the daily conventions, rules, and laws are looked down on as amoral or childish, while we take great pride in “doing what’s right”.

Of course, those lawbreakers may get all the good stuff, but we have our righteousness on which to fall back:)

Rules ARE important, but the reality is that not everyone follows the rules and at some point, everyone bends or breaks those societal expectations.

Maybe they drive the wrong way down the street or maybe they simply do something different than you expected.

Okay, this really is not about looking both ways on a one-way street, although I do this, I taught my children to do this, and am teaching my grandchildren to do so as well.   This is about realizing that knowledge is based on what we already know and that’s not enough to be successful in life.

You have to know enough to know when to go beyond what you know:)

Trying to figure out what I know and what I need to know in the Heartland ….


Imagine This!

“Imagination is a quality given a man to compensate him for what he is not, and a sense of humor was provided to console him for what he is.

Oscar Wilde

Now doesn’t this look like someone who appreciates a little imagination and a good sense of humor ….?

Interesting quote which manages to define and illustrate two concepts in less than thirty words.

Can you come up with a pithy, short, and accurate statement about even one concept or term?

Don’t ponder this one – just come up with something right now, off the top of your head.

Here’s mine:

Love is a condition which affects our physical well-being, emotional health, and cognitive competence … for better or for worse.

Okay, your turn:)

Waiting fairly patiently for inspirational and amusing statements in the Heartland ….