The Link Between Relaxation and Creativity

Experience Shower - Waterfall Spa

Image by Grand Velas Riviera Maya via Flickr

Studies show stress is not a good breeding ground for creativity. This week I’ve been stumped for ideas. When I first started this blog, I set a goal for posting 5 times a week. I’ve found writing has been a great way to tap into productively finding an outlet for the ideas that roam the recesses of my mind. However, this week I’ve felt stretched. There’s been a ton going on between work and home. Throughout the week I kept thinking, ‘I know there’s a blog post somewhere, but I can’t get it out.’

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Innovation and Breaking Rules

Pats_Wall

Image by Zeptonn via Flickr

A few years back, I brought my son to work with me. I was technically supposed to be out of the office for a vacation day, but had a couple of loose ends to tie up. I figured my 5-year old would enjoy a trip to the office. Our office had a Wii and lots of office supplies to keep him busy. After beating one of my colleagues at Wii bowling and telling my manager he didn’t like meetings, my son jumped into our last meeting.

We sat in a small, windowless room with a conference table that was too big and too many chairs to comfortably navigate around. One of the better features of the room were the freshly painted, cream-colored walls. As I looked around for items that might occupy my son, I saw giant flip chart paper and markers. I thought, “Wow, he’s going to love drawing larger than life.” I proceeded to tape 4 pieces of poster sized paper to the wall and gave him a set of markers.

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Self-Coach Yourself to Creativity

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Image by Alexandre Dulaunoy via Flickr

Emotions play a big role in creativity. Keeping a positive mindset helps to unlock creative energies. While some tension always exists with creative endeavors, too much stress becomes unproductive. Understanding why you are feeling stressed is the first step to self-coaching yourself to creativity.

There are times in my life where  I’ve felt a great deal of tension (and not the productive kind). To dig into why I was feeling stressed, I stepped up my curiosity. I began asking myself what I want that I do not currently have. As renowned coaches Janeen Whalen and Newell Eaton taught me, coaching puts a “container” around the chaos in order to help process what is happening.

What I soon realized was that my values were not being honored to the degree I wished them to be. Values are each of our “imprints” on the world. The more congruent our values are with the situation we are in, the more energy we have. When we lose energy, it is typically because we are operating outside of our values.

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Creative Ways to Teach Math, Part 2

DSC_5837 - Dragon Fire

Image by archer10 (Dennis) via Flickr

A few weeks ago I shared tips on how to creatively teach skip counting. Since then, readers have asked for more ways to teach math and logic. Here’s one for you from the “way back” machine. Why way back? Well, the tips I share are from a bedtime routine my husband started when our oldest son was about three. Fast-forward…and 2006 seems like eons ago!

Each night before my son went to bed, my husband would make up a bedtime story. The story was based on a little boy (my son) who had to find three crystals in order to escape the precarious situations he had gotten into. In order to obtain the crystals, the little boy had to solve challenges. These challenges involved word problems, logic and math.

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Visible Signs of Creativity

I was on a flight from Logan Airport a few days after the Boston Marathon. And before you ask – no I didn’t run. When I was at the airport, I was struck by how many people were wearing their official Boston Marathon jackets. The airport was awash with proud runners waiting for flights to head home. I started thinking. These runners are part of a club – a club that is identified by adidas windbreakers. If a jacket can make it apparent that a person ran the Boston Marathon, what are the markings of a creative tribe?

To me, you can tell when you’ve found a creative tribe by observing how they work together. Some telling signs of a creative tribe include:

Drawing as a Skill for Creative Leadership

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For many years I have wanted to capture the images I see in my mind in enough detail so that those around me could understand them. I am a visual thinker and connect images mentally, however, I am unable to present them physically.  In 2010, I attended the CPSI conference and joined Jon Pearson’s Draw Power. At a minimum, I expected he would be able to help me capture the vivid pictures in my mind onto paper. I envisioned myself becoming adept at taking the realistic images in my mind and capturing them in a recognizable format for all to see and understand. Well, I was wrong – in a good way

Fortunately, Jon had something even greater in store. Through exercises in scribbling and doodling, Jon helped participants connect visual images and verbal descriptions using our hearts rather than our minds. At first, this was awkward. To draw without thinking took a great deal of effort. But because we only had a few seconds per drawing, disconnecting my mind from my body became easier. After leading us in a quick doodle, Jon asked us to articulate what the image said about us. Interestingly, a few stray marks on a page quickly turned into my description, ‘I am a tenacious person and all of these dots on the page represent the number of angles I take to solve a challenge.’ The Draw Power session helped me understand a picture really is worth a thousand words.

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Is Creativity like Eating a Balanced Meal?

Pottery Factory

Image by usr.c via Flickr

For the past 15 years I have worked in a world made up of web sites, social media, online advertising, and other virtual experiences. This week at work I began craving the creation of physical things. As I left work on Friday, I was ready to roll up my sleeves and get my hands dirty…cooking, making pottery, designing draperies, painting walls.  You name it – I was ready. In speaking with my co-workers, they felt the same way. It seems when you’re continually creating in one realm, it can cause you to crave creativity in other realms.

I started thinking about how creativity is like eating a balance meal. While it may be healthy to eat just steamed vegetables, mixing in some grains, fruits, and beans adds texture and interest. Perhaps creativity is, in fact, like eating a balanced meal. While you may prefer one food group over another, it is a varied and colorful diet that provides the most sustenance.

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How to Evaluate Creative Work

High on the Happy Side

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I work in a creative industry. In many ways, advertising and  marketing serves as a pinnacle of creativity. Each and every day folks within the ad agency world develop creative work. Whether digital experiences, web sites, online advertising, social media campaigns, television commercials, radio spots or inventive outdoor installations, there is no lack of creativity. With all these creative works, the question becomes what criteria should we use to evaluate them? It isn’t a question many folks stop to ask. In fact, evaluating creative work is often very subjective.

Here are a few tips for taking the subjectivity out of the evaluation and fairly critiquing creative work:

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The Role of Grandparents in Nurturing Creativity

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Growing up, my grandparents lived with us. I spent most of my first 18 years under their tutelage. I still fondly remember my grandfather helping me learn math by cutting the bottom off a Twinkies box and writing down the multiplication table. I also remember my grandmother spending endless hours teaching me to sew, playing Othello, and showing me how to pick beans from the garden.

Fast-forward many years, and now I have children of my own. I always hoped my sons would have the same relationship with their grandparents as I did with mine. I am elated to share, they definitely do…and then some! My boys are fortunate to have grandparents who love spending time with them and who give the most precious gifts of time and patience. Papa, Nana, and Grandma nurture the boys in another way too. They inspire my boys to tap into their creativity and to use their imaginations!

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Turning Rock-Paper-Scissors into a Divergent Thinking Game

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When I was a kid, we used to play a game called Rock-Paper-Scissors. The game is also known as Stone-Paper-Scissors in the UK, or kauwi-bauwi-bo in Korean. Turns out, it is a universal game. To play, opponents say, “Rock-Paper-Scissors, shoot.” Upon saying shoot, each player uses his hand to imitate the shape of a rock (clenched fist), paper (open hand), or scissors (two fingers extended in a cutting motion). The object of the game is to select a gesture that beats your opponent – rock beats scissors, scissors beats paper and paper beats rock.

Rock-Paper-Scissors is popular with elementary school kids. In fact, my boys were so excited by Rock-Paper-Scissors they couldn’t wait to show my husband and I. One day while eating dinner, the boys decided to teach us how to play. They began, “Rock-Paper-Scissors, shoot.” One said, “rock” while clenching his fist. My other son said, “paper” while holding his hand open like a stop sign. Then, my husband jumped into the fun helped turn Rock-Paper-Scissors into a game of divergent thinking. Rock-paper-scissors became:

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