Tap into Your Inner-Kid for Big Ideas


Image by George Eastman House via Flickr

Kids really do say the funniest things. This week when looking at a man who is losing his hair, my 4-year old remarked, “That guy must be really smart. His brains are growing through his head.” (Hmm) Now, wouldn’t that be something?

His comment reminded me of a similar observation from my 7-year old when he was in preschool. He used to give us a really hard time about combing his hair. Finally, my husband figured out why. One day after combing his hair,  my son asked, “Is my hair gray now?”

My husband replied, “Why? Do you think because I comb my hair, and it is gray, that your hair will turn gray too?”

My son nodded, “Yes.”

Guess my kids have a thing about hair. In any event, when it comes to generating big ideas, tapping into your inner-kid improves your ability to think out of the box. As I mentioned in Why Adults Have a More Difficult Time being Creative than Children, kids have the unique ability to defer judgment. Their acceptance of things, adults may view as silly, opens the pathway for new thinking.

Let’s consider my 4-year old’s comment about hair loss and intelligence. Could there be a link between the two? It seems there may be an “underlying degree of truth.” Here’s the text from Wikipedia’s entry on Baldness:

“Intellectual activity or psychological problems can cause baldness.”

  • This notion may be because cholesterol is involved in the process of neurogenesis and also the base material from which the body ultimately manufactures DHT. While the notion that bald men are more intelligent may lack credibility in the modern world, in the ancient world if a person was bald it was likely that he had an adequate amount of fat in his diet. Thus, his mental development was probably not stunted by malnutrition during his crucial formative years, he was more likely to be wealthy, and also have had access to a formal education. However, a sedentary lifestyle is less likely to correlate with intelligence in the modern world, and dietary fat content is not linked to economic class in modern developed countries. Another possibility is that, for some people, social standing accrued through intelligence can in mating compensate for physical attractiveness lowered by hair loss and therefore produce male offspring who are prone to both high intellect and hair loss. However, by way of better socioeconomic standing and in turn more access to hair loss treatments, an association between intelligence and actual hair loss is less likely in recent times. Of course, aside from all these scientific reasons, baldness could be linked to intellect or wisdom simply because people go bald as they age and become more experienced and less intelligent people tend to die younger.

How about my 7-year old’s concern about combing gray into his hair? Silly? How about combing gray out of your hair?  The makers of boxed hair color are laughing their way to the bank!

So, what’s an adult to do? Here are 3 techniques to try:

  1. Think about ideas from the perspective of a preschooler. What would a 4-year old say?
  2. Invite a child, or adult who has childlike wonder, to help come up with ideas.
  3. Write down all the negative things about the idea you are considering. This allows you to get the negativity out of your mind and makes room for new thinking. Now, take the list of negative things about the idea and turn it into positives. What are other ways to think about the negative things that creates white space? For instance, take the idea of combing gray into your hair. By replacing “into your hair” with “out of your hair” you can change the whole concept.

Tapping into childlike wonder can lead to new, and bigger ideas!

Source for Wikipedia entry on baldness and intelligence:

^ Christiansen K (1993). “Sex hormone-related variations of cognitive performance in !Kung San hunter-gatherers of Namibia.”. Neuropsychobiology 27 (2): 97–107. doi:10.1159/000118961. PMID 8515835.

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