The secret sauce to become more creative (TEDx talks)

This is the transcript of a talk by Stephen Hall about ‘how to come up with good ideas and the secret to creativity’. For the French speakers, please note the video contains French subtitles.

Furthermore, I have also added bits and pieces from another Tedx talk by Mark Rober, a YouTuber and former NASA Engineer turned Inventor/Entrepreneur. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from BYU and Masters from USC. Additionally, he worked at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for 9 years, 7 of which were spent working on the Curiosity Rover which is now on Mars.

About STEPHEN HALL

Stephen Hall has spent his entire life being creative. It’s not just personality that makes him creative, it’s deliberate practice, process and often a straight-up discipline. Come inside the mind of a Creative Director and find how you can be more creative in your life and where the world needs your ideas.

Stephen spent 13 years in the Science Centre community designing exhibits and programs for the Ontario and the Saskatchewan Science Centre; 18 years as a television director creating TV shows for CBC, HGTV and the W Network; and six years as a creative director at Brown Communications Group in Regina. His current clients include SaskPower and Saskatchewan Health. Stephen’s professional passions are evenly divided between design and storytelling. He is fascinated by the creative process and is a compulsive storyteller.

TALKS TRANSCRIPTS

1. Define the constraints

Before you start engaging in solving the problem, you need to define the parameters of that problem. What have you got to solve it? What is available? Which resources? What time?

That’s difficult to see but that’s Apolo 13.

Apollo 13

45 years ago, they faced a problem that was caused by an unexpected explosion on the way to the moon. It created a lot of problems. The biggest one was that the CO2 level inside the capsule began to increase. It made the air they were breathing more and more poisonous.

Consequently, they needed it to figure that problem out. In order to figure it out, they had to think inside the box.

Think inside the box

Indeed, they had to define what was inside that capsule available to solve the problem. There was no help thinking about what was outside the capsule or box. The first thing to do is to define the constraints. I would say trying to solve the problem without constraints is a bit like playing squash with no walls. It just doesn’t work.

2. Provoke ideas and be curious

However, ideas don’t just happen. They need to be provoked, made happen.

a) Be curious

The first step to being more creative is to be curious and act upon your curiosity. If you think about most creative groups of people on earth, I think it’s probably children. That’s amazing with children because they are always questioning, looking, observing and making connections about the world around them.

b) Newton’ s first law of motion

Now, I’m going to talk about science with Newton’s first law.

The first law of motion

What does it mean?

It means that this chair that’s been sitting here since the start of my talk, will stay there until acted upon by an external balanced force. Simple enough. Forces at play now. There’s a core force of gravity down, of the floor going up and it’s a bounce force. It’s body unrest. It’s its habitual stay of this chair and an unbalanced force comes along to use it.

So, I’m going to mash up Newton and Georges Lois here and come up with what I’m calling ‘the first law of creativity’.

The first law of creativity

Likewise, I’d like to talk about:

unbalanced force = originality

An unbalanced force is an original idea.

Edward de Bono is the father of parallel thinking, a kind of creative guru.

How to come up with good creative ideas - Edward de Bono

He put a weird name on those unbalanced forces, He called them:How to come up with good ideas and the secret to creativity (TEDx talks)

He talks about ‘Po’ as extraction from words like:

How to come up with good ideas and the secret to creativity (TEDx talks)

How to come up with good ideas and the secret to creativity (TEDx talks)

How to come up with good ideas and the secret to creativity (TEDx talks)

How to come up with good ideas and the secret to creativity (TEDx talks)

These words give you a clue as to the nature of the word ‘Po’. It’s also an acronym.

How to come up with good ideas and the secret to creativity (TEDx talks)

That’s what I want because there’s an activity required. Creativity requires some actions in order to happen.

How to come up with good ideas and the secret to creativity (TEDx talks)

That’s the power of ‘Po’.

But, how does it work? Well, let’s do a quick brainstorming session. We’ve all been in a meeting room with a whiteboard.

Brainstorm a new restaurant

So, on the board, you may have heard there are a lot of places in Regina. There are lots of restaurants. What about authentic Mexican? Russian? Or Nepalese? Oh, wait a minute, what about a family-friendly fondue place?

What about higher-end burger place? What about low-end sushi place? Hmm, that doesn’t sound too good! A shout from the back of the room: how about a restaurant that doesn’t serve food? Boom. That’s a Po. A crazy idea that on the surface makes no sense whatsoever. Ok, so what do we do now?

3. Give absurd ideas respect

Well, you must give absurd ideas respect. You don’t toss about ideas. In order for that Po to be powerful, you need to let it breathe, let it live. A restaurant that doesn’t serve food, that doesn’t make sense. It’s easy to dismiss but it’s not, let it live.

a) The marshmallow challenge from Tom Wujec

The marshmallow challenge

What Tom Wujec does is he gives people a challenge with the above 4 items to use. He says ‘in 18 minutes I want you to build the tallest tower you can with the marshmallows on top.’ The fascinating thing about this is after he has done it a bunch of times, there’s one group that consistently beats CEOs, lawyers and businessmen. That group is kindergarteners.

Why? Adults look at the situation starting with the first few minutes as a power struggle, who’s going to be the leader. Once they figured out, they start building something. However, they don’t put any marshmallows until the last minutes at the very end. Marshmallows are acceptably heavy, and the whole structure crumbled.

Whereas kindergarteners, by contrast, they just start building right away without power struggles. Instead of putting marshmallows once, they put them 4 to 5 times. Since they were testing the structure early enough; they were able to get to a solution that actually works.

b) Apollo 13

Another example, in Apollo 13, they didn’t need another Po because the crisis was the Po. The crisis was what set out the circumstances that provoked them to have to be creative.

Apollo 13 flight plan

Moreover, no one would have thought of doing this in any other circumstances. The crisis, the Po, created that situation, which allowed us to consider those things in a new way, to see a creative potential and bring it together to solve a problem. They were up against time, they had deadlines that involved actual death.

Deadlines are another kind of Po

My favourite deadline is:

Apollo 13 deadline

 

JFK speech about sending a man to the moon

31st December 1969 is the deadline implied by JFK in a famous speech that they are going to put a man on the moon before the end of the 1960s.

Nonetheless, he didn’t manufacture a fake crisis but a real one. He put US reputation on the line and did so with optimism. That brings us to the 4th lesson.

4. Be optimistically positive

a) Be positive

Unquestionably, you need to look at how our problem might work, not how it might not work. You have to be hopeful and optimistic. That crazy idea you are going to give consideration that’s going to provoke new ideas, new thoughts can actually work.

b) Brainstorming

So, let’s get back to our creativity exercise, the new restaurant brainstorming.

Where will the food come from? Do they bring their own food? Maybe we serve drinks. We differentiate ourselves by offering a good selection of drinks. Maybe we could have a sharing table? Could we provide entertainment? What about providing the stage, a space to get together, to share?

 Besides, we wouldn’t have thought of that if we didn’t let that crazy idea exist and actually treat it with some optimism and hope. Some of the things we have discovered through that process can be useful when it comes to restaurants serving food. In terms of a brainstorming exercise and being able to open ourselves to all kinds of possibilities, it’s really useful.

Below is a mark-up of what NASA engineers built on the ground. They built it quickly, in order to test it. Of course, they ran off at the beginning when the crisis occurred. What do these guys have up there? They were believing it will work. They were optimistic.

Apollo 13 mark-up

There is no creative value in being cynical

Remember, there is no creative value in looking for the reasons why it won’t work. It’s far more productive, powerful when you think it will work. I can tell you as a creative person, I always think my creative ideas are going to work. I really do. All the time. It’s good to tap into that force.

5. Celebrate great ideas regardless of who had them

Even, a lot of work I do now is a collaborative work. One of the things I think about in collaborative work is really there’s not much point in working with people who are just like me. People think, act the same ways. It’s really great to have a mixed bag of different kinds of people bringing different perspectives and more creativity in the room.

The value of different perspectives

Inarguably, here’s a greater potential for the crazy ideas to come out. Now, we are going to unpack that idea and make it work. In this process, we must treat other people’s ideas with respect.

How to collaborate to come up with ideas

Below is a picture of the air filter the Apollo 13 crew built and that saved their lives. I didn’t think anyone cared whose idea it was to use these elements. The idea mattered, though.

Apollo 13 air filter

6. Work hard

For every design you see from Apple, for example, behind the scenes, there are like 40 devices’ prototypes that you have never seen. Thomas Edison came up with 10.000 light bolts before Tesla came up with one that worked. James Dyson had 5127 failed prototypes before he had a vacuum cleaner that actually sucked the dust.

Therefore, the point is, whatever you do, do it. If you like a scope, use a scope. Otherwise, if you paint, paint a ton and if you like photography, don’t say ‘ah, I’m not a creative photographer’. Just go out and take a ton of pictures. Fail and learn for basically what you are doing. By doing this, you discover that you get better.

Conclusion

Thus, part of the creative process is just putting in the time. This is a secret sauce to creativity, collaborative creativity.

We’ve got problems in the world that need our attention.

our planet CO2 increases dramatically

Finally, I think we should have a global brainstorming session. It involves a spacecraft that has humans on it. The CO2 level is rising. The level of CO2 is rising dramatically; we are running out of time. We need to solve the problem. Everything we need to solve the problem is right there. We just have to overcome our force of habit. We need to be creative and have new ideas.

Best idea wins

 

7 Hobbies to Strengthen Your Mental Resilience and Lead a happier Life

Mental resilience

A hobby can be great for your mental resilience and health. Hobbies can help people who feel a little bit down and stressed out. Learning a new hobby has tremendous value because it opens up a new outlet to release stress, and when it’s done with other people, it offers a practical way to interact with other people and build a social support system. Here are a few hobbies that can give you more mental strength.

7 Hobbies to Strengthen Your Mental Resilience

1. Poetry

According to The Atlantic, learning to write poetry not only offers a unique means for self-realisation and expression but also encourages the writer to carefully experiment with the structure and function of words. This can help develop a more creative and critical literary style. When trying your hand at poetry, don’t be afraid to let loose a little and get a little zany. Poetry isn’t meant to be perfect, so have fun with it.

2. Learning an instrument

One of the best ways to overcome barriers that might prevent you from learning to play is finding the right instructor who can give you guided and applied direction. The chance to play and practice around someone else can help a novice such as yourself become more invested in improving. It also offers important social opportunities to make a fantastic product with other people, so try learning an instrument with friends.

3. Gardening

Large meta-analyses have used careful critical review and statistical analysis to demonstrate that gardening can have positive benefits on mood, mental state, quality of life, fatigue and BMI. The effort that you put into gardening shows pretty clearly, and the rewards are very satisfying. You may think you don’t have a green thumb, but try starting off with some small plants that are easy to take care of and move up from there.

4. Drawing

Research on the connection between art and the brain shows that certain parts of the brain are more developed in the artist’s brains. Regardless of whether you consider yourself right brained or left brained, you can work on developing this fantastic hobby. Drawing is a new way to look at the world. You unlearn how you initially view objects and learn how to capture an object, a face, or a landscape. Anyone who can write can draw.

5. Cooking

Start simple and learn easy skills, like filleting meats and vegetables, prepare simple soups, or cook whole-grain pasta. This can give you a better idea for things you might want to experiment with, and it’s a great way to heat up your social life with your partner or friends. Try hosting potlucks with friends and show off your latest dishes and recipes. You can find a number of courses online that can help you cook what you want to cook, from baking and decorating wedding cakes to cooking Thai food.

6. Camping

Exposing yourself to nature is a great way to help with mental illness or addiction recovery. Getting into camping doesn’t have to be a complex experience that requires you to sleep in a remote backcountry. Practice camping in your own backyard or area. Learn to set up a tent and learn how to sleep comfortably in a sleeping bag. You can also learn to prepare foods that you can make while outdoors and experience a comfortable fire. Set up a hammock with friends and enjoy the night skies.

7. Learning a new language

Studies have indicated that learning a second language can improve executive cognitive function. It also helps you understand other people’s meaning or intent during social conversation since you have to learn visual cues and body language. Learning a new language introduces you to new cultures and people and widens your outlook on life. It can be tricky at first, but challenging yourself is good for your mind.

Hobbies can be good for people who are dealing with mental illness or are on the path to addiction recovery. They allow you to explore your own curiosities and develop new skills, which can give you confidence and more joy in life. Try on a few and see which ones work the best with your personality.

About the author:

Julie Morris – LIfe and Career Coach

Julie Morris thrives on helping others live their best lives. It’s easy for her to relate to clients who feel run over by life because she’s been there. After years in a successful (but unfulfilling) career in finance, Julie busted out of the corner office that had become her prison. Today, she is fulfilled by helping busy professionals like her past self get the clarity they need in order to live inspired lives that fill more than just their bank accounts. When Julie isn’t working with clients, she enjoys writing and is currently working on her first book. She also loves spending time outdoors and getting lost in a good book.

You can get in touch with her by email to: julie@juliemorris.org