Here's An Idea…

Ransom Stephens

Our thought process relies on pattern recognition, categorization and prediction, and we tend to search for pathways we have followed in the past. This “efficiency rut” can limit the flow of ideas. Here are 5 keys to unlocking your innate creativity, from cultivating a resilience to failure, to silencing our tendency to predict results.

A blank canvas. An empty music score. A newly opened Word document or electric circuit simulation. Trying to harness creativity at will haunts artists, scientists, technologists, and even bureaucrats.

How can we open our minds and wander into new, innovative territory?

Research shows that we're more equipped to let our creative juices flow as children than as adults. An examination of the way our brains function explains why the creativity quotient declines as we age: Think of the way that water erodes rock to form a channel that eventually carves a deep canyon. In the same way, when a neuron in our brain receives a signal, it’s tuned to process that signal and pass the result into channels that it recognizes.

Our thought process relies on pattern recognition, categorization and prediction, and, like water flowing into streams and tributaries, tends to search for pathways where it has flowed in the past. What starts out as a trickle eventually forms a rut — an efficient rut, to be sure — but one that makes us…

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