How To Be Creative In Your Thinking

“Creativity Is Imagination and Imagination Is For Everyone.” Paul Arden

Image supplied by author

I believe for every problem or question we have, we also have the ability to find the solution and the answer within us, and to demonstrate this I’ll tell you a story about Jack.

Some years ago when Jack was just seven, his primary school decided they were going to form a school council with two representatives from each class. This was announced in the morning at school assembly, and the students were told that anyone who wanted to be considered would have an opportunity after lunch to speak in front of their class to be considered for nomination.

Jack relayed this to me at the end of the day when he told me he was among the candidates nominated from his class. I asked what he’d done, and what he’d said that resulted in his success at this initial stage. He said at lunch time he’d found himself a quiet corner in the playground, and thought through what he might say. But when he stood in front of his class and saw everyone staring at him, he froze and couldn’t remember what he was going to say. I asked what he did then, and he said: “Well I just started talking and I don’t remember what I said but at the end everyone clapped and I was nominated.”

He was on a high and went about developing his campaign strategy. Then one day when he came home from school he seemed quite subdued, and when I asked what was wrong, he said: “Today Owen (one of his opponents) brought cookies to school and gave one to anyone who promised to vote for him”. He asked his dad and me what he should do. We just looked at each other and wondered if we should perhaps go out and buy chocolate for Jack to give to his friends. We didn’t do this, nor did we have the answer to give Jack, and so he went about working on his campaign.

At the time Jack was into both The Simpsons and The Rugrats, and he made up stickers, leaflets, posters and banners saying ‘Vote for Jack’ using these animated characters. He had the whole family involved in his campaign. Jack took himself away from the immediate problem of how to compete against Owen and his cookies by busying himself with his campaign.

Then the morning of the election came, and when I dropped Jack at school I asked what he was going to say in his election speech. He said he didn’t know, but he was concerned that his classmates would vote for Owen because they would get another cookie.

I waited with bated breath all day, hoping he wouldn’t be too disappointed if he wasn’t successful. When I picked him up in the evening, I asked tentatively what happened. And Jack said “Oh yeah, I was elected”, in a no big deal sort of way. “But what did you say?” I asked.

Jack answered: “Well I stood up and everyone was staring at me, and I said, Owen has promised you cookies if you vote for him. These cookies will last a couple of minutes. I can promise to help make your dreams come true. These will last forever.” My god, Jack! I asked him where that had come from. “I don’t know,” he said, “it just came to me”.

Therein lies my belief that if we have a problem or a question that we think we don’t have the ability to cope with or the answer to, we actually do. Quite often the solution comes to us when we take ourselves away from the immediate problem or question, and busy ourselves with some- thing perhaps related to the issue — as Jack did by working on his campaign — or we may just need to distance ourselves from the issue. I find I have my most inspirational thoughts in the bath, or when I sleep on it, or when I go for a walk. The 3 Bs of creative thinking: Bath, Bed and Bus.

At the time Jack was successful in being elected to represent his class on the school council he loved Jackie Chan films and earned himself the nickname among his classmates as “Jackie Chan the first school council man”.

Develop a Practice of Insightful Self-Questioning Assignment

Insightful self-questioning unlocks your imagination, and helps you to explore your options and look at your possibilities. Probe your thought processes with questions that encourage creativity:

If it were possible, how would I do it?
 If I knew the answer, what would it be?

This story is one of the stories featured in my book: How To Be Creative In Your Thinking, from The School Of WorkLife Book Series.

The stories I write are based on real WorkLife challenges, obstacles and successes. In some stories I share my own experiences, and with permission stories of people I’ve worked with, whose names have been changed to protect their anonymity. Other persons and companies portrayed in the stories are not based on real people or entities.

Published by Carmel O' Reilly

Carmel O’ Reilly: WorkLife Learning Practitioner & Writer Author of WorkLife Book Club, Your WorkLife Your Way and The School of WorkLife book series. Created to help you manage your WorkLife Learning. Blogger & Podcaster: Telling people’s powerful stories about WorkLife challenges & successes Founder of My guiding statement is to help people pursue their WorkLives with greater clarity, passion, purpose and pride by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes that are accessible to everyone.