Friday, April 23, 2010

Learning from Einstein's Creativity by Ron White

One of the most famous quotes from Albert Einstein is, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” You see, Einstein placed incredible value on creativity. His theories and ideas were all about creativity. He made a toy car for his young son out of shoestring and some boxes—that was creativity. When he was down and out and needed money, he posted an ad for tutoring lessons—that was creativity in making money.

Since Einstein was one of the most accomplished and greatest thinkers of our time, an argument could be made that he was also one of the most creative people of all time. You can know more about your product than anyone and have more degrees than anyone you know, but if you don’t have a little bit of creativity to take advantage of what you do have, then it is useless.

Credentials and knowledge will do you little good if you lack the creativity to take advantage of them. Einstein once said, “The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.” I think he was being a little humble and a lot humorous here, but he was once again acknowledging the importance of being creative!

So you may ask yourself, “What is creativity?”

That is an excellent question. Let’s go straight to the source to answer it. Einstein said, “Creativity is seeing what others see and thinking what no one else has thought.”

Robert Kennedy said the same thing this way: “Some look at things that are and ask, why? I look at things that never were and ask, why not?” Robert Kennedy was talking about creativity, just as Einstein was.

So how do you do it? How do you model the creativity of Albert Einstein? First, we need to address the idea of the limiting belief that you are not creative.

There is a prevailing belief that creativity is an inborn trait—you are either creative or you’re not. Well, while creativity is an inborn trait, we are all born with a creative brain (your right cerebral hemisphere) and have many creative skills.

Children are naturally curious and eager to explore the world around them and spend hours playing with toys, making up imaginary friends and pretend games. But as we get older, we begin to lose some of our natural creativity as we learn and use more left-brain thinking skills in school and at work.

Research shows that our propensity to generate original ideas drops from 90% at age 5, to 20% at age 7, and even further to 2% as adults! However, unless you have suffered brain damage in your right hemisphere or had it surgically removed, you still have a creative brain; so you are still creative. It’s just that maybe you don’t use your creativity skills as much as you used to.
Now for the good news! You can reawaken your creative brainpower.

What would Einstein tell you in regard to increasing your creativity? Well, we don’t have to guess on that one, because he told us. He said, “The important thing is to not stop questioning.

Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”

Develop the curiosity of a child. Leonardo da Vinci, who is said to have been one of the greatest geniuses of all time, also had this creativity. I don’t think that it is a coincidence that Da Vinci and Einstein were both extremely creative and that so many years after their deaths we are still talking about them. Let me give you a few of Da Vinci’s credentials.

Five hundred years ago, Da Vinci:
- drew blue prints for the world’s first helicopter
- drew blueprints for a submarine
- built an extendable ladder whose design is still being used by fire departments today
- built the world’s first hydraulic jack
- built a rotating stage
- built a water-powered alarm clock!

Those are some pretty amazing credentials if you ask me.

While curiosity might have “killed the cat,” it can help you think like a genius. Leonardo da Vinci had a book of questions. In his journal he would write down questions as fast as they would pop into his head. He would write down questions such as:

Why do birds fly?Why do they slow down as they land?What do their feathers do?

The interesting thing is that he didn’t worry about the answers. He simply wrote down the questions because he knew something about the power of the human mind. He knew the subconscious mind was powerful and if he wrote down the questions his subconscious mind would continue to work on the answers.

Creativity is defined by Webster’s as “creative ability or intellectual inventiveness.” This is a skill that everyone has, to some extent. There are ways to improve your ability to create and generate new ideas. Not everyone can be a great artist or a creative genius, but it makes sense to make the most of the potential we are given.

Brainstorming is an extremely good way to practice creativity. A brainstorm can work with an individual or a group. This technique requires the generation of as many ideas as quickly as possible to solve a problem.

It does not matter how outlandish an idea might be. All ideas are written down. The ideas need to be written down, and a time limit should be imposed for accepting ideas. If this is a group brainstorm, an individual should be appointed as recorder to write down the ideas. If this is an individual project, the person should write as the thoughts come. Remember, the less judgment of ideas, the greater the number of ideas generated. Although many of the ideas may be unreasonable and ineffective, they may lead you to the idea that will really work. It is helpful to set a goal for the number of ideas you wish to generate. This will give you something to work toward, and may unleash the perfect solution.

Journal your thoughts for future use. This includes writing down dreams, insights, experiences, quotes, problems with friends, and any other information that is pertinent to you. This should have some kind of organization so you can look back on it periodically. You may find the answer to a problem in last month’s dream, so remember to review these personal logs frequently. This system will complement the complex subconscious mind, and allow you to retrieve from this boundless resource.

Allow your ideas to develop and follow through on them. It is said that a good idea is worth 50 cents, and the plan to implement that plan is worth millions of dollars. It has been said another way as well: Anyone who has ever taken a shower has had an idea. It is the man who gets out of the shower, dries off and does something about it who changes the world.

As you learn about creativity and the techniques that work best for you, a whole new world will open up to you. Creativity can be helpful in problem solving, dealing with people, and creating success in all areas of your life. Take the time to tap into your greatest power, the power of the imagination and increase your creativity in all areas of life.

Sometimes when we face a problem we struggle with our thoughts so much, our energy is spent. The stress that comes with this kind of problem solving also affects how we think. If the anxiety level becomes too high, parts of the brain will shut down and it is impossible to generate the ideas needed to deal with the problem. When faced with too much stress the mind goes into the “fight or flight” mode. This allows the mind to deal with only two alternatives: fighting the opponent or fleeing the danger.

You can avoid these mind-numbing emotions by altering your environment. When you feel yourself getting stressed out or you begin losing your focus, walk away from everything for a change of scenery. Allow yourself to focus on another task. Some people golf, juggle or exercise to get away from their mind blocks. When you return to this important task, you will have shifted from your stressed-out mindset to a new relaxed and ready-to-conquer attitude.

Blaise Pascal said, “Almost all of the problems of mankind arise from the inability to be alone with oneself in a room for any period of time.”

Getting away from the problem allows your subconscious mind to problem-solve, while your conscious mind is occupied with other things. Sometimes you will find the solution to your problem in your sleep. This is when the subconscious mind is most active. Basically, all your experiences and knowledge are stored in this part of the brain. This is where your creativity gets turbo-powered. If you can tap into this force, you will have creative powers beyond your wildest expectations.

Another good way to help your creativity is to read. That’s right, read. When you read, your subconscious mind is automatically creating pictures whether you like it or not. So develop a passion for reading and watch your creativity increase. Both Einstein and Da Vinci were avid readers. Model this behavior and watch your creativity increase.

Einstein said that he would simply imagine it so and then go about to prove it. In other words, the creative process occurred before the experiments.

Apply Albert Einstein's Visionary Genius to Your Own Life by Tony Alessandra

More than anyone else, Albert Einstein is the official poster boy for genius. When I ask people for names they associate with the idea of genius, Einstein was always in the top ten, and is usually the first. I’m sure your response is very similar. But how much do you know about what Einstein actually did?

You’ve heard about his theories of relativity, and you’ve probably seen his famous equation, E=mc2. But if you’re like most people, that’s about as far as your knowledge of Einstein actually goes. So right now, let’s take a look at some of Einstein’s major discoveries. At the same time, let’s see how they can translate into applications in your everyday life. Let’s see how you can connect with Einstein as a model of visionary genius, and use that model to reveal the visionary genius in yourself.

Einstein was born in 1879, in southern Germany. There are lots of true and unusual stories attributed to him. There are also many myths and misconceptions about him. You may have heard, for example, that Einstein, this great mathematical genius, flunked his math classes in grade school. It’s not true that he flunked his classes. Many of his strict and disciplinary teachers were simply too boring to tolerate, so he preferred walks in nature to dull lectures. He still managed to pass all their tests. Even in college he borrowed a friend’s notes rather than go to class. So while it’s not true that he ever flunked, he passed using some unconventional methods. His teachers did not appreciate this creativity. Years after graduating, Albert discovered the cost for that uniqueness. A bad recommendation from his advisor delayed his admission to graduate school.

You may also have heard that Einstein didn’t learn to speak until he was much older than the average child. This is true. Einstein didn’t speak until he was nearly 3 years old. Of course, it’s always possible that he knew how to speak but didn’t feel he had anything worth saying—at least not yet.

Einstein didn’t sweat the small stuff! There’s a story about Einstein when he was on the faculty of the Institute for Advanced Study, in Princeton, New Jersey. This was and still is the highest-powered and most prestigious intellectual environment in the world. One day Einstein was walking through the leafy streets near his home, and he encountered a fellow scholar. The two men chatted for a while, but as they were about to go their separate ways, Einstein had a final question: “When we met a moment ago, was I walking toward my house, or away from it?”
Einstein’s colleague was a little puzzled by this question, but he replied that in fact the great scientist had been walking away from his house. And Einstein seemed pleased to hear this. “That’s good,” he said. “It means I’ve already had my lunch.”

You see, Einstein liked to think big. Or maybe it was more than just liking it. Thinking big came naturally to him. This was a man who could map the distance across the universe on the back of a napkin with a pencil—things like lunch were trivial compared to that!

In 1905, Einstein published his theory of special relativity—at age 26. Einstein’s thought processes just kept widening our focus. He went from the special theory of relativity to the general theory. He kept thinking bigger and bigger, and he didn’t let too many things get in his way. He once said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” He also said, “If the facts don’t fit the theory, change the facts.”

Let’s think about that for a moment. Let’s acknowledge that it takes a very good theory and a lot of nerve to say something like that. But let’s also realize that when Albert Einstein talks about not bothering about the facts, it’s different than you or I not bothering to notice stop signs or red lights. In other words, the essence of visionary genius is that it’s visionary. It’s imaginative and creative, which has great value in its own right. Thinking big like a visionary genius is a great thing to do, even if you don’t come up with a practical application for your thoughts.

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