Steve Van Valin, CEO Culturology
We often think of the concept of brainstorming as an activity that takes place with other people. But what about those times when we have to be the sole catalyst of an idea? In reality, we spend far more time generating ideas on our own than when interacting with others. Let’s call this solo ideation time “self-storming.” Learning to self-storm is essential for tapping into your inner creativity.
Noticing Your Notions
Self-storming is the process of activating the voice inside your head – the voice that speaks to you in that mysterious and rapid-fire language of internal thought. The easiest way to activate the voice is to focus intensely on your creative challenge, and then “let it go” and literally forget about it. Our sub-conscious will take over, begin the work of making connections, and then surface something incredible. I call these initial subconscious connections “notions.”
Sorting Your Mental Mail
Incomplete thoughts or “notions” typically appear in our consciousness as a fleeting glimpse of something bigger. We have the capacity to view notions one at a time in the same way we quickly sort through a stack of mail. We rapidly process notions and sort them into piles. Most notions are immediately discarded as “junk mail.” Some are put aside in the “review later” pile. And a precious few grab our attention as “must open immediately!” These are the notions worth investing in with a higher level of conscious energy.
The Difference-Maker in Creative Competence
In many ways, our creative competence is defined by the savvy choices we make to open the “must open” notions. If we explore these notions with curiosity, it allows us to play with them long enough in our mind to craft together a potential idea. All of this takes place in just a few split seconds. Because it happens so fast, it’s vital to immediately write down the notion before losing it. Overall, this crucial choice determines whether we become uncreative bores or creative juggernauts.
The Secret to Self-Storming
If you are aware of the phenomenon of self-storming and actually enjoy it, then you are probably generating great ideas on a consistent basis. If given the quiet time to think up new ideas, would you look forward to it? Would you even view it as work?
There are, on the other hand, those individuals who ignore their internal voice. Even if acknowledged, they don’t entertain the voice for very long. Ironically, they label themselves as “not creative.” Sadly, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. They never choose to open their “must-read” mail for some reason.
Awareness Gives You Choices
Creativity isn’t something you can force upon yourself. Ironically, the harder you try, the harder it is to have a creative breakthrough. You have to instead recognize that patience is required to sort through a large stack of mental mail and find the items worth opening. You need to make the proactive effort to open your mental mailbox time and time again to begin tapping into your inner creativity. Who would have imagined that going postal had a positive creative connotation?
Set aside some time and start tapping into your inner creativity this week.