Stimulate Your Learning

American cartoonist and columnist Frank Tyger noted:

Discoveries are often made by not following instructions, by going off the main road, by trying the untried.”

Break your normal pattern

For example, if you normally read leadership books, try one on creativity for a change. Or try a biography. If you like to watch comedies, try a mystery. Get your mind thinking. We tend to fall into comfortable patterns and do things on automatic pilot. If you push yourself to do something different, you might be surprised at what you learn.

Try stimulating your learning in these ways:

  • Visit somewhere different: A gallery, museum or exhibition and ask questions. The answers can be odd, but interesting. I do this from time to time with my wife and I’m always challenged to think, what was life like for the people who made this? Why did the artist paint or construct the way he did? What can I learn from this?
  • Change where you go: Try plays, musicals, concerts or even a basketball game, any places you don’t normally go. There are always lessons to learn.
  • Take a walk in the bush: Get away from the bustle of business life and see things from an entirely new perspective.
  • Brainstorm ideas: With some creative friends - especially people who think differently to you.
  • Have a go at something totally new: Try painting, photography, sculpture, creative writing, cooking or garden design. They all require different thought processes that open you to learning new things.
  • Do something that challenges you: It might be car racing, sky diving or spear fishing.
  • Think & analyse: When you watch a movie e.g., analyse it afterwards and ask yourself, what part of this movie made me think? Was it the characters, action, setting or humor? Why?
  • Let your mind wander: After you read books and listen to messages or music. Jessica Masterson made this interesting statement:

    The next time your mind wanders, follow it around for a while.”

Try creative association

Part of the creative process is association. Thinking of as many things in the context of a particular product or task that relate to it. From this exercise, creative people develop scenarios for TV advertisements, scripts for radio and imagery for magazines and billboards. You can use this exercise too. Think through all the things that relate to a business problem, whether it has to do with a product, warehouse, staff or finances. Creative answers often can be found in this way.

Creativity is untidy and unnerving for some, but don’t give up on it. Stick it out. David Armistead said,

Those who wander are not necessarily lost.”

Peter Irvine
Peter is Co-Founder of Gloria Jean’s Coffees, author of ‘Win In Business’ and ‘Building your Business, your People, your Life’ and keynote speaker.

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