What drives creativity?

Imagine if you could turn on creativity like starting a car, rev the engine to get up to speed, cruise along in the fast lane, and then park it in the garage until you needed it again. Is there anything you couldn’t accomplish?
We’ve all had days when the engine stalls, the tire is flat or road construction brings traffic to a screeching halt. Nothing seems to get us going.
You can’t always sit around and wait for inspiration to strike. Amateurs wait for inspiration. The real pros get up and go to work. They understand that you are not born with creativity … and you have to cultivate creativity on an ongoing basis. Here are some ideas:
• Keep a journal. Record ideas as soon as they come to you by keeping a notebook close at hand all the time. A real notebook, not a digital one, is best, allowing you to make sketches and drawings, but anything that lets you capture your thoughts will work. When you need to charge up your creativity, search your notebook for ideas and examples.
• Search your environment for inspiration. Artists find inspiration in many unlikely places. If looking at the same four walls every day limits your perspective, add some elements that help you see things in a new way — pictures, plants, books, even toys.
• Question everything. Ask “why” and “how” to determine if there’s a better way to solve a problem. Another favorite question of mine: “What’s missing?”
• Turn problems around. Switch gears by looking for the opposite of what you want. Exploring how you could make a bad situation worse can sometimes tell you what not to do. Looking for a bad idea may lead you to a good one.
• Combine random elements. Try this exercise: Look at two items on your desk right now and figure out a way to put them together. A clock radio and a coffee mug, for instance, could be turned into a coffee mug with a clock on it, maybe at the bottom. This won’t necessarily generate a useful idea, but it will train your mind to see different possibilities.
• Recruit a partner. Bounce ideas off another person–someone you’re comfortable with, but someone who will challenge you when necessary. With another person involved, you’re not limited to your own experience and perspective.
• Read something totally different than usual. Too often, we find ourselves looking at the same newspapers, trade publications, blogs and the like. Pick up a murder mystery, a gardening book, a Shakespeare volume or anything that will teach you something you didn’t know anything about.
• Tolerate failure. Expect to make some mistakes when you try new and different approaches. Sometimes colossal failures lead to spectacular successes.
• Listen to your “inner child.” Ever notice how kids are unafraid to take gigantic risks or make outlandish statements when confronted with a problem? They haven’t been trained yet to take the safe approach. Even if their ideas aren’t fully developed, their dreams are big enough to take chances.
• Relax your mind. Give your subconscious a chance to work by turning your brain off from time to time. Don’t focus on work or solving problems constantly. Take time to exercise and relax, and give yourself permission to think about other things. A tired mind won’t generate fresh ideas.
Many good ideas have been discovered because someone poked around in an outside industry or discipline, and applied what he found to his own field. For example, football coach Knute Rockne got the idea for his “four horsemen” backfield shift while watching a burlesque chorus routine. Dan Bricklin took the “spreadsheet” concept from accounting and turned it into VisiCalc, the program that helped create the microcomputer software industry. World War I military designers borrowed from the cubist art of Picasso and Braque to create more effective camouflage patterns for tanks and guns.
Certainly no one would question Pablo Picasso’s creativity, and much of his inspiration came from his mother at a young age. According to the artist, “My mother said to me, ‘If you become a soldier, you’ll become a general. If you become a monk you’ll end up as the Pope.’ Instead, I became an artist and wound up as Picasso.”
Mackay’s Moral: To get what you’ve never had, you must do what you’ve never done.

Reprinted with permission from nationally syndicated columnist Harvey Mackay, author of the New York Times #1 bestseller “Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive.”

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Uncommon leadership has common traits

A lot of people think leaders are born and not made. I disagree. I think you can become a better leader. I’m not a cook, but I’ve held many leadership positions. I thought this recipe for a leader sounded pretty good:

Have all ingredients at body temperature. Sift intelligence, ambition, and understanding together. Mix cooperation, initiative, and open-mindedness until dissolved. Add gradually ability, tactfulness and responsibility. Stir in positive attitude and judgment. Beat in patience until smooth. Blend all ingredients well. Sprinkle liberally with cheerfulness and bake in oven of determination. When absorbed thoroughly, cool and spread with kindness and common sense.

If that seems like a long list of ingredients, well, it is. But good leadership won’t happen if any of those items are missing.

I love to study leaders and the different ways they lead. If there ever was a need for great leadership in a company, that time is now. Taking an organization through a good economy is tough enough; when the going gets rough, the real leaders shine. Consider the challenges that faced these leaders.

The military presents many opportunities to observe leaders in action. For example, President and General Dwight Eisenhower used a simple device to illustrate the art of leadership. Laying an ordinary piece of string on a table, he’d illustrate how you could easily pull it in any direction. “However, try and push it,” he cautioned, “and it won’t go anywhere. It’s just that way when it comes to leading people.”

The Duke of Wellington, the British military leader who defeated Napoleon at Waterloo, was a great commander but a difficult man to serve under. He was a perfectionist and very demanding, who complimented his subordinates only on rare occasions. In retirement, Wellington was asked by a visitor what he would do differently if he had his life to live over again. The old Duke thought for a moment and then said, “I’d give people I worked with more praise.”

The famous general and Macedonian king Alexander the Great led by example. As he led an army across the desert, a soldier came up to him, knelt down, and offered him a helmet filled with precious water. “Is there enough there for 10,000 men?” asked Alexander. When the soldier shook his head, Alexander poured the water out on the desert sands, refusing to take even a sip.

My friend Marilyn Carlson Nelson, Chairman of Carlson, wrote in her book How We Lead Matters, “The fact is that being a leader in any field requires discipline, effort, and yes, sacrifice. It can be all-consuming. And during that time, life may not have much balance. It’s been said, ‘If you can’t ride two horses at the same time, you should get out of the circus.’ A circus is not at all a bad analogy for the swirl of demands placed on leaders at the top.”

Leaders are not always popular. Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell wrote in his book, My American Journey, “I learned … you cannot let the mission suffer, or make the majority pay to spare the feelings of an individual. I kept a saying under the glass of my desk at the Pentagon that made the point succinctly if inelegantly: ‘Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off.'”

Ken Blanchard once told me, “The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.”

“A business leader has to keep their organization focused on the mission,” says Meg Whitman, former CEO of Ebay. “That sounds easy, but it can be tremendously challenging in today’s competitive and ever-changing business environment. A leader also has to motivate potential partners to join.”

Leadership guru Warren Bennis spent several years researching leaders for his book “Why Leaders Can’t Lead.” He traveled around the country spending time with 90 of the most effective and successful leaders in the nation—60 from corporations and 30 from the public sector. His goal was to find these leaders’ common traits. At first, he had trouble pinpointing any common traits, for the leaders were more diverse than he had expected.

But he later wrote: “I was finally able to come to conclusions, of which perhaps the most important is the distinction between leaders and managers. Leaders are people who do the right thing; managers are people who do things right. Both roles are crucial, but they differ profoundly. I often observe people in top positions doing the wrong thing well.”

Mackay’s Moral: Good leaders inspire others with confidence in them. Great leaders inspire them with confidence in themselves.

Reprinted with permission from nationally syndicated columnist Harvey Mackay, author of the New York Times #1 bestseller “Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive.”

Welcome to Sedona Teachings on Prosperity and Manifesting Destiny

Cathedral Rocks in Sedona

Cathedral Rocks in Sedona

Sedona Teachings is the website for metaphysical speaker Gerrie Sidwell.

She is currently teaching workshops in Sedona. Her mission is to empower people to make changes in their lives.

Her unique workshop is designed to help people identify their desires and take the steps necessary to manifest them in their lives.

“What you think about expands. If your thoughts are centered on what’s missing, then what’s missing will have to expand. Nothing you imagine in your mind is impossible.

-Dr. Wayne Dyer