Five Techniques to Boost Your Creativity

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My best ideas come when I’m hiking solo near my home in the Santa Monica Mountains. Time in nature with no distractions allows ideas to come to me. At times, one or two nuggets of insight pop in, other times I must stop numerous times and write down a stream of ideas that come flooding through.

Have you ever racked your brain trying to think of someone’s name or a restaurant in a distant city and then start doing something else and the name pops in your head? When I’m working in my office or on an airplane, I often switch back and forth between tasks. When I switch to a different task, I get ideas about the other task and vice-versa.

Ludwig van Beethoven started every day with the same ritual: a morning walk during which he would scribble the first rough notes of whatever musical idea entered his head. That ritual limbered up his body and mind and got him into his creative zone.

Watch baseball pitchers and batters go through ritualistic movements before every pitch. John Kounios, a brain-sciences professor at Drexel Universality, says that an instant before an insight, people are less aware of their environment. He explains that the reason many people get ideas in the shower is because their eyes are mostly blocked from visual distractions.

During our character exercise in workshops, I notice that people tend to look up at the ceiling or down at the floor to unconsciously block visual stimuli when they are trying to answer a personal question.

What Would Leonardo Do?

Leonardo Da Vinci was a creative genius and a renaissance titan. Here are five of his many creative practices and characteristics:

  1. Be relentlessly curious (about everything you see): We can push ourselves to be curious every waking hour.
  1. Retain a childlike sense of wonder: Steve Martin once said remaining childlike is how we stay creative as we grow older.
  1. Notice everything: Observe everything in sight as you go about your day.
  1. Make lists: Leonard’s to-do lists are still studied by scholars today.
  1. Go down rabbit holes: Dive deep into issues and your passions.

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