Friday, February 16, 2007

The Secret, a big YES + AND

The Secret – Yes, And, you need more to achieve your dreams
Than the Law of Attraction

The Secret is a book written by Rhonda Byrne. It’s a media darling of the moment having just been featured on Oprah, with a follow up planned. The book is stacked to the ceilings at bookstores around the country; it’s going to be a best seller. The Secret is about the Law of Attraction, and the book, mostly, is anecdotes about how well this Law of the Universe works, with some guiding principles. It’s an inspiring book. And it is not always enough, you need more than the Law of Attraction to achieve your hopes and dreams.

I believe in the Law of Attraction -- I think that this book is “true.” And I don’t want to pour cold water on people’s dreams, far from it, my dream is one of empowerment as well and I wish The Secret and it’s readers’ big success.

I fear, however, that The Secret does not go far enough with empowerment tools. It doesn’t tell you How, specifically, to achieve your dreams. It says, mostly, that you only need to wish for it, think about it, and visualize it. Wishing and visualization are good -- and the Law of Attraction is so powerful that sometimes people achieve results just by “putting it out there.” But for every success story of the boy who wished for no lines at Disney world and the dream came true, there are 500 other little boys who wished the same thing and it Did Not come true. The Secret only tells us the good things that happen and doesn’t say that a person can wish for something with all their heart and soul and still have that dream remain unfulfilled. What, they weren’t doing it right?

The Secret can lead to heartbreak -- the exact opposite intention of what Rhonda Byrne wishes for. People need more than The Secret, they need specific tools and techniques for achieving their dreams, they need Deliberate Creativity.

I think people should go ahead and read The Secret. Then they should also learn deliberate creative process, including these three key techniques:

1. How to Explore dreams with more than just visualizations and wishes. It’s a great start, but dreams and wishes become reality not just by the magic of “the universe” but also by good old-fashioned research. Some really wonderful magic happens when you pick up a book, do a Google search, or, God forbid, pick up the phone and make some phone calls. Further, people need to be really clear what it is they are after doing, they need to Frame the Challenge. A vague wish or dream is hard to achieve isn’t it? A specific one brings a wish into the world of reality.
2. How to Generate hundreds of ideas that solve problems and achieve wishes and dreams -- and not just wait for magic to happen. Magic happens when you use the Law of Attraction to Have A Lot of Ideas. The first idea that pops into your head is rarely the best one for what you are after doing. The best ideas, the breakthrough ones, happen when you keep asking your mind to give you answers. Eventually the right on will come, but only if you keep after it and make a long list. The Law of Attraction is best coupled with the principle of Quantity of Ideas. Together, they are powerful.
3. How to Take Action Steps that are exciting to you and others. Some of our best ideas for achieving our dreams and wishes are stopped cold by the response they get from other people. Or, from our own lack of action. The Secret only works when people DO SOMETHING.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Creativity and Love

I've been reading a business fable by Steve Farber lately, it's called the The Radical Leap, a personal lesson in extreme leadership. It's an interesting book and what resonates with me in particular is the whole idea of love being a central aspect of effective leadership. It's been politically incorrect to talk about love in a business context as far back as I can remember and I really admire Steve for making the case for it. I believe, as Steve does, that love is essential to leadership, and that it helps create transcendent businesses.

I want to take the case for love into the world of creative thinking. I want to state for the record the simple idea that love enables creativity. It enables it in yourself and it enables it in others.

If you want innovation, you need creativity. If you want to stimulate creativity, in yourself and in others, you need love.

Here's my logic to support the statement. Creative thought happens best when we are feeling light hearted, curious, and when we have an open mind to possibilities and options. Brain research indicates that creative thought is a higher order of thinking than logical/rational thought.

That space, that state of mind where wonderful ideas happen, is not such an easy place to get to. The harder we try the more elusive it becomes, when faced with the fear of a difficult challenge, it often feels impossible to get into that creative head-space.

DeBono says we cannot come up with a fresh idea through logic alone. A challenge is in our head, and then a solution spontaneously occurs to us. When we think more about it the logic becomes apparent. It's logical in retrospect.

As an improvisor I know that when I "think" in a scene all is lost. The scene has already gone by me and what I think of as clever comes across as inauthentic to the audience. On the other hand, when I simply "do" and react to others in a scene without thinking, spontaneous things happen. I'm with the flow of the scene and ideas just pop out.

Okay, here's the love connection.

When we experience love, from others, or even better, within ourself, it can put us into a secure place. It's a thinking step up from fear and panic. From that secure place we can in a relaxed way ask our mind for ideas to answer the challenge or problem in front of us. We begin to play with ideas. So, from love we remove fear and reduce anxiety, we step up into a higher order of thinking about everything, we open the doors to allow our subconscious to suggest ideas to us. With love in our hearts and love for what we are thinking about we're motivated, we're unblocked and good ideas are likely to happen for us.

The Beatles were right. All we need is love.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Assessing the Creative Candidate...a daunting task

It's two years until the US Presidential election and already we have 16 candidates out there beating the bushes for money and primary votes. As a Creativity and Innovation expert I've tried to look at the race and figure out which is the most "creative" candidate. I've even thought of doing a rating system, something like movie reviews.

The more I think about rating candidates creativity the more difficult the idea seems.

First of all you'd have to define what you'd measure, things like quality and quantity of ideas, and type of ideas. Right away I'm in trouble because this is information that isn't really shared. Oh, we know what a candidate has chosen to reveal, but that's the tip of the iceberg. Some have written books, so you could search for clues there, but it's still a very incomplete picture.

I'm aware of Audacity of Hope by Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton's It Takes a Village. Do the other candidates have books out? I'll research this and post more later.

You'd also want to measure implementation skill. All the great ideas in the world don't mean a thing if you don't have the ability to get them passed as laws or as initiatives. Great ideas don't make a great leader. You can look at track records for elected officials, but some of the best leaders we've ever had were not active lawmakers, or had limited experience. Abe Lincoln for example -- he only served two years in Congress before being elected President.

It would also be nice to know "level" or raw intelligence. This kind of talent really matters doesn't it?
Let's face it - the most ingenious ideas usually come from very bright people. Same with creative decision-making -- analysis and synthesis of vast amounts of data requires a powerful engine under the hood. Personally I want a lot of horsepower in the President's brain. You can guess IQ in several ways, not the least of which is simply the words people use. But again, you've not got an exact measure here.

I wonder if SAT scores and IQ tests of Presidential candidates are in the public record. They don't tell you eveything, but they tell you something important.

Beyond IQ, education and experience matter in creative effectiveness. They allow you to draw from a deeper and wider database of things to combine into creative solutions. To some degree you could assess educational level, at least formal education. However, it is very difficult to assess life experience. Personally, I learned a great deal about people and life being a bartender, and how could you ever include that kind of world wisdom in an assessment of candidates? You could look at their history I suppose and get a sense of the breadth of their experience. Again, this is highly subjective.

And this doesn't even begin to address the fact that the system doesn't reward candidates for risk taking or for being truly innovative. Truly innovative ideas are not usually accepted easily or quickly, so it is a disincentive for candidates to share those kinds of ideas -- if they even have some. Incremental ideas, that is "in-the-box" ideas are much more likely to get public acceptance. On the other hand they aren't terribly exciting are they? I don't envy these candidates!

The good news, in my opinion, is that the field is large and that increases the chance that among them is a truly creative candidate. As successful people they are creative -- they wouldn't be where they are if they weren't creative to some degree. Raising money and getting elected are extremely challenging and complex. The thing is the creative skills that get you in a position to run and win may not be the creative skills necessary to do a good job as President.

A person who is great at analysis and getting the one right answer is not necessarily the person who has the imagination and vision to lead.