Tuesday, April 3, 2007

How to be Creative

Lately I gave a talk to the staff and students of the Department of Chemistry at NUS on the “Reflections of a Bare Foot Technopreneur”. It was a lively session.

I like to share some of my thoughts with those who are interested in this subject of technopreneurship and creativity.

Before we learn how to be creative we must have our own definitions of what creativity is and work within these definitions. To me creativity is:

* the ability to see what others cannot see.
* to think what others think is incredible.
* to produce results which others consider extraordinary.

How to be Creative?

The Nobel Laureate of 1981 Roger Sperry propounded his theory that the human brain is divided into two separate hemispheres. They work differently.

The left side deals with objective matters such as analytical, mathematical, logical and even philosophical. Our five senses which are active when we are awake give support to these functions.

The right side of the brain houses non linear thoughts and intuitions. It is characterized by subjectivity, child like wonders, inspiration and creativity. It produces the gut feel, sixth sense, hunch, dreams or intuition which few can share with others. It has been claimed that the right sight of the brain possesses psychic ability.

In our modern society most people, especially employees, use the left side of the brain more than the right side. They are told to be “objective”. All their actions and proposals must be supported by data which can be verified and their reasoning must be logical. This is accepted as normal adult behavior.

Subjectivity is seldom allowed amongst the bulk of society. Those who want to be Few in established bureaucratic administrations are given the opportunity to be subjective in their decisions.

Those who want to be different will have to do it at their own risk. Those who succeed are singled out as having shown initiative, being innovative and even creative. Some are rewarded or even honoured. Others are still struggling trying to break out of their boring routine.

If you are still interested in your job try trouble shooting and innovation first before trying to be creative. In the meanwhile the creative ones must accept the common saying that “ A prophet is not without honour except in his own country”.

How to be creative?

To be creative one has to:

1. learn to activate the right side of the brain more often, to fantasize. Use your psychic power (gut feel) to convert your fantasy or wishful thinking into dreams which you can visualize.

2. prevent your left brain from interfering with this process at this stage by sleeping, meditating or focus on something positive to prevent the left brain from exercising its destructive nature of creative ideas.

3. after that allow your left brain to analyze logically the feasibility and timing of your dream and the ways to achieve it.

4. Pursue your dreams with strengthen passion and commitment supported by courage

5. Monitor closely the progress to see the project through.

Routine work alone does not bring out the creative side or greatness of a person. It can show that a person is above average. He has initiative. He can trouble shoot and innovate to produce modified solutions to the problems at hand.

The greatness in a person can only emerge when he has shown his ability to create, passion to pursue, courage to commit, and capability to achieve. To be creative one needs to have a dream and a mission to start with, to have something to live for all the time. Routine work cannot sustain the challenge of a creative mind.

I have studied the lives of some great people and this is what I found. They may do things by chance, by choice or by force of circumstances like we all do. It is their ability to create that made them stand out among the rest. I read a very inspiring poem by the famous American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882). It has inspired me and touched my life. I like to share it with you.

“Lives of great men all remind us,
We can make our own sublime.
And departing leave behind us,
Foot prints in the sands of time.”

I am sure many would like to be able to leave some foot prints behind as part of their legacies. I am still trying.

Lee Kum Tatt
2 April 2007

No comments: