I have a friend who is a property stylist. She makes her living creating dream houses for people to sell. She’s the one we always call when fancy dress is required, and her children’s parties look like something out of Vogue Living. But I have become her
unofficial personal assistant: I make sure she gets her forms back on time, that she knows when key events are happening, that she buys her tickets early to get good seats.
Why have I taken on this role? Because I am ruthlessly organized. For me, there is a certain thrill in getting something DONE. Crossing it off the list. (Tick!) I am so organized that it disturbs me that others might not be same.
So this pretty much rules out my chances of a career in a creative endeavour. Why? Because efficiency is the death of creativity. The brain is like a series of filing cabinets. We learn, over time, what is in each drawer and the best way to find
it. The more we follow these behaviours, the more hard coded they become. Don’t believe me? Try the following exercise by Michael Michalko
Read aloud the following colours as fast as you can. Not the words themselves, but the colour that you see within each word.
It is really difficult isn’t it? Because your brain keeps accessing the filing cabinet with which it associates the written word.
Efficient people have well worn brain pathways that allow them to do things quickly and efficiently. They literally “barely have to think” to do some tasks. Creative folks are usually less efficient as they let their brains wander a bit more, which gives them access to all sorts of interesting ideas - but means they forget their banking
password from time to time.
But all is not lost for us filing cabinet types. Although it may not be our natural state, there are plenty of ways to fire up those new neurons. Here are a few:
1. Do it differently:
Drive a different way to work or God forbid, get the bus! Change your morning routine, sit in a different place at work every day (surprise and delight your colleagues!), or just wear a different scent. It can be disturbing for those of us who find comfort in the familiar but it shakes the brain out of those grooves for a little
2. Access a different “channel”:
We all have a certain preference for how we process information. Some are visual people who need to see something to understand it; some are auditory people who need to have information told to them, and some are kinetic/feeling people who need to physically or emotionally sense something to comprehend it.
Using the channel that you aren’t comfortable with can unlock ideas. You could try shutting your eyes during meetings to access a latent auditory channel (and perhaps much derision from your colleagues). Drown your office cubicle in art, to see what happens for those who aren’t very visual. And non kinetic people should whip out a hula hoop at lunchtime (or just a stress ball for the less extroverted.)
3. Try to find a different perspective:
A great way to trick the brain is to pretend it belongs to someone else. If you force it to think about a problem from the perspective of a child, a famous person or a great brand, you are jumping past those hard wired pathways onto new ones.
So best of luck with your new creative endeavours, and I hope you find satisfaction in your choice of career, property styling or not. But just don’t blame me if you are late to