"Genius is in-born, may it never be still-born."

"Oysters, irritated by grains of sand, give birth to pearls. Brains, irritated by curiosity, give birth to ideas."

"Brainpower is the bridge to the future; it is what transports you from wishful thinking to willful doing."

"Unless you keep learning & growing, the status quo has no status."

Saturday, July 18, 2009

GNATS OF CREATIVITY, by Robert Alan Black

Gnats are little things that can irritate and cause pain when we least expect it, or simply distract us long enough to stop or stifle our creativity.

GNATS is an acronym that stands for Generally Natural Actions (Activities or Attitudes) that Threaten and Stop (or Stifle) creativity or innovation.

Because each of us is susceptible to a different collection of GNATS, I’ve developed a list of 26 of them, each starting with a different letter of the alphabet.

They may be caused by ourselves, by people who work with us, by people who we work for, by our clients, by total strangers. They can be real or imagined - true or simply believed to be true, either by ourselves or by others we deal with. GNATS can be physical, mental, emotional or social.

In the current climate that is constantly seeking innovations and creative ideas, we need to be able to deal with all things that can block or deter our creative energies and efforts.

First let’s look over a basic list of GNATS. Then we’ll take a look at a sample of them to explore how they can be prevented, or dealt with, when they come "buzzing" around our heads, externally or internally.

- fearing that you’re too young, too old, not young or old enough, or were not born in the right age, or that your company or organization isn’t young or old enough.

- you don't have the background to work on the problem, or to generate ideas for the topic area.

- you live in the wrong culture, a dull culture, or you are not cultured enough to be truly innovative.

- you’re feeling dull or are in a dull environment.

- you don't have enough, or have the wrong education to be innovative (no degrees, too many degrees, wrong degree-right school or wrong school).

- you’re too foolish to be innovative, or not foolish enough.

- people see your ideas as too much of a gamble before you work out the pitfalls and turn them into viable solutions and workable plans.

Hard work:
- you don't want to accept that innovative thinking is hard work or that you don't want to work hard enough.

- innovative thinking requires more or less intelligence than you possess.

- you’re always jealous of innovative people or you fear others will be jealous of you if you are innovative.

- your ideas are always being killed by others.

- other people just laugh at you when you are creative and never take you seriously.

- you don't have the money to be innovative or you have too much money and don't need to be innovative.

- others are too narrow-minded to accept your innovative ideas.

- you never have any great opportunities--these can be limited by your location, profession, age, etc.

- yours, and theirs, always get in the way of innovation.

- you’re surrounded by people who quit trying too soon, or once they have a workable solution they stop trying.

- your ideas are constantly being called "too radical," and because you prefer to be creative most of the time you are labeled as a "radical."

- you’re under too much stress to be innovative.

- you don't have the time to spend on being innovative as you’re busy enough just trying to complete your assignments.

- you feel unappreciated; therefore you have quit trying to be innovative for others.

- you’re surrounded by "vultures", people who steal your ideas.

- people respond to your creative ideas with wisecracks, put-downs and put-offs.

- people are always copying your ideas without giving you credit.

- you stop or yield to others’ criticisms too easily and too often.

Zipped out:
- you have no energy to be innovative.

Now we’ll look at two of these GNATS, and examine how we may deal with them physically, mentally, emotionally or socially.

Zipped Out

Physically , check your recent sleep habits, each nutritious foods, take a nap, have a piece of fruit, do some stretching exercises, or go for a walk.

Mentally, take a few minutes to write in your journal to examine the potential cause for your low energy. Read or listen to some motivational material. Relax to your favorite music.

Emotionally, list positive things about yourself. List your recent successes. Call a positive friend and ask for a boost.

Socially, go to lunch with a friend or attend an upbeat meeting.


Physically, take a walk around a mall and ask yourself what opportunities the store owners have taken advantage of.

Mentally, list 12 potential opportunities that you see around you; ask yourself what opportunities you might have if you were somewhere else, if there were no limitations on you.

Emotionally, recall 6 to 12 opportunities you’ve had, and write down what was good about them.

Socially, ask 12 people what opportunities they see for you. Call some friends and ask them, especially friends you haven't talked with for a long time

Being creative is your choice; but it takes some effort. From these two examples, list your own physical, mental, emotional, and social solutions to the GNATS that buzz around you, keeping you from being more creative and innovative. And while you’re at it, see what you can do about GNATS that bother your staff.

Many thanks, Alan, for sharing!

[Dr Robert Alan Black runs his own workplace creativity consulting outfit. He is also the author of 'Broken Crayons: Break Your Crayons & Draw Outside the Lines'. The book is available from Amazon.

By the way, here's also a link to many of his other interesting Cre8ng articles.]

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