The 25th Anniversary Edition (completely revised and updated) of the book "A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative" will be published by Business Plus on May 5, 2008. It is appearing in stores this week, and is currently shipping from Amazon. The retail price is $16.99 ($11.55 at Amazon).
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Exercise: When do you get your ideas? During what kinds of activities and situations do you get your ideas? For example, doing routine work, as a response to questions, during physical exercise, late at night, driving, in the company of others, under stress, etc.
I have asked this question to probably a million people. The answers I've received can be grouped into two categories. The first is necessity, and is represented by replies such as:
- "When I'm faced with a problem."
- "When things break down, and I have to fix them."
- "When there's a need to be filled."
- "When the deadline is near . . . that's the ultimate inspiration."
These responses bear out the old adage that "necessity is the mother of invention."
But interestingly enough, an equal if not greater number of people get their ideas in the opposite situation, and they respond along these lines:
- "When I'm just playing around."
- "When I'm doing something else."
- "When I'm not taking myself too seriously."
- "After my second beer."
From this I conclude that: "Necessity may be the mother of invention, but play is certainly the father."
Indeed, I sincerely believe that a playful attitude is fundamental to creative thinking. I'll bet that you generate most of your new ideas when you're playing around in your mental playground. That's because your defenses are down, and there is little concern with the rules, practicality, or being wrong. When you play, you give yourself a license to try different approaches without fear of penalty.
How can you play with your problem?