Some time ago John Cleese gave his take on creating creativity – and the importance of playfulness, humour, and openness.
There are two modes of thinking: the open mode and the closed mode. It is only be encouraging the open mode that we can be creative.
Watch this video to find out exactly what he has to say.
There Are Two Modes Of Thinking
Cleese explains that there are two modes:
The closed mode which tends to be more focussed, stressed and pressured;
and the open mode which tends to be more relaxed, less purposeful and more playful.
It is during the open mode that we can play, and allow our natural creativity to flourish.
The Open mode allows creativity
Cleese gives the example of the discovery of Penicilin. Alexander Fleming must have been in the open mode when he made his discovery. Had he been in the closed mode would have been focussed on the fact that his bacteria culture not having grown.
As it was, he must have been in the open mode of thinking to spot the opportunity and possibility that the uncultured dish presented.
Stress Stifles The Open Mode
The open mode of thinking is crucial to creativity, but it is easily stifled by stress. Cleese gives the example of how film maker Alfred Hitchcock would lighten the mood with a story to keep his (and his team’s) mind open.
To Get Things Done We Need To Switch Between Modes
The open mode of thinking is great for being creative and finding solutions, but once we have a solution, we need to switch to the closed mode to implement it. The closed mode provides the structure and focus needed to get things done.
After the task has been completed, or the solution implemented we should switch back to open mode to consider feedback, and think if we need to act on it to improve ourselves or our approach.
Then we should switch back to closed mode to act on that feedback.
Pressure and Stress Encourage The Closed Mode
The pressures and stress of life and work mean that we often get stuck in the closed mode. We too often get stuck in the closed mode, by pressures in our life. People get addicted to the adrenilin of reacting to the pressure.
Creativity not possible in the closed mode.
There are certain conditions that make it more likely that you will get into the open mode and something creative will occur. Often you will not get open.
5 Stages to Creating Creativity
You can’t be creative and open if you are under your usual life and work pressures. So create space for yourself away from those demands. Seal yourself off and create a quiet space where you will be undisturbed.
2. Time (to create an oasis)
You need to know your creative space will be available for a specific time, and give your mind time to settle down.
Given the chance, your mind will eventually start thinking about your problems. Your mind will race, but eventually it will quieten down and you can begin to think creatively.
It is easier to do trivial things that are urgent, than important things (like thinking). It’s easier to do simple, easy things we’ve done before than new things we’re not so sure about.
3. Time (to use your oasis)
30 minutes is not enough of creative time is not enough. Try to set aside about 1.5 hours.
Do not be tempted to put a whole morning aside. It is better to do 1.5 hours now then another session another day.
Creativity comes by sticking with the problem longer, not from rushing. More creative people play with the problem much longer than others before trying to solve it.
Giving yourself enough time to gently lean against a problem. Give your mind as long as possible to come up with something original.
Creativity is stopped by fear of making a mistake. Playfulness means openness to anything that may happen while you are playing. You cannot be playful if you are fearful that one option or direction is wrong.
To be creative you have to risk saying things that are silly, illogical and wrong.
While you are being creative, nothing is wrong. Anything may bring you the solution.
Laughter brings relaxtion and humour makes us playful. Humour is the central part of spontenaity, playfulness and creativity.
Just because a subject is serious, doesn’t mean there should be no humour.
Set up a space-time oasis and giggle all you want.