|As our environment changes and as the situation changes, we need to be
more creative to be able to come up with novel solutions that can replace
the old ways that are no longer working.
For too many the whole concept of creativity is a black hole, a mystery
understood by the "priests" but not meant to be understood by
the "masses." Many have misconceptions about what creativity is
and what makes a person creative.
Some believe that creative energy is a talent that you either are
born with or never possess. It is seen as a characteristic that can
lead to greatness or frustration, maybe even madness. People who are creative
seem to have, like God, the ability to create something out of nothing,
to work from the blank canvas or block of marble.
Let's set the record straight: we are all naturally creative.
Creativity is a basic survival
characteristic as much a part of who we are as humans as is our opposable
thumb. We all have the creative energy needed to solve problems we face
and to bring new and exciting ideas and experiences into our lives. It isn't
just a few of us that have been blessed in this way.
Our environment can limit, even eliminate, this natural tendency. Our
personal ability to filter out those messages that suggest that we aren't
creative, the personal determination to meet challenges and overcome obstacles,
and to prove to ourselves that this new thing we want to try is worth the
effort, is critical. All of this plays a role in how creative we believe
We are all born with the capacity to create. No matter how you feel about
your ability to create, you can rekindle the creativity that is inherent
How can we rekindle that creative spark? I first experienced the concept
of creativity enhancement when I was Director of Training for the Atari
Corporation in the early '80's. Atari was the textbook unenlightened company.
It had been sold to Warner Communications and was being managed by rug merchant,
Ray Kasar, like a commodity and not the creative endeavor it was. This was
despite the fact that Warner Communications owned Warner Brothers (movies)
and Warner Records and other businesses dependent on the creative energy
of talented individuals.
Ray didn't believe that the talent needed to create a new video game
was any more critical than the talent needed to make a new rug. He refused
to allow video game developers any credit for their creations. The individual
who actually developed the game was a piece worker. All video games were
created by Atari. As a result, some of the best, most creative programmers
had left Atari to start their own company, Activision, at a time when Atari
needed every programmer they could use to create the games for which the
public was clamoring.
As Director of Training and Development, it was my responsibility
to enhance the creativity of the software engineers developing
new games. But many of them lacked the creativity needed to accomplish the
"NeuroLinguistic Programming (NLP)
At about this time I also became interested in a new counseling technology,
NeuroLinguistic Programming (NLP) because I thought that its concepts could
be valuable within the training and development profession. But, I was quickly
drawn to the original process that had been used to develop the technology.
Richard Bandler was curious about why some counselors helped people after
very few visits (five or less), while others had little impact after many
visits (weekly for a year or two). It seemed obvious that the effective
counselors were doing something different, something that was having significant
impact on the patientbut what was it?
So, Bandler interviewed both effective and ineffective counselors to
find the answer.. This was a frustrating experience, because they both described
their methods in the same way. Worse than that, the descriptions were nebulous,
lacking the specifics needed to determine exactly what was making the difference.
It seemed obvious to Bandler that neither group knew what they were doing; the ineffective counselors were
unconsciously incompetent, while the
effective counselors were subconsciously competent.
The Learning Cycle
Let's take a side trip from our current side trip. (Don't worry, all
of this leads to the enhancement of one's creative potential.) While it's
relatively easy to accept that someone could be unconsciously incompetent
and not know what their doing, how could someone be unconsciously competent
and not know, at least at some level, why they are being effective? This
situation results when one moves from unconsciously incompetent directly
to unconsciously competent without going through the learning cycle.
The steps of the learning cycle are:
1) unconsciously incompetent
3) consciously competent
4) subconsciously competent
For example: go into a first grade class and say, "I need someone
to drive my car home. Could any of you help me out?" You'll probably
get some hands, usually boys, from those in the class who don't know that
they don't know how to drive a car, they're unconsciously incompetent. The
ones who don't raise their hands know that they don't know how to drive
a car, they're consciously incompetent. A few years later, in driver's education,
you'll find a lot of people who are paying attention to everything around
them in a very conscious way, they're consciously competent. Finally, you
have those of us who drive into the driveway after an hour's drive from
work and can't remember anything about the drive home, almost like the car
was on auto-pilot, we're unconsciously competent.
The problem is that when you go directly from unconsciously incompetent
to unconsciously competent, you don't know what it is you're