How To Fuel Better Ideas

It’s all about emotion

A recent article in the Harvard Business Review (subscription required) focused on the emotions that fuel a creative mind.

Psychologists have long believed that positive emotions are conducive to creativity because they broaden the mind, whereas negative emotions are thought to be detrimental to creativity because they narrow one’s focus.

But new research shows that while attentional focus is important in creative thinking — because a broader scope of attention is associated with the free-floating collision of ideas while a narrow focus is more conducive to a linear, step-by-step process — motivational intensity makes a bigger difference.

Here’s what I mean: “pleasant” is a positive emotion, but it has low motivational intensity. In contrast, “desire” is also a positive emotion, but it has very high motivational intensity.

How does this affect you as an air talent?

When you’re doing your show prep, or sitting in your promotion meetings, it’s better to be in a state of low motivational intensity, opening your mind to possibilities, rather than high motivational intensity, where you’re more focused on one specific feeling and solution.

Watching funny videos, like this talking dog, should put you in a better creative place than looking at clips of delicious desserts, especially if you’re really hungry.

In the same way, listening to a sad song or watching a sad video will be more helpful than listening to music that makes you feel disgusted or angry.

It’s worth a try.

Today, when you begin your prep session for tomorrow’s show, try putting yourself into an emotional state where you’re feeling either pleasant or sad. Nothing extreme, but trying to implant a new emotional state.

Think of the exercise a bit like meditation. You’re going to spend just a few minutes to center yourself into the mood, the emotional state, most conducive to producing great ideas.

When you feel, it’s more likely your listeners will feel too.

That’s the real goal.