The Path of Least Resistance

The creative mind…

In his book, Creativity And The Mind, psychologist Tom Ward explains that when we think about almost anything, we follow the path of least resistance.

Without consciously trying to, and usually without understanding what is happening, we instantly and automatically put every situation we encounter into files in our minds that are based on our previous experiences.

Even when we try to do something really bold and new, our minds tend to drive us back to ways we’ve reacted before.

Our efforts at creativity are dashed before they can ever really get started.

It’s just human nature, and the way our brains work most efficiently.

There is something you can do to fight this tendency, though because you’ve (probably) never done it, the thought of following through on this will produce anxiety and rationalizations.

Pick the 3 or 4 people you lean on the most when you’re struggling with a creative problem. Chances are they tend to think like you, believe in the same things you believe in, and share most of your basic values and tastes.

That, too, is human nature, but while that makes for more pleasant interactions, it’s actually bad for your creativity.

What you need, if you really want to boost your creativity, is to find people who think completely differently from you, people who approach life and work in ways you never would.

People who will challenge you to think about things from their perspective, something you would never do on your own.

Since it’s not much fun to have these people around you all the time, I would suggest that at least one or two of them be from outside your normal work circle, like consultants and researchers.

Don’t hire them because they believe as you do. Hire them because they will push you out of your comfort zone, and that is where new ideas live.

Embrace the discomfort of these occasional relationships because it will work. It will open new neural pathways in your mind and unlock your innate creativity in ways you can’t foresee.