Kids are constantly creating, daydreaming or asking questions. They can transform a boomstick into a baseball bat, rhythmically beat on pots and pans and enjoy their music, and find the resources to build a treehouse without money.

By the end of their first year in school, creativity is mostly washed out of their brain. It is a necessary process of socialization (not acting out) and learning to stick to a task to completion. School and the teacher is not the villain, they are performing a necessary process of civilization and fitting in.

What about adults? Our experience with school students and executives is we all have the capability and potential to be creative, but we are scared to death of criticism and being wrong so we sit there and shut up.

Everybody? The exception to the rule of stifling our creativity (Latin: to make) and imagination are writers, artists, musicians, and internally driven Big-Mouths.

What the secret of being creative in your career and getting promotions and more dinero?


What knocks kids off their creativity track?

a) “Johnny, pay attention and stop DAYDREAMING?”
b) “Maria, sit there and listen, and stop asking all those useless QUESTIONS.”
c) “Danny, you have five-minutes to finish the exam. If you FAIL, you don’t graduate. Stay on task or your life is over at eight-years old.”

The answer to loss of creativity is Fear of Failure and Fear of Criticism.
The number one desire of humans is a desire to be APPRECIATED, and valued as important, useful to our environment. Criticism creates a fear of failure and is the opposite of appreciation.

Two Elements For Creativity

One, we must give ourselves permission to follow our instinctual CURIOSITY. Parents say NO, five-times more often than YES. We are subliminally taught to disregard our own opinion, and accept the judgment of others. Follow your natural curiosity.

Second, successful people learn early to have a tolerance for FRUSTRATION. A student asked me to read her manuscript. She was a superstar in writing Hollywood scripts, but this was a book totally outside her area of proven success.

She showed it to her agent who said, “It was OK, but in my opinion it will never make a dime. Why not stick to what you know, write another script.”

Look, he got 10% of her earnings so he really wanted her to succeed. She was not insulted or deterred, and continued to market her book.

Guess what, she was turned down for publication by 14 other major companies. She continued to write scripts, but never gave up. She started selling the book one-at-a-time by making photocopies. Ugly.

Yes, it is one-in-a-million, but later found a publisher and sold a total of three-million copies internationally of the book no one wanted.

Oh yeah, I thought it was boring too.

Four Ideas on Creativity

Robert Epstein, teaching at University of California, at San Diego lists four methods leading to creativity.

1. Capturing the original idea before it flies out of your mind and is lost forever. PDA, Memo Recorder, leave a message to you on your voice mail, send yourself an Email. Simplest of all, have a pen and paper next to your bed for dreaming ideas.

2. Surround yourself with people, places (museums), and things that value new ideas, inventions and things untested, but with potential.

3. Challenging yourself to grow new ideas. Use-it-or-lose-it applies to your PFC (prefrontal cortex), the site of cognition and new ideas. Find small challenges to succeed at like finishing crossword puzzles. Write a fairy tale for your kids. Try rewriting an article in Psychology Today for your friends.

4. Broadening means trying to learn from people and media outside your comfort zone. Change your environment and let it lead you into new questions and research. The greater your diversity of knowledge, the better your creativity.

New Research

The number of hours you watch tv, play video games or watch You Tube stories about dogs and cats, the lower your total of time devoted to Daydreaming. So what? Daydreaming is a direct source of your creativity and imagination for new ideas.

Sending your kids off to their room to watch tv is a negative because they never learn to use their own imagination as a source of amusement and entertainment.

Two parts to successful daydreaming: give permission to your mind to drift into valuable daydreaming, and actively paying attention to your imagination to latch on new useful ideas you can use.

Default Network

When you are not actively using your left-hemisphere for reasoning, logic and planning, your brain rests in its Default Network. It is not sleeping there, but trying to solve your problems at a subconscious level, and thinking up new ideas.

Dr. Marcus Raichle, Washington University, lead researcher has discovered the three parts of the Default Network.
First, your medial Frontal Cortex, next, your Parietal Cortex, and third, your Cingular Cortex.

When you go into Beta cycles per second (Hz), left-hemisphere consciousness, which includes language and cognition, you Deactivate your Default Network, and return to the present and stop daydreaming.

Folks with Alzheimer’s do not have the ability to deactivate and lose the present because their Attention and Concentration is focused on their daydreaming.


Team meetings are mostly a waste of time because more than 50% of the members dread loss of face and sit there and shut off. Fear of criticism silences some great ideas.

Answer: a 15 minute meeting should consist of 5 minutes to discuss the problem and what a solution should contain. Next, 5 minutes alone where each member keeps her/his own counsel and jots down ideas to share later. Finally the team reassembles
and discusses every one’s individual ideas to discover what fills the bill. Discuss, not judge the presented ideas.

The standard team meeting is 30-45 minutes all-together-now, where 1-2 members dominate the presentations. It doesn’t work because of varied personalities who do not want to reveal themselves because of potential criticism. Try the new way.


Would it increase your personal productivity by reading and remembering three (3) books, articles and reports, while your peers can hardly finish one? How about doubling your long-term memory? Ask us how.

See ya,
copyright © 2008
H. Bernard Wechsler

Author's Bio: 

Author of Speed Reading For Professionals, published by Barron's,
business partner of Evelyn Wood, creator of speed reading,
graduating 2 million, including the White House staffs of four
U.S. Presidents.