19 responses

  1. Collin
    March 17, 2008

    Hi Cameron,
    Sweet guest post! I sent it to my squadron as a way to help combat the creative-draining effects of the Academy, haha. I love your blog, thanks for making me smarter!

  2. Cameron Schaefer
    March 17, 2008

    @ Collin,
    Thanks so much for the kind words and sending this to your squad! I’m glad that you liked it!


  3. Brian Reese
    March 17, 2008

    Awesome guest post! I especially like the “willingness” quote described in #3.

    I’ve often found that very creative people teeter on the edge of normality in regards to the rest of main stream society. Moreover, this type of individual is often not accepted in the normal constraints of society, nor do they flourish in rule-following environments (probably not a good thing in the military!)

    I myself am a rule-follower for the most part; however, I believe I have a creative side regarding business and investing. I continue seeking the proper balance between independent thinking and conformity—probably a lifelong pursuit.

    It seems the best form of creativity in terms of business and promoteability within companies deals with accepting and executing orders, while focusing on continuous improvement and questioning of the status quo (at the right times) However, a person must find a proper balance between fitting-in, taking orders from above, and improving processes within an organization (questioning the status quo.) I think these ideas carry over to life as well.

    I’m not sure if you heard Scott Kirby talk at the Academy (current President of U.S. Airways). The guy literally functioned on a different level than your average citizen—in fact he was and is very creative with his methods and approach within the company. He described his rapid rise through the ranks of America West (now U.S. Airways), and his interview that he thought he bombed for being to confrontational with the higher-ups of the company. It turned out they really respected his opinions and wanted someone in his current position that would keep them all in line and question authority rather than just following orders. It certainly brings up an interesting argument for focusing on creativity within the functional constraints of an organization or company.


  4. J.D.
    March 17, 2008

    Good post.

    I use Six Thinking Hats regularly to get meetings on track, but with a twist. I don’t have time to teach everybody the six hats, so I write a list of questions on the board that represent each hat. Each question sets the focus. The group then walks the questions. This means, we collaboratively beat up an idea, find a way to make it work, go through the facts … etc.

    The ah-ha’s with the hats for me were:
    1. putting on a “hat” makes it safe for people to think another way
    2. rather than have six competing perspectives at the same time, walk one perspective at a time as team (ie. we’re all devil’s advocates, now we’re all shiny positive, now we’re all fact finders … etc.)
    3. everybody’s perspective gets a chance
    4. even the idea owner feels safer beating up their own idea, because they know they’ll get a chance to try and make it work

    As far as adding creative techniques to your toolbelt, the most hardcore handbook I’ve ever come across is ThinkerToys. It’s by Michael Michalko who happens to be a former Disney imagineer. The book is full of techniques. I haven’t tried them all, but I’ve adopted a set that have proven effective time and again. Even if you are intuitively creative, it helps to have a name for techniques you might already do. For example, I did 8 patents before reading the book, but now I see how the techniques I instinctively used, are actually documented creative techniques with names.

  5. Catharine de Wet
    March 18, 2008

    Thank you for suggesting the Michalko book and I like your Six Hats variant. Most of my work is in training teachers to work with gifted students, so I will surely incorporate that idea next time we talk about De Bono’s techniques.

  6. Sam Davidson
    March 18, 2008

    These are some great pointers that I’ll add to my list. Here are four things I recommend.

  7. Evelyn
    March 18, 2008

    Creativity is something that I’m hoping to explore in greater depth now. I realise that I’ve been burying it and not given it a chance. Thanks for your article!

  8. Cameron Schaefer
    March 19, 2008

    @ Brian,
    Thanks for your great insight. It’s funny how often people equate creativity with having no rules, or at least not following them when this is rarely the case. The most creative people in my mind our the ones that can come up with brilliant ideas, designs, methods, under strict constraints. On the other hand, there are times for that the norm needs to be challenged, sounds like Kirby is good at recognizing those times.

    @ J.D.,
    Thanks for your comments, what a great way of using the six hats effectively. I definitely want to read ThinkerToys now!

    @ Sam,
    Read, Dream, Share, Start. Those are very simple and effective ways to help become and stay creative. I would be interested in knowing about the creative process in developing your book.

    So glad that this post inspired you to get back into exploring creativity…it made me very excited as well! Please come back and share what you learn along the way.


  9. Akshay Kapur
    March 19, 2008

    I constantly waver between “born with it” and “can be learned” when it comes to character traits. In the case of creativity and your great tips towards developing it, a lot of it boils down to thinking outside the box. And here’s where the innate vs. learned perspective comes in.

    Someone can learn to think creatively and step out of their box.
    But when that thinking becomes the box, you have to once again step out of it and so on. A person born with a creative mind will constantly and irrevocably think outside the box, no matter how that box morphs. A person taught to do so may be one step behind, needing further instructions and tips to be more creative.

    So yeah, you can be more creative and a perspective change can open up all sorts of mental and physical doors. But in order to be continually creative when that isn’t your innate trait, you will also continually need further coaching to maintain it.

    Btw, LOVED your push-up post! (I like ‘em better than bench, easy)

  10. Catharine de Wet
    March 20, 2008


    This is a constant debate in education circles – Can creativity be taught/learned? My own conclusion is that it can. There is ample evidence from research studies that certain aspects of creativity can be taught. It is after all mostly about learning ways of thinking.

    The other side of the coin is that some people are more naturally inclined to specific ways of thinking that are conducive to creative thinking. I believe there is a strong correlation between personality factors and something like creativity. My husband is a very literal, black and white kind of person. For someone like him, it would take intentional effort to think outside the box, whereas I tend to see uncommon trends and links more easily. But for both of us, there is an element of discipline involved in thinking creatively. He has to deliberately go outside of his comfort zone and work on finding the uncommon and the new, while I have to at some point, harness all the wild ideas into something that can be applied practically.

    I do like your morphing box metaphor.

  11. Jackie
    July 2, 2010

    Hi Camron,
    Good post
    I also believe that a person willing to be a creative, can become creative with some technique and ofcourse hardwork. It requires lots of dedication and passion to be something or to create something.
    Nature is the best source for looking for idea. To think creative person need to leave boundary of his own belief or his own view and try to analyze the thing from different perspective.
    And yes, i also belive the creativity is lifstyle. its a way of living.
    creative person fell/see things differntly everytime they see them.
    Meditation is a great way of becoming creative because if your mind is not relaxed you can not get the best idea out of your mind.

    February 11, 2011

    internet is my best friend because it gives me information to suceed

  13. Shaina
    April 19, 2012


    I think this is a great article, would you be open to using it as a guest post on my digital journal, toolsies.com? It’s a website about people, their essential tools for life and work. I think this would be a great read for the readers, let me know your ideal situation for things like this!

    Cheers~ shaina

  14. Cameron Schaefer
    April 19, 2012


    Just checked out toolsies.com – I really like it! E-mail me: cameron.schaefer@gmail.com and we’ll discuss using this post – think it could work well.


  15. Hannu-Pekka Kulmala
    March 4, 2013

    I’m attempting to rewire my brain for creativity with this ambidextrous exercise:


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