how do you unleash the creative beast without using your brains? and how do you do that when brainstorming collectively? 2 vital rules.

‘the only way that u can find the answer is if it comes to u naturally in the blink of eye.’   _malcolm gladwell, from his book ‘blink’.

as i listened to this sentence (audio book) it hit me. that’s exactly the problem with creative blocks and group brainstorming sessions. we use our brains!

i’ll give you the riddle malcolm gave in this book, let’s see if you can turn off your brain and find the answer in the blink of an eye:

a father and his son are in a major car accident.
the father is dead, and the son is rushed to the hospital.
as the son is taken into the operations room, the doctor looks in shock at the boy and screams: ‘that’s my son!!’

who’s the father?

usually the answer won’t come to you if you think harder, it’ll rather be like a snap realization. and just like brainstorming, you need to break pre-conceptions (that’s a hint). you need to look beyond the fake limitations we never dare to question.

‘when a design isn’t working, usually the things you think cannot be changed, are the things that most need changing.’ (forgot where i read it.)

to help you a little bit: do you remember a eureka moment you had? you’d be looking at something for a while, from a certain perspective, and suddenly something happens and you see it from a new perspective. and as you say to yourself: ‘hey! i never looked at it like…’ you instantly stop mid-sentence and you shout: ‘i got it!’ that’s how fast it happens, and during that ‘aha’ moment you weren’t using your brain, you simply got new eye-glasses.

let’s say you’re looking at a doctor with his back turned to you, and he’s all suited up for ER with cap and all. how do you tell if he’s man or woman? (did u get your aha moment yet?)

that’s exactly what we do in ‘clown me in’ ( to unleash that creative genius and move the improvisation deeper into unexplored realms. we’re given 2 simple and golden rules, and everybody sticks to them:

  1. don’t think
  2. always say yes

when sabine (clown me in co-founder) asked me during a clowning scene: ‘do you want his shoes?’
now if i think about it, no, i don’t want his shoes. you can see what happens if i say no. nothing happens. the sequence of events stops. neither me, nor the other clowns on stage will have anything to build on. instead, i don’t think (rule 1), and i just say ‘yes!’ (rule 2). that’s when i start running for his shoes like crazy.

sabine builds on this, and shouts: ‘you have to take his shoes without touching them!’ now if i think, the natural reaction would be: ‘how can i take his shoes without touching them!’ and creativity shuts down. instead i excitedly shout ‘yes!’ in my head, jump in front of the fletchy (the other clown), point to his shoes and shout: ‘yuk!! you stepped in elephant shit! let me clean those shoes for you!’ now i know for a fact that fletchy has to say yes (hehe).

you see… these basic but vital rules are what keep the creativity and vitality of the performance going. and it only works if all the clowns in the group abide by them.

now don’t underestimate this, it’s not easy, and it needs practice. when i first started out with ‘clown me in’, it took me five 4-hour sessions to actually manage not to think, and to shut off my brains. then it took me another couple of sessions to start automatically saying yes. and still with mediocre results. now, a lot more sessions later, we all do it with flying colors (most of the time 🙂

so next time you’re brainstorming in a group, or even alone, and you’re digging for that spark of inspiration, don’t think. don’t stop to make up your mind whether her idea is good or not. don’t analyze it. don’t decide whether to say or no. and please please never say: ‘yes, but…’ you’re not sitting in a group trying to see who’s idea you’re going to adopt, or which one is better. don’t be judgmental.

you’re all working together for that ‘aha’ moment, for that spark. and everything put forth is a catalyst that aims to change the eye-glasses you’re looking through. with every new thought, say yes to it, don’t think about it, remove you’re old glasses, and wear new ones. just shout out the first thing that hits your head. make sure everyone is doing that. keep the chain moving, keep the excitement going, and you’ll unleash that creative beast, naturally, and in the ‘blink of an eye’!

yours, will.

twitter: @williamchoukeir

p.s. for those who didn’t figure it out, it’s ok, this has nothing to do with IQ, you just didn’t look at it like this: the doctor is the mother of the son.

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2 Responses to how do you unleash the creative beast without using your brains? and how do you do that when brainstorming collectively? 2 vital rules.

  1. Anonymous says:

    I read ‘Blink’ two years ago. It’s definitely worth another read

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