The Benefits of Creativity

How to Extend Life, Solve Problems, and Develop Confidence

Going against the crowd with an innovative idea does not create bad stress as some might think, but instead adds to your life, allows you to help others by solving problems, and instills a deep sense of self-confidence. Yet these values are seldom sought after in business because it goes against the cultural norms of the corporate world—leading to the demise of 100+ year old companies like SEARS.

pen-idea-bulb-paperI was working in a theatre on the set construction team when the director went nuts. The scene being rehearsed left too much to the imagination and came across flat. The lead actor was supposed to use a special techno device that lacked originality and looked far from a working model. The property master had failed in bringing about the believability factor.

The director turned to me, pointed his finger and said, “You, make something that will wow the audience.”

I put on my “Imagineering” hat after scavenging through my basement, the prop closet and stage workshop. The creation required me to play with levers, buttons, gismos, blinking lights, and a bit of fog pouring out of cracks in the hoses. And of course, I did use some gaffer’s tape for good measure.

The audience admired the innovation with several people offering the theatre money for the prop. Bids kept coming in throughout the run of the show and the machine was eventually sold to offset some of the production costs. But more importantly was the outcome in my life. I was given free stage access to produce my own show to a sold out crowd.

Not only was the creative moment the key to unlocking my future in theatre, but it also gave me three additional benefits.

A Longer Life. Numerous studies now show that creativity reduces stress. The Journal of Aging and Health published findings, from 1,000 men studied between 1990 and 2008, that only creativity—not intelligence or overall openness—decreased mortality risks. In fact, all of the creative men lived longer than the others.

The University of Rochester Medical Center’s Nicholas Turiano said, “Individuals high in creativity maintain the integrity of their neural networks even into old age… Creative people may see stressors more as challenges that they can work to overcome rather than as stressful obstacles they can’t overcome.”

Improved Problem Solving. Creative people are used to seeing things from multiple perspectives, giving them an advantage in finding a solution that will work. Because creativity is a form of play for the creative, he or she is more likely to try things others may never consider. Even Einstein used what he called combinatory play. By testing the juxtaposition of various unrelated ideas he was able to create his theory of relativity.

During the NASA space missions in the 1960s and 1970s, scientists followed Einstein’s lead by using combinatory play to explore solutions that might benefit the space program. The result was over 4,000 patents that led to the creation of many common household goods of today including the super soaker, cordless vacuums, treadmills, insulation, water filters, scratch resistant lenses, solar energy, ear thermometers, etc.

A High Level of Confidence. While some people think confidence opposes humility, it is the exact opposite. Confidence is the ability to see failure as a tool that leads to success. People who have a high level of confidence seldom hold onto fears in life. This stance brings clarity of thought and the ability to improvise when needed.

The creative person who lives with failure as a tool for success sees a looming deadline as an opportunity to play. The person who lacks creativity sees the deadline as pending failure. He or she will tend to freeze up and block new ideas from forming.

We know that Thomas Edison was a creative because it took him 1,000 attempts to invent the light bulb. That means he had to be creative enough to come up with 1,001 new ideas. He didn’t have one idea that happened to work. He had a creative process in place that allowed him the opportunity to test out 1,000 freshly brainstormed ideas.

People who play it safe in corporations by not speaking up or volunteering for tasks that require creativity are missing out on the great benefits that creativity gives us: a longer life, improved problem solving abilities, and a high level of self-confidence. They are also missing out on the opportunity to play when associates freeze up with fear. For these reasons I always recommend people work on developing their creativity.

Are you able to come up with 1,001 ideas, one of which will change the world?

© 2017 by CJ Powers

Unsung Female Heroes

sateliteMany have caught onto the fact that I support women in their dream endeavors. This is partly due to my upbringing, as I was born into what I call a matriarch. Grandma LePage was a strong woman that handled the village’s finances. She was a lady that earned respect from hundreds of people. I’ve heard stories about how her mother was even stronger and also highly respected.

My mother was a very strong and opinionated leader that helped hundreds of kids learn the difference between book and street smarts. Countless people learned that the applications of life lessons were seldom accomplished in the way books taught.

Of course, several strong aunts surrounded me. One was well known in the food industry. Another was known in the music and arts community. Still others fit into their own areas of expertise. None were solely domestic housewives. They all held powerful positions in business and the arts, and took care of family duties.

Unfortunately our society never recognized the brilliant accomplishments that happened daily. As a single parent, although my kids are now on their own, I can tell you about the energy it took these women to manage their households and perform great work in their communities.

This juxtaposition of home duties against the workload of a job was countrywide, yet was seldom recognized. During the 1960s space race, the Rocket Girls were called sweetie, instead of by the title of their earned engineering degrees. These women handled all the calculations that allowed NASA to put the first satellite in space.

The daughter of a friend of mine was working hard to get into a prestigious engineering school. After qualifying, they recommended she not attend since she wouldn’t be able to keep up with the boys and would eventually be rejected. Did that top ten school not know that capable women worked NASA’s engineering calculations before high speed computers took over?

Back in 1849 Maria Mitchell was the first hire for non-domestic skills by the U.S. government. She was the “computer of Venus.” She made daily mathematical calculations of the stars and Venus. The results of her work were titled the United States Nautical Almanac. It was so accurate that ships worldwide used it for navigation until modern day GPS took over.

From charting navigation, to rocketing a man into space, to the numerous calculations women work in preparation for heading to Mars, women have been instrumental in the creation of many modern day conveniences. In the medical community alone women created 4,000 plus inventions.

Since women are doing great things for our communities, I believe we should make sure they get their due recognition. For decades they’ve been our unsung heroes of community growth and they deserve the acknowledgment. So from me, thank you ladies for all you’ve done!

© 2016 by CJ Powers