Posted on Leave a comment

The ABCs of Creativity: Zone

When someone is “in the zone,” he or she is exhibiting the highest level of his or her talent through a seemingly effortless expenditure of energy. Michael Jordan’s 38 pts, 7 rebound, five assists, three steals and a block stat line while having the flu or his hitting six triples against Portland and shrugging about it after being criticized for his lack of three-point shooting skills are both great examples of being in the zone. Athletes are most often described this way because they are most often in the limelight, but artists, scientists and hobbyists can feel as if they are in the zone or, as creativity pioneer Csikszentmihalyi called it, “the flow.”

In Csikszentmihalyi’s “Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention,” he describes part of the creative process as “the flow” and says that there are nine elements that characterize the flow:

  • Clear goals with no ambiguity: In the case of Jordan’s basketball games, the goal is clear; put the ball in your hoop. Whether you do it or you get a teammate to do it, the ball needs to get in your hoop.
  • Immediate feedback: The ball either goes in the hoop or it doesn’t. The feedback is immediate.
  • Challenge and skills are balanced: This is a little more difficult to illustrate. Basically, the question is whether or not the person’s skills are balanced with the challenge he or she is facing. If the challenge is too easy or too difficult, the person will not be able to enter the flow. It’s when the two are in alignment that the person enters the flow state.
  • Action merges with awareness: The person is focused on what he or she is doing. They do not think about anything other than the activity in the here and now.
  • No distractions: They exclude distraction from their minds. They are in the moment.
  • No concern about failure: The activity that the person is involved in is too consuming to give the person the opportunity to worry about failing or the outcome of failure.
  • No self-consciousness: The activity is too consuming for the person to be worried about how he or she appears to the outside world.
  • Time changes: Things slow down and time speeds up so that while the person is doing the activity, every detail can be examined, everyone else around him or her is slower, but when the activity is over the person doesn’t feel as if any time at all has passed. He or she loses track of time.
  • The activity is the end not the means to an end: If the activity is itself the goal and the required means to get to a greater goal, it becomes easier to enter the flow. If an author is writing to write a book and not to publish it or make money from it, he or she is more likely to enter the flow.

Getting into the flow creatively is why artists are depicted as absent-minded or the author doesn’t her someone calling out to him while he or she sits at the typewriter. It’s also what makes creativity so rewarding. Being in the flow indicates the person is operating at his or her highest possible ability without being overwhelmed. Get in the flow, or the zone, if you prefer, become more creative.

For more on creativity, check out, “Disneyland Is Creativity,” “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity,” and “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories for Greater Positive Creativity.” If you want more content like this, join our Patreon.

Posted on Leave a comment

The Genius of the New York Knicks Free Agency 2019

The New York Knicks are three steps ahead of everyone in the NBA, and no one has realized it. While everyone is laughing about the Knicks free agent acquisitions during the first day of free agent negotiations in the NBA, the Knicks will ultimately be the ones to have the last laugh.

The Knicks announced their free agents Taj Gibson, Bobby Portis and Julius Randle as they missed out on top tier talent like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Fans booed. The rest of the NBA made thousands of jokes at the Knicks expense. These three players play the same position: power forward, and its one that has also been filled by current Knicks player Luke Kornet. Here’s why the Knicks are at the next level.

Teams had success with “the Twin Towers” concept of playing two centers like Ralph Sampson and Hakeem Olajuwon or David Robinson and Tim Duncan. Two centers led to better defense and better shooting percentages.  Teams had success with small ball like Don Nelson’s Warriors. Playing three guards provides more ball-handling and more speed.

But no team has played three power forwards on the floor at the same time. Basketball is a game of innovation. The time for the next evolution of basketball has arrived, and the New York Knicks are just a little quicker at getting there than everyone else.

Posted on Leave a comment

The Secrets to Exercising for Creatives

cross-cultural work requires people putting hands together

Most people find excuses to not exercise. We need to find excuses to exercise. Since we’re creative, we can do it. Put your creativity to work for you and get your health in the right place so you can create more, create longer, and create better.

Make Time

Like your creative activities, you have to make time to exercise. If you think you don’t have time, you will never have time. There are so many responsibilities pulling you in so many directions; it’s easy to ignore exercise even as your health deteriorates. Set aside 30 minutes every day to do something good for you, your life, and your craft.

Find a Partner

One of the best things you can do is find a partner who is able to motivate you to exercise. External motivation may not be the best motivation, but if it gets you started and drags you through those times when you’d rather be working on the computer, then take it. We all have family members or friends we need to spend time with. If it’s your children, find activities that encourage movement together. Your significant other could also be motivating. A good friend might do the trick to. If you know you need to spend time with someone choose events and activities that will encourage both of you to be healthy.

Find a Reason

Use your creative works to help improve your mindset toward exercise. If you’re a writer, this can be as easy as really wanting to know what basic training is like, or trying to describe fighting styles, or just harnessing the feelings involved in a certain activity that corresponds to your writing’s settings. It’s hard to write about the woods if you’ve never been in them.

Find an Exercise You Like

You can choose any exercise in the world. There will be people in your area that engage in the activity, and they are probably looking for others to join them.

  • Kickball: Adult kickball leagues range from competitive to beer. This was one of the most fun activities I engaged in when I lived in Alaska.
  • Basketball: I started playing basketball in Germany and continued through college and into my mid-thirties. At 5’ 4” with a bad knee, I’m not your typical player, but I enjoyed it.
  • Disc Golf or Frisbee Golf: Frisbee golf is easy. You just need to get a frisbee and find something to throw it at. In college, we used light posts and trees as our goals. Disc golf is a little more serious with courses and specialized throwing discs.
  • Fencing: Swords? Yes, please.
  • Geocaching: Hiking with a destination. High-tech treasure hunting. Get your GPS and get out to find something or just sign your name.
  • Tai Chi: It’s a martial art. It’s slow. It’s easy to motivate me to do Tai Chi.
  • Instinctive Archery: Breathing, stance, and getting in touch with your inner self are all part of the experience. Plus, over the course of an hour, you’ll pull a lot of weight, even with a light bow.
  • Yoga: For me, yoga isn’t that exciting, but it’s something my wife loves. Then I found Cosmic Kids Yoga: storytelling inspired by Disney, Star Wars and more with yoga moves. They make yoga fun.
  • Ballroom and Swing Dancing: Find a group and go. If you’re alone and you’re a guy, don’t worry; there are usually a lot of women willing to dance with a partner they don’t know. Of course, women also dance with each other when no guys are present. Either way, dancing is a good way to work up a sweat. Swing and ballroom dancing just help you look cool doing it.
  • Children’s games: Just because you’re grown up doesn’t mean you can’t play like children do.

When you choose an activity, give it two or three weeks and go at least three times each week. You won’t be good the first couple of times. That’s okay. You’re not supposed to be good at anything the first time. Don’t just do exercise on the weekends. That’s a good way to get injured more easily. Of course, you can always choose more than one activity and you might have your own. It took a couple of weeks before I came up with the idea for looking for videos on Disney Yoga. If you have suggestions for motivating and fun exercises, put them in the comments.

Realize the Benefits

If you know the benefits of exercise and keep them in the forefront of your mind, you’re less likely to skip them. If you want to live longer, better and be healthier, so you can create more and create better while being a part of your friends’ and family’s lives, exercise should be on your list of daily activities.

Have Health Insurance

My lack of health insurance stopped me from playing basketball. I can’t afford to break a leg, blow out a knee or rupture an Achille’s tendon. Having health insurance removes that excuse. It allows you to continue to get the long-term benefits of exercising while mitigating the fear of what could happen if something were to go wrong. I could get hurt walking down the street or going down the stairs, but removing basketball from my exercise regime also limited the possibility of experiencing a catastrophic injury. (And removed one of the places where I was able to socialize.)

Get a Dog

If you’re lucky enough to have space for a pet and live somewhere you can have one, get a medium sized or larger dog, even if you’re more of a cat person. Dogs require you to walk them and play with them. If you take care of your dog in the right way, you’ll also be taking care of yourself. Just be sure that you understand what kind of commitment your making, then go for a walk with your dog for your health.

As always, consult with a physician before you start a new exercise program. If you’re not convinced as to the benefits of exercise, yet, check out “The Secrets to Creativity: Exercise.” For more on creativity, order “Disneyland Is Creativity: 25 Tips for Becoming More Creative.” Get “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories: Improving Your Creativity for a Better Life and World.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.”

Posted on 1 Comment

The ABCs of Creativity: Failure

foul ball failure

“I think it’s important to have a good hard failure when you’re young. I learned a lot out of that” – Walt Disney.

As students, we grow up learning that failure is bad. A big red “F” accompanied by red marks on the page looks like spilled blood and marks an academic death. Too many failures, and you won’t get into the right college, you won’t get the right job, and you won’t make any money. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there.

As an employee, failure is never applauded and often leads to your boss directing stern words (if not outright yelling) at you or dismissing you from the job entirely. Failure isn’t seen as the stepping stone it can be, but rather as the end of the journey. It doesn’t have to be that way.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work” – Thomas Edison.

Failure is not only important for creativity. It’s inevitable. Any time you’re doing something new, you’re going to fail. Your first ideas won’t necessarily be the best, and they won’t necessarily work. They may even cause more problems than they solve. Whatever happens, if you’re trying something new, you will fail unless you get lucky.

The most successful sports figures fail all the time. Ted Williams had an on base percentage (OBP) of less than 50 percent. He failed to get on base more than half the time he was at bat, and he has the best all-time OBP in the MLB. NBA player DeAndre Jordan hits a little more than 2/3 of his shots from the field and has the highest shooting percentage in NBA history (so far). If in-game shooting were a test in school, he’d only score a “D.” NFL Quarterback Drew Brees is in a slightly better position with his over 67 percent completion rate, but in school it would come down to being the same grade. Other than Ted Williams, who was happy with $30,000 a year, these guys are making millions of dollars and failing a lot on a very public stage.

The important thing about failure is to learn from it. Failing without learning doesn’t help anyone. Most people learn more from their failures than their successes. When you fail, find out what you missed and what went wrong. You’ll find yourself set up for greater success as you harness the power of creativity and learn lessons from failing.

For more on creativity, get “Disneyland Is Creativity.” Order “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories: Become more creative for a better life and world.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.