Walt Disney’s Creative Thinking Strategies

Yeah, we thought that would get your attention:

If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It – by Michael Michalko

Walt Disney was a high school dropout who suffered several business disasters and bankruptcy.  He overcame his personal and financial challenges by using his imagination to create an entertainment empire that has touched the hearts, minds and emotions of all of us.

He summarized his creativity in one word: Imagineering. The term “Imagineering” combines the words imagination and engineering. Imagineering enabled him to transform the dreams, fantasies and wishes of his imagination into concrete reality.
Disney’s thinking strategy involved exploring something using three different perceptual positions.

An insight into these positions comes from the comment made by one of his animators that: “Disney’s thinking technique synthesized three different strategies: the dreamer, realist, and the critic. A dreamer without a realist is often not able to translate fantasies into tangible reality. A dreamer and critic become engaged in constant conflict. A dreamer and realist can create things but find that a critic helps to evaluate and refine the final products.”

Following are descriptions of each strategy:

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The Science of Storytelling

AKA Why Telling a Story is the Most Powerful Way to Activate Our Brains:

by Leo Widrich

A good story can make or break a presentation, article, or conversation. But why is that? When Buffer co-founder Leo Widrich started to market his product through stories instead of benefits and bullet points, sign-ups went through the roof. Here he shares the science of why storytelling is so uniquely powerful.

In 1748, the British politician and aristocrat John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, spent a lot of his free time playing cards. He greatly enjoyed eating a snack while still keeping one hand free for the cards. So he came up with the idea to eat beef between slices of toast, which would allow him to finally eat and play cards at the same time. Eating his newly invented “sandwich,” the name for two slices of bread with meat in between, became one of the most popular meal inventions in the western world.

What’s interesting about this is that you are very likely to never forget the story of who invented the sandwich ever again. Or at least, much less likely to do so, if it would have been presented to us in bullet points or other purely information-based form.

For over 27,000 years, since the first cave paintings were discovered, telling stories has been one of our most fundamental communication methods. Recently a good friendof mine gave me an introduction to the power of storytelling, and I wanted to learn more.

Here is the science around storytelling and how we can use it to make better decisions every day:

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The Neuroscience of Creativity

Yes, it’s true. It takes a brain to be creative. So those of you who don’t have one…hey, sorry:

By Kathy Graham

We don’t normally associate neuroscience with creativity yet the study of the brain has much to contribute to what is set to be the premium topic of the 21st century.

Susan Greenfield is a scientist, writer, broadcaster and member of the House of Lords. She was also a keynote at last year’s Mind & Its Potential conference where she presented on this very subject, framing her talk around four specific questions: Is our creativity genetically determined? What happens in the brain during the creative process? How can we maximise the opportunities for creativity? How can we develop a sense of creativity?

Is our creativity genetically determined?
Greenfield tells us our genes are important but they’re not the whole story and that environment plays a key role. Not only that, we have the superlative ability to adapt to our environment, a state of affairs known as brain plasticity.

The upshot is that each and every one of us has our own unique configuration of brain cell connections shaped by our individual experiences, which in turn are driven by mental processes. “The critical issue is not the contraction of the muscle, it’s the thought that has preceded it, that has left its mark on the brain,” she says.

That’s her first main point. Her second is that the more connections there are – our brain cells work harder and these connections multiply when we’re engaged in a stimulating enriched environment – the more “you can see one thing in terms of something else, then perhaps it has a significance to you. That’s what we mean by understanding. In this way, by virtue of our neuronal connections, we can navigate the world [and] start to understand what’s going on.”

What happens to the brain during the creative process?
Greenfield shows a slide of a portrait that’s been painted in an abstract style to demonstrate that creativity requires three necessary steps. “Perhaps the first stage in creativity is to deconstruct to abstract sensations, to challenge dogma. The second is unusual associations.” The third? “[A work of art] only has validity if it has a significance and meaning, if it will therefore drive other connections in your brain.”

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And Now, a Major Real-Life Rule For Writers to Live By

Hey, it’s from Lifehacker.Com, so you know it’s about Real Stuff:

“We Have to Continually Be Jumping Off Cliffs and Developing Our Wings on the Way Down” – by Whitson Gordon

Authors Ray Bradbury and Kurt Vonnegut, both of whom have been cited as saying versions of this quote, know a thing or two about creativity. They say that “We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” Apart from being a vivid image, it’s a great metaphor for taking risks. Sometimes, you need to just jump headfirst into a project, even if you don’t know where you’re going with it yet. You’ll learn as you go, and sometimes that’s the best way to get the results you want.

True dat. Except when it isn’t.

Well, okay, we’ll give Ray and Kurt the thumbs up for truth sign. But FWIW we believe in making just a few preparations for stepping off the cliff. Some knowledge or skill that might double as wings.

But we’re definitely believers in the “No safety net” theory of life. Because sometimes going splat! is the best way to learn.

(And failing as a writer won’t kill ya like a 1000 foot fall will. The human spirit is much more resilient than too many people believe.)

LB on Writing: The Rule of 10,000

Outliers, by Malcolm Gladstone

Hmm, an internet success meme that almost makes sense. Unless, of course, you take it literally:

What Is the 10000 Hour Rule?

The 10000 Hour Rule is just that. This is the idea that it takes approximately 10000 hours of deliberate practice to master a skill.For instance, it would take 10 years of practicing 3 hours a day to become a master in your subject. It would take approximately 5 years of full-time employment to become proficient in your field. Simply work out how many hours you have already achieved and calculate how many more you need to clock up before you reach 10000. (As interpreted on Squidoo.)

My experience tells me that, yes, there’s a great deal of truth in Malcolm Gladstone’s new book, Outliers. But in spite of the way various self-help websites have latched onto it, this particular Gladstonian adage, like most good advice, works on the metaphorical as opposed to the literal level.

In other words, everything I’ve done/seen/known in my shockingly long (to me) life puts me in complete agreement with the idea that practicing, practicing, practicing (for writers, writing, writing, writing) is essential for anyone to get really good – professionally good – at just about anything.

Assuming, of course, that you have talent.

‘Cuz – and I’m really sorry, boys and girls – if you don’t start with your own aptitude for something I don’t care how long and hard you work at it…it just ain’t gonna happen for you.

And that too comes from my own experience. There’s a reason I became a writer instead of a major league baseball player even though I loved chucking the ole pill around as much as I loved to write. Love wasn’t enough. Practice wasn’t enough. I lacked the innate potential.

Maybe we should change this to “The Rule of Busting Your Hump So You Can Get Even Better at Something Your Genetic Makeup Has Already Made You Good For?”

What? Oh, right. I agree. That’s definitely missing a little something. Give me 10,000 hours to work at rephrasing it and I’ll come up with something grand!