I was recently reminded of the power of creativity: I attended a conference where Artist, Communicator and Corporate Consultant Erik Wahl gave a key note address. After a successful corporate career Erik decided to return to his first love: art. He now works with corporations world-wide, helping them to discover creative solutions to seemingly unsolvable problems.


In simple terms creativity involves taking two or more old ideas and combining them in new ways. If your work requires a primarily left-brain approach (as is the case with computer technicians, pilots, engineers and many others) you may not, until now, have recognized the value of creativity. If so you’ll be interested to learn that only through a flash of illumination or insight (referred to as “The Step”) did Albert Einstein discover his Theory of Relativity. In other words Einstein could only attribute part of his brilliant discovery to left-brained functions such as mathematical formulas. Without his moment of creative genius his theory would never have been born.


Today, more than ever before, our world is in dire need of creative solutions. This is apparent with regard to issues such as reducing the “carbon footprint” and solving the world financial crisis, or in the fields of international affairs and healthcare.


Right about now you might be asking yourself: “what does this have to do with me”? Truth be told, none of us needs to be brilliant in order to have a flash of brilliance; here are some ways to ignite your creative potential when stumped by a problem:


  • Change something, anything: Take a new route to work, change your morning routine, or rearrange your office furniture. Changing small things can often trigger new ways of seeing old problems.

  • Ask yourself what Abraham Lincoln would do: Sometimes considering the problem at hand from someone else’s perspective can suggest a new solution. How would an alien landing on earth view your conundrum? What would your long-departed, beloved Grandmother advise you to do?

  • Write, write, and write: There has been much research done into the value of journaling. This exercise seems to bring less-than-conscious material to the surface. Put pen to paper and forget punctuation, spelling, or grammar. Better yet write with crayons; that old familiar feel and smell of a Crayola will bring you back to your childhood, where unharnessed creativity reigned! Writing with the opposite hand may also produce some fresh ideas; by doing so you will be accessing the opposite side of your brain.

  • Brainstorm with trusted friends and advisors: Each of these folks will have a different perspective and the whole will surely prove to be greater than the sum of the parts!

  • When all else fails: This is a good time to take your mind completely off the problem at hand. Take a vacation, go to an art museum, or walk around the block. By introducing different sights and sounds, new and unexpected ideas may spring forth. Further, pursuing these departures will allow your creative brain to take over from your left frontal lobe, which has become exhausted from “efforting”.


Please don’t hide behind the notion that you just “don’t have a creative bone in your body”. Creativity is a “muscle” we all possess; it simply needs to be developed. While instituting some of these ideas will get you started on your new regimen, you may find yourself creating better strategies all on your own!

S0lving Unsolvable Problems

by Maud Purcell

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