Where do ideas come from?

I’ve always been curious why some people solve problems more creatively than others. Is creativity written into our genetic code like eye color or height or is it developed only when nurtured? After all, children are naturally very creative. Their imaginations propel ideas and that curiosity is what allows them to see the world with infinite possibilities.

According to Sir Ken Robinson, society educates people out of this creativity over time. Many people stop exploring and using their imaginations because the thing that they enjoyed as a child is stigmatized. He says, “We progressively educate people from the waist up, and then slightly to one side.” We are taught that being right is more important than being original.

In fact, creativity has often been associated with mental illness. Consider that the most creative geniuses and influential leaders throughout time (from Vincent Van Gogh, Beethoven, Mozart, Charles Dickens, Ralph Emerson, Abraham Lincoln and the list goes on) have all been associated with mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder. Does this imply that their extraordinary ability to generate original ideas is perhaps a byproduct of a child-like emotional range? I wonder if the ability to tap into emotion is an important link to accessing creative thought, and also the reason why this is so rare and taboo in business.

study by Psychology professors at Drexel and Northwestern Universities reveals that the brain activity in creative and non-creative problem solvers is very different. This pattern is true, even at rest. Those who have “Aha Moments” of solving problems vs. those who think more methodically to solve issues actively use different parts of the brain. This suggests that we must have the ability to access a part of the brain for creativity. I wonder if this block happens either by the slow conformity to social norms over time or by genetic predisposition. Perhaps our fear of being wrong or the desire to be normal overshadows our human capacity for innovative and creative reasoning.

No matter if it is nature or nurture, I can’t think of a more important time for credit unions to think and solve problems creatively. {With squeezed margins, a tough economy, and more challenges than ever before, we need new light and new ideas wherever they may come from.}


About giraphcu

Greetings and salutations! Welcome to gira{ph}, a strategic marketing firm that helps credit unions amplify their greatness to create chemistry with consumers. The credit union movement has given so much to us. This is our way of giving back. Enjoy!
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