Tag Archives: bigideas

How Do We Become Creative?

I’ve been thinking about creativity all day today.  I had a hard time coming up with a title for this blog.

Should I have called it “Creative People” and listed the accomplishments of the most amazing people I could find, or should I have said  “On Being Creative”….kind of existential…. or should I have asked “What is Creativity?” and gone into a lengthy dictionary style definition?

In the end, I decided to ask, “How Do We Become Creative?”  Are we born creative?  Is it something we can learn?  Certainly I think we can point to a genetic origin.  If we didn’t have creative ways of coping with our environment, we might not have survived as a species.  But as we evolved, we learned from trial and error, and creativity became a learned activity. 

You might wonder why I’m concerned with creativity.  I should hope you are too.  If it were not for creative minds, we would have no progress, no invention, no future to look forward to.

So, how do you become creative?  Start by observing everything….from the commonplace to the exotic.  Ask yourself where the idea came from.  Take the time to trace it’s origin.

As you look at items or concepts, you might ask, “Was it’s purpose to solve a problem?”   “Was it developed to entertain?”  Might it be used in a different way than originally intended?  Look around the room right now.  As you look at each item, don’t you wonder why someone made it?  Did it exist 100 years ago?  Will it exist 100 years from now?  What might replace it 1000 years from now?  Let your mind explore the possibilities!

Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself here, but as we think about creative ideas, do you keep some ideas and toss others based on a cost/benefit analysis?  If we think too hard, we may have never had skateboards or hula-hoops!  Some things just need to be created….we’ll think about the details later!

My challenge for you today is to look at everything with a creative eye.  From processes and routines, to products you use 24/7…. and give yourself permission to consider alternatives, different combinations, or a totally new idea.  Ask “Why”….or ask “Why Not?” 

Exercise your creativity….the future depends on it!


Musings from Tom Burns, Seller of things essential to life as we know it….




Ve Get Too Soon Oldt, Undt Too Late Schmart!


Lame excuse if you ask me!  It’s never too late to learn something new!  Pick up a book, better yet, several books, and start reading.  Read until you lose interest and then pick up another book. Read books with very short chapters.  Here is a fantastic pick:


Subscribe to Brain Pickings.  http://www.brainpickings.org/  This newsletter comes to your inbox every Sunday morning.  I’ve discovered so many interesting tidbits here, from art, to science and philosophy, writing and entertainment!

Another source of “smarts” is http://bigthink.com/  This site could keep you busy for days!  One subject leads to another, one path of investigation takes you in a new direction, and before you know it, you’ve stayed up past midnight….again!  

From the title page:



We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at ourfingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World OrderEarth and Beyond21st Century LivingGoing MentalExtreme BiologyPower and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Oh, and don’t forget Google!  Here is a fantastic course on how to use google.  Take it slowly, do the exercises, take notes—you will be AMAZED at what google can do for you!  http://insidesearch.blogspot.com/2012/09/power-searching-with-google-is-back….

So, don’t get old, GET SMART!  I did!


By Tom Burns, Seller of things essential to life as we know it….