Boost your creative thinking with these 3 tips from a 6 year old

Leah Andrew
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As a working mom, I like to think I know a thing or two about creative thinking.

Each day I juggle 3 kids at home, run my own business, put a healthy dinner on the table, fit in exercise, and a conversation with my partner beyond the “logistics of our life”.  I’d like to believe that creative thinking definitely comes into play.

But then I have a conversation with my thoughtful, philosophical 6 year old son. And I wonder whether I really know anything about creative thinking at all.

His thought process and creative thinking skills confound and energize me almost every day. With that in mind, here are 3 tips to help you boost your creative thinking powers inspired by 3 actual conversations we’ve had.

Tip #1: Don’t let reality slow you down

One night as I was cleaning up after dinner, my son said to me, out of the blue, “Mom, what if my life is really a dream?” This is one of those grand ‘what’s the meaning of life?’ questions that you’re not really sure how to answer. It was just so existential: “But really mom, how do I even know this is real?

When you’re brainstorming, don’t let negative, constricting thoughts get in the way.  You know them:  “well that won’t work in the real world”. Choose instead to operate in that dreamlike state where the impossible seems possible.

Tip #2: Seekout abstract connections - especially when they don’t make sense to anyone else

One morning while we were waiting for his older sister to be done swimming class he offered this gem: “Mom, I’ve been thinking. Volcanos are essentially like dragons, but with no feet.”

I admit, this one took me a few minutes to process. What an awesome observation! He didn’t let himself be bound by categories: animate or inanimate objects. He just focused on the coolest part of volcanoes and dragons – the fire (obviously) – and used his imagination to make an atypical connection.

As Steve Jobs put it:

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while."

Easy for him to say right? When you’re trying to boost your own creative thinking, write down whatever comes to your mind, without judgement. Then leave it. Go for a walk. Play with your dog. Do some exercise. Come back and take a look at what you wrote and see if there are any connections that spark.

Tip #3 - Don’t be afraid to question EVERYTHING

Another time we were in the middle of a craft project, he stopped, and thoughtfully asked: “Why is it called a RECT-angle if it’s not ‘wrecked‘?”

His question is a reminder to be relentlessly curious. When you’re struggling for new ideas, put yourself in someone else’s shoes (human or otherwise). Take a look at the situation from their point of view. What other perspectives can you consider? What does it look like from a six year old’s perspective? Or maybe a 96 year old’s? Albert Einstein, a creative thinking icon had it right when he said:

“The important thing is to not stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing."

My kids say the hardest things. And some of them are pretty savvy business tips. What tips to boost creative thinking do you use? What’s the craziest thought you’ve heard from a little person recently? Share them with us @andrewperrymktng

#creativethinking #kidssaythedarndestthings #businesstips

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