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Tuesday, 30 April 2002 17:00

Exercise your creativity muscle

Written by Tom Franklin

"Failure to flex our imaginative muscles is as deplorable as breaking down our physical strength through lack of proper exercise." -- Walt E. Disney 

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Do you have, or have you ever had a pet? If you've had a pet cat, you know your cat needed a scratching pole or something to scratch at or it would start tearing up your couch or curtains. If you've had a pet dog, you know your dog needed something to chew on, or it would start chewing on your shoes or something equally annoying.

Cats' primary survival tool, or weapon, is their claws. Dogs rely on their teeth and biting power to survive. To strengthen these "survival tools," they instinctively know they have to exercise them, and so cats need to exercise their claws regularly, and dogs must exercise their jaws and teeth. Smart pet owners provide facilities for their animals to practice their survival skills. Even though their survival needs are mainly provided for them, you can't fight Mother Nature. Instinctive needs must be filled

The human survival tool

Humans also have a primary "survival tool" that must be exercised regularly or it will atrophy (waste away; wither; dry up). The actual organ is the brain, but the specific function that makes it a survival weapon is its creative, problem-solving ability. Even though physically vulnerable to many beasts of the jungle, Mankind is able to conquer them with creative ideas. Spears, knives, guns, bombs, nets, walls, cages and chemical solutions have all been created by the mind of Man to gain an advantage and power over the threatening elements of life, including other humans. They have made Man master of most other living things (except for a few tiny viruses).

The need to "exercise" the mind muscle

The most powerful enemy which successfully prevents the human individual from achieving mastery over his or her personal and business life, is laziness, and in particular, mental laziness. Given the opportunity to lay idle in the sun on the beach, occasionally picking a low-hanging banana, most humans are very much like their pet monkeys, cats or dogs. If we weren't trained early-on to accept society's expectations that we should study, marry, work and raise families, we might very well choose to just lie in the sun and do the absolute minimum needed to survive.

Most of our domesticated pets no longer have the fighting skills needed to survive out in the jungle. And many of us humans have long ago accepted a life routine which requires very little in the way of creative problem-solving, beyond that which is minimally necessary to keep a job or operate a business slightly above the break-even point.

To move beyond this minimal level of survival, it is essential to exercise and strengthen that most powerful of all human advantages: the creative, problem-solving mind!

The price of not exercising the muscle

I spoke earlier of the consequences of not providing your pets with an opportunity to exercise their clawing, biting or chewing skills in a way that doesn't destroy your valuable property. Humans also practice using their creative muscles in a destructive way when a constructive alternative is not provided or conceived of. Young cats, dogs and horses claw, bite or kick more than old ones. Young humans also kick-up their creative heels more than old ones. We see the effects of their unchannelled creative efforts in graffiti, pierced body parts, tatoos and destructive pranks or crimes.

When children reach the age where their problem-solving urges begin to grow rapidly, they immediately begin to create problems and chaos all around them to give themselves a chance to test and exercise their creative muscles. When humans do not have a constructive problem to solve, they will generally create problems unconsciously for themselves. The instinct to have a problem to solve, to exercise the mind weapon/tool, is as powerful as the cat's need to claw and the dog's need to bite and chew.

Taking on a larger scope leads to larger rewards

The scope of the problems one creates are generally determined by the scope of activity one has taken on. If all of your efforts are limited to the inner workings of your shop, then most of the problems you encounter will be within that shop, focused on employees, equipment, processes, parts, collections and paper-work.

By taking on the larger problems of involvement of your business in the community around you, trade organizations, networking groups, and potential corporate customers, you expand the scope within which you can create solutions to problems. The problems you encounter will be larger, but they will lead to greater growth and creative strength. And the solutions that come from those activities will be infinitely more profitable for you!


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