10 Tips to Boost Creativity the Einstein Way

Ever since I was tagged a “creative” person as a kid, I’ve been drawn to the concept and study of creativity. Twyla Tharp’s the Creative Habit is one of my favorite books. I even put it in the name of my company. I recently read an article about Einstein’s perspective on creativity. He called it combinatory play.

Maria Popova phrases Einstein’s perspective like this:

“Creativity is combinatorial: Alive and awake to the world, we amass a collection of cross-disciplinary building blocks — knowledge, memories, bits of information, sparks of inspiration, and other existing ideas — that we then combine and recombine, mostly unconsciously, into something ‘new.’ From this vast and cross-disciplinary mental pool of resources beckons the infrastructure of what we call our ‘own’ ‘original’ ideas.”

It hit me like a ton of bricks that no great idea comes out of thin air. None of us can really take full credit for anything! Great ideas come from putting pieces together. Someone else’s comment here, someone else’s example there, and voila a new idea is formed that seems obvious based on putting the other two ideas together.

HSL Creative was founded after putting several ideas together. To me, it seemed like an obvious next step.

Yesterday I toured Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson. The tour guide explained that while people think of Jefferson as an inventor he was really an innovator. He took other inventions and improved them. Combinatory play at it’s finest.

Here are 10 tips to incite more combinatory play in your life. I dare you to try at least 3 this week:

1. Explore an aisle of the bookstore that you don’t usually frequent.

2. Try out a new recipe with ingredients you've never used.

3. Make plans for lunch or coffee with someone who is not in your regular circles.

4. Subscribe to BrainPickings.

5. Sit in on your library’s book club meeting.

6. Listen to a public lecture at a local college.

7.  Ask this question at the dinner table: If you didn’t have to worry about money, what would you do with your life?

8. Watch a TedTalk.

9. Read a biography of someone that interests you who you've not previously studied.

10. Post a question on your Facebook status.

I encourage you to carry a notebook (or just your notes app in your iPhone) with you throughout the week and jot down ideas that come to you. When you’re open to connecting new dots, you are likely to do just that.