Avoid These Ten Roadblocks to Creativity
By Michael Drury
MOST people are smarter than they think-on two levels smarter than they suppose themselves to be, and smarter than they habitually allow themselves to function. I don’t wholly know why this is so, but one reason may be that a disclaimer to brains has a democratic sound. It isn’t fashionable to be bright. Another reason is that people slide into disparaging their minds without realizing what they’re doing. Soon they are persuaded.
If you are determined to scuttle your own intelligence, here are ten ways to do it.
At once the arguments set in. it will never work. You have a tin ear; you’ve never been good at sports; your family will disapprove; above all, it’s a bit late in the day for making changes.
I’m not suggesting that pros and cons don’t have to be weighed. But give an idea a chance to grow; cultivate it; get some facts. You don’t trample all over a seedling and then wonder why it died.
The other side of this coin-equally ruinous to using your head-is to become a perpetual student, forever taking courses, in the delusion that someday you will know enough to begin to think on your own. Storing up information in an intellectual silo without ever using it will cause fermentation, nothing more. Both ways-starving or stuffing your mind-are delaying tactics, ways to avoid thinking.
The task is legitimate and not exactly mindless, which is why it effectively blocks your mental exercise. Nobody can think of two things at once. Tomorrow will do for using your mind, and tomorrow and tomorrow.
Two things easily defeat the would-be thinker: anger at an unresponsive public, and fear that somebody else will make a dollar. The city councilman who suggests a fund-raising scheme that is voted down, and announces that he won’t waste his energies on a new plan, is undermining his own intelligence. A man I know had a fresh idea for a new local business, but dropped it when the man willing to finance it wanted half the profits.
Writer Goodman Ace told of an amateur who once offered him a premise for a radio comedy show that Ace was producing. It was a pretty good beginning, and Ace said so, adding, “What happens next?” The other man was incredulous. “Why, I’ve given you the idea,” he said. “What more do you want?”
Nobody can do everything. When I accepted that, I felt pounds lighter and let loose to think about the things that really were my business.
Twenty years ago, a friend of mine who had had three babies tried to interest someone in pre-packaging formula in throw-away containers. After months of research with the Department of Agriculture, milk companies and chemists, she concluded that her modest brain was no match for the experts. The idea had been discarded as unworkable. Today the product is on supermarket shelves.
10. Suppose that thinking is cold and not quite human. Watch a child who has just learned to read, and you will know how false that supposition is. Your mind is your most exciting asset. The ugliest men and women can be the most attractive because of their minds. Your mind is the one thing that never grows old and never has to. Its resilience is astounding. It can lie dormant for decades and still spring forth like the morning.
I have given ten tested ways to keep this from happening. If you fail to follow them, you will find out that what I said in the beginning is true: you are smarter than you think.