Using the creative arts to gain insight and ideas

KAWA 1 jen GashIf the word “creative” brings you out in hives, a cold sweat or just turns you off, please think again. I’m not going to encourage you to splodge paint randomly, with the vague hope of claiming it “abstract art”. This isn’t about trying to religiously draw the potted plant in front of you, feeling a failure if it isn’t an exact copy. This isn’t about those “team away-days” where you really wonder why you are making “cupcakes”. And this isn’t about becoming an artist.

Arts based approaches have long been used in business and health services for their ability to shift mind sets, enable new thinking and promote wellbeing.

We use creative arts, including painting, poetry, writing, origami and other art forms to:

– awaken the senses

– sharpen intuition

– shift habitual thinking

– gain perspective and new insights

– notice what’s not there as well as what might be!

“The poet William Blake claimed that the imagination is our highest faculty and central to our perception and experience of reality. More than two hundred years later, scientific research on the brain and creativity confirms the great poet’s insight”  (Frank Faulk)

We use such a small percentage of our brain, typically the left hemisphere and probably over-use the Executive System in our brain, which is used to plan, execute and moderate. I say over-use, because our education system, training approaches, socialisation at home etc. all encourage us to think, plan, reduce risk, reason and logic.

I’m not underestimating the importance of this, but we need to use our “whole brain” if we are to create innovative ideas, products and businesses (In fact, using our creativity and right brain more often, actually increases the performance of our left brain as well).

Do you know when new ideas mostly appear? It’s usually whilst we take a shower, are in the shed making something or whilst we take a walk. There is a great example given by musician Tom Waits who notes the untimely arrival of an idea:

“Excuse me, can’t you see that I’m driving? Do I look like I can I write down a song right now? Come back at a more opportune moment when I can take care of you.”

But perhaps we can create an environment which encourages new ideas and enables new insights to appear?

I often use Emergent Knowledge coaching techniques, to gain fresh insight into a particular challenge, goal or process. Creative arts enable the same to happen, just in a different way.

Using a creative arts approach and combining it with a coaching approach, we can weave together right brain ideas with left brain evaluation, planning and process. This gives us the best of both world and is hugely powerful.

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