Monday, May 30, 2016

Change Your Life: [Pursue Your [Passion] will Move Men Beyond Themselves]

Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, sold something more than computers and gadgets. He sold emotion and passion. When he first presented the iPad to the world, he repeatedly said, “It’s just so amazing to hold.” There was obviously a genuine love for the product, a real passion for what his company had created.

Once, Jobs was fired from the company he started, and he considered leaving Silicon Valley forever. However, he realized that, though he had been rejected, he still loved what he did, and he started over – this time with NeXT and Pixar, with the latter becoming a tremendous success.

Even if we have no aspiration to become the next high-tech megastar, we can all learn from the way Steve Jobs lived his life. In 2005, when he delivered the commencement speech at Stanford University, he shared some invaluable advice with the young graduates: “You time is limited, so don’t spend it living someone else’s life… have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

Pursuing your passions may or may not lead to material or public success; however, regardless of external success, life is short, and finding small ways to express your inner, authentic voice at work, at home, or with your friends is perhaps the most important thing you can do for yourself and the world.

Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Here's to the Crazy Ones, the Unreasonable People

When Steve Jobs launched Apple’s iconic “Think Different” marketing campaign in 1997, it was clearly a reflection of his own philosophy and ideals. He praised “the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently.” Nobody would disagree that Jobs himself personified this category, along with the famous individuals who were featured in Apple’s ads, such as Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King Jr., Sir Richard Branson, John Lennon, Thomas Edison, Ted Turner, Mahatma Gandhi, Amelia Earhart, Martha Graham, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Pablo Picasso.

By their nature, radical innovators tend to be contrarians, heretics, revolutionaries. They are forever discontent with the status quo. They are people who challenge conventional thinking, who show no respect for rules, or precedent, or popular opinion, and who never accept “can’t be done.” They dare to defy the deepest-held dogmas, dispute the most established industry practices, and trash the proudest of institutional legacies. Where everyone else seems content to “zig,” they feel compelled to “zag” – to swim against the mainstream, contradict prevailing wisdom, break the accepted patterns, slaughter the sacred cows, question the unquestionable, fix things that “ain’t broke,” turn the seemingly impossible into the possible, and, well… to simply “think different.”

Innovators are not satisfied just playing the game. They have an irresistible itch to rethink it, to change it, to improve it. Or to invent an entirely new game. They are, as George Bernard Shaw once explained, unreasonable people. Shaw argued that “the reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” Rather than conform to the existing patterns of the world, innovators can intuitively see what is wrong with those patterns – where others cannot – and they instinctively want to put them right, or to replace them with their own patterns. They quite literally want to change the world.

In a 1994 interview conducted by the Silicon Valley Historical Association, Steve Jobs said the following: “When you grow up, you tend to get told the world is the way it is, and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much… That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact, and that it – everything around you that you call ‘life’… you can change it, you can influence it… you can mould it. That’s maybe the most important thing. It’s to shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just going to live in it, verses embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it… Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”

Jobs summed it up very well. Innovators don’t just accept that “the world is the way it is.” They are always driven to reshape it into the way they envision it could be. Innovators behave exactly as those “Think Different” ads said they do: “They invent. They imagine… They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward. Maybe they have to be crazy… Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

Monday, May 16, 2016

Let Children be Children: 6 Common Creative Killers

Many parents try to be perfect, but sometimes their best intentions can backfire without them even realizing it. Based on Victoria Wilson’s book Boost Your Child’s Creativity (2010), here are 6 common habits which can stifle child’s desire and ability to be creative:

Creative Killer #1: Helping

Young children often find it frustrating when they are learning something new. They can’t quite work out how to make their tree look right, or they hold the pen the wrong way up. But it pays dividends to sit back and let them carry on with whatever they are trying to do. If you insist on showing them exactly how to draw a tree, you’re denying them the opportunity to find their own way of drawing it, and to experiment and learn things on their own. You’re also inadvertently setting them up for failure – their tree isn’t going to be as good as yours, they are not going to be able to use pen as easily as you. This can make them feel even more frustrated. Your child will only gain confidence if you give them the opportunity to prove to themselves they can do somethings without your help.

Creative Killer #2: The Wrong Toys

Most houses have them, they toys with bright colours, flashing lights, a variety of songs and perhaps some Beethoven to help them learn the alphabet. Toys like these are fun, and have their benefits, but in terms of encouraging your child to be imaginative, they are creativity killers. Children really do stretch their imaginations further if they are making up their own songs, or playing with a cardboard cut-out sword rather than a flashing light sabre.

Creative Killer #3: Deciding What is Right and Wrong

 By telling a child the ‘right’ way to paint the rainbow, or that it’s ‘wrong’ when they bang all the keys on the piano at once, you are limiting your child’s early experiments. Picasso’s cubist artwork did not fit with the aesthetic standards of conventional art at the time and modern classical music might seem out of key and harsh to most listeners. Yet art and music critics have come to applaud these expressions of creativity which fall outside the norm by conventional standards. Creativity is all about thinking outside the normal rules and dreaming up new ways of doing things. This is exactly what your child is doing when he draws the world upside down or when she colours the sea pink.

Creative Killer #4: Planning Their Time

Children definitely need routine and structure in their day, but do be wary of planning your child’s time too rigidly. Try to allow time each day for ‘unstructured play’ where your child can choose his or her own activities freely and, where possible, be a little flexible in cancelling other scheduled activities if your child is really involved in what they are doing. If your child is thoroughly absorbed, they are probably contented and learning a good deal.

Creative Killer #5: Right Answer Syndrome

Children love to do things well and win approval, but beware of cultivating a need in your child to get things ‘right.’ One of the key traits of creative people is that they are good at ‘divergent thinking’, which means they can suggest lots of different potential answers of solutions to a puzzle or question. Of course, sometimes there is only one right answer. But try to present your child with situations and tests where they can learn that sometimes there are lots of different correct answers, and that different people’s responses are all equally valid.

Creative Killer #6: Competition

There is fierce debate amongst the educationalists about whether competition is good for children. When it comes to creativity, however, studies such as those by Professor Teresa Amabile at Brandeis University suggest that competition can negatively influence creativity. Competition automatically infers that judgement is being made over the creative product, which can make the child less willing to take risks and be inventive. In addition, Amabile and many other psychologists argue that children should be encouraged to enjoy creativity simply because it is an enjoyable and fulfilling process, not as a means to win contests or rewards. Much research suggests that rewarding a child simply for doing something creative eventually lessens their interest in doing creative activities for which they are not rewarded.

Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

Beware: Multitasking Will Decrease Your Productivity

A study at The British Institute of Psychiatry showed checking your email while performing another creative task decreases your IQ in the moment by 10 points. This decrease is the equivalent of the effects from not sleeping for 36 hours – and exhibits more than twice the impact of smoking marijuana.

In a study of 1,000 of its employees, Basex, an information-technology research firm, found striking data showcasing inefficiency. It was determined that 2.1 hours per day is lost to interruptions. This figure indicates over 26 percent of the average workday is wasted due to multitasking and unwanted interruptions. Jordan Grafman, chief of the cognitive neuroscience section at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes, explains, “There’s substantial literature on how the brain handles multitasking. And basically, it doesn’t… what’s really going on is a rapid toggling among tasks rather than simultaneous processing.”

Another study, conducted by professors at the University of California, observed the workflow and time-on-task of employees at two high-tech corporations. They discovered that the employees only spent an average of 11 minutes before being interrupted or having to move on to something else. It then took them 25 minutes to work their way back to their original task.

If you are constantly being interrupted by fellow employees, instant messages, or phone calls, reserve a small conference room for a little bit of time, grab your laptop, and crank away,” write Erik Qualman, author of Digital Leader. “If you are at your home go to a local coffee house or a park with your laptop and tablet. Another trick is to wear your phone’s headset or earbuds even when you aren’t on a call as people will be less likely to interrupt you.” The truth is: Multitasking actually leads to less productivity and efficiency.

Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

Monday, May 9, 2016

How to Nurture Your Child to Be Creative #7 Make Them Feel Safe

The emotional stability of the world we create for children will have a huge effect on how creative they are. Long-standing research reveals children need emotional stability before they begin to express themselves.

In his classic work, psychologist Abraham Maslow set out what is termed as a Hierarchy of Needs. His theory is generally illustrated as a pyramid, setting out the different kinds of needs people must meet before they can move up to the next level. At the very bottom, we must meet our physical needs – to be warm, fed and safe. Moving up the pyramid, we then have to meet our basic psychological needs – to be loved, and have a sense of belonging and to feel confident. Only when all of these needs are met, according to Maslow, can we begin to be creative, spontaneous and solve problems.

Making sure children are warm, fed, safe and loved is something that most parents do as a matter of course. But by doing these things, and by paying careful attention to your child when they seem anxious and doing your best to reassure them that they are safe and protected, you are instinctively playing a huge part in nurturing their creativity!

Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

How to Nurture Your Child to Be Creative #6 Respect Their Privacy

Just as the thought of showing someone a piece of creative writing, or sharing an unusual idea might make us a little nervous; sharing new ideas and thoughts can feel a little frightening for children too. This is especially true in their early years when they are still very much dependent on the approval of adults around them.

While they are working on something new, children need time and private space where they can make mistakes and try new things without any risk of their efforts being judged, until they are ready to show you.  And when they do, it is important how you react.

At its heart, creativity of any kind is an intensely personal expression. It reveals that this is something the person has spent time and energy thinking about, that this is something important for them. Inevitably, it is an expression of the effort, talent and ability that went into it. If you want to encourage creativity, it is important that a child is given private time and space to play and experiment with their expression, without the risk of ridicule or disinterested dismissal.

Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

How to Nurture Your Child to Be Creative #5 Praise the Process, Not the Results

If your child runs to you proudly presenting a new painting or model they’ve made, it’s any parent’s natural instinct to offer praise. However, over-enthusiastic praise can be unhelpful. Studies carried out by psychologist Professor Wulf-Uwe Meyer from the University of Bielefeld, Germany, reveal that from a very young age children are very cynical about whether praise is genuine or not. His studies found that by the time they reach primary school, children can become cynical to the point where they no longer really believe any praise and therefore truly genuine appreciation begins to lose its value.

So, it is vital to focus on praising the creative process rather than the creative product. Well respected studies by psychologist Dr. Carol Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, suggest that we should take care to praise the effort and the process of doing the work, rather than commenting on the results. This will help your child understand that their creative work will become better with practise. “For example, tell them you really love the colours they chose in this painting, or that you know how hard they worked on their guitar practice to make that song sound so beautiful,” says Dweck. Dweck also revealed that if you focus on praising the process in a sensitive yet honest way, your child is far more likely to feel confident in the creative work they do, to recover (more quickly) from setbacks and better enjoy what they are doing. “Ultimately the way you praise doesn’t just affect how confident your child is,” says Dweck, “but also how intelligent or skilled they will become.”

Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

How to Nurture Your Child to Be Creative #4 Don't Help Too Much

It is important to balance the need to teach with the need sometimes to step back and let children simply get on with what they are doing. There are times when they do need to be taught a technical skill so they can broaden their skills and try new things, for example, how to use safety scissors to cut paper. But the key crime of parents in stifling creativity is to step in and interfere when it is not necessary.

You might feel frustrated that your child can’t quite get the hang of painting in separate colours yet and insists on mixing all the paints into the same sludgy brown shade. But aside from the fact that is it their picture and not yours, they learn from mixing up those colours; that blue + yellow = green; green + red = brown, even if the end of the experimental splattering is the inevitable mossy brown smudge all over the page.

Children need to experiment. And sometimes when they do it ‘wrong,’ they come up with things that are surprising, delightful and truly inventive. Do you know? Chips, Frisbees and Post-It notes were created as the result of ‘mistakes.’ Sometimes getting things wrong can lead to brilliant inventions. So, don’t help your child too much.

Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

How to Nurture Your Child to Be Creative #3 Don't Impose Unnecessary Rules

We all need some rules of course. Rules help to keep children safe and teach them how to behave in a considerate and thoughtful way. Many parents, however, instinctively impose rules on children which aren’t strictly necessary, and when it comes to fostering creativity, it is vital to carefully consider rules before you impose them.

For example, a classic rule which stifles children’s creativity is that they must colour in between the lines. It is a good rule if you’re trying to teach fine motor skills and encourage your child to follow instructions carefully, but when it comes to encouraging them to express themselves and ‘think outside the box,’ it quite literally reins in their natural creativity. Sometimes the rules we set can inadvertently impose our judgments on whether a creative effort is ‘good’ or not. At other times, we impose unnecessary limits which restrict a child from really letting go and experimenting freely with the new materials and inventive techniques. Rules are good (“Don’t play on the road”) but don’t impose unnecessary rules (“The sky must be coloured in blue”).

Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

Monday, May 2, 2016

How to Nurture Your Child to Be Creative #2 Let Them Decide Where to Play

When I think of where parents normally carry out creative activities with their children, the usual choice is to let them sit up at the table. For some activities this is sensible, it’s difficult to glue, for example, if you are on the floor. But, if you think about where your child chooses to play most of the time, you quickly realize that preschool children often prefer to play on the floor rather than at the table (At least, I do). Not only is it more comfortable for them, but younger babies especially develop muscles and motor skills which help them to look up, roll and sit with improved posture when they are allowed to play on the floor.

Your child may often prefer to play outside too. Obviously this does depend on the whether to some extent, but there’s no doubt that the sights, sounds, smells and textures of the natural world provide wonderful stimuli to encourage creativity in your child.

Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

How to Nurture Your Child to Be Creative #1 Let Them Lead the Play

Latest research suggests that although it’s good for us to provide interesting objects and materials for children to play with, and to be on hand to help and play with your child, your child will be happier and more creative if you allow time for unstructured play – in other words, you sometimes need to take a step back and let your child decide what they want to do.

Your child will need access to resources to encourage play and so it is a good idea to set out several different toys and materials (paper plates, paints, glitter, Lego, etc.) which they can use as and when they wish during their playtime. Because they have initiated the play, they will be more actively engaged in whatever activity they are doing and as a result, they will learn more from it.

Allowing your child to lead their own play is not the easy option. Painting and crafts can certainly be messy and after all your careful preparation you may find you child is more interested in playing with teddy bears. This can be very frustrating, however, remember that your child is going to be more creative if they are making more choices about how they use the resources they’re provided with.

Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

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