Jun
24

The P.T.S. Mindset

To become more creative individually and to foster more innovative workplaces and communities, we need to develop a whole new set of skills that have not been part of our formal education. Actually, skills are not quite enough. Creativity requires something else–a shift in attitude or, as I prefer, mindset–that also needs to be practiced and learned. It is this mix of mindset and skills that make up the 3 creativity competencies I’ve been discussing in my Innovation on my Mind blog, Fluency, Flexibility and Originality. And, if you’ve ever taken a workshop with me, you know that the most essential mindset for creativity is P.T.S.

If you don’t know what P.T.S. is, try not to peek below and let me ask you as I do my workshop participants: What do you need, right now, in order to be your most creative? What ground rules would increase your chances of feeling most creatively comfortable and able to generate new ideas and make unusual connections? Just for fun, use the three letters given, P-T-S, to come up with three words that would best convey suggestions or conditions that would be most optimal for your creativity to shine. Come up with lots of possibilities, using individual words or a 3-word-phrase. Let’s start with 2.

P_____________ T_______________ S_______________

P_____________ T_______________ S_______________

Like any creativity exercise, this one has no right answers and actually hearing what different people come up with helps everyone think more freely. Perhaps we’ll get: Personal…Thoughtful…Shockworthy or Play…Trust…Safe or Pretend…Thought…System or People…That…Sing. Some people will have trouble coming up with any–which is instructive in itself. Really the question I’m asking is: what do you need so you are not blocked, so that you can fully turn on your faucet of ideas?

Creativity, you see, happens in the moment. Usually when it comes to sharing ideas and asserting our own perspective, the mindset in the moment that trumps all others is: How do I look smart, clever, right? That’s how we’ve been trained, even when we’re all alone not even thinking about impressing others. Unfortunately this is not the mindset for divergent thinking, the real engine of creativity. It’s too often the mindset for paralysis or very safe ideas.

So what I’ve learned after teaching and facilitating creativity for more than 20 years is that the most effective ground rule for allowing us to turn on that creative faucet is this particular P.T.S.: Permission…to…Suck. That’s it. Giving yourself full permission to suck. It’s a different mindset, one that allows you to turn on the faucet of your ideas without editing, blocking or judging. Once you give yourself permission to suck–to be wrong, lousy, idiotic, rude–everything changes, everything opens in a way it would not otherwise.

Now of course you don’t want to be bad all the time, but the most creative people know how to access this P.T.S. mindset and to appreciate how bad they can be. “It’s good to be bad,” knows the most enlightened creative, because that way you access possibilities that you otherwise would dismiss. And, it turns out, sucking is harder than you think. Try to come up with bad ideas and here’s what you’ll find: More intriguing, provocative ideas that make you go hmmm–exactly what you need to foster a culture of change, imagination and possibility.

So, Klondike of the Frozen Archipelagos, Madame Curie of the Swine Flu Media Sneeze, Mr. Steroid of the Atrophying Mind Muscle–unfry your chimichanga and give yourself P.T.S. more often and see what happens.

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