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Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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Learn to Embrace Your Messy Brain

December 1, 2013, 9:00 AM
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Creative people have messy brains.  Their imaginations are messy.  Why? Because they don’t want to throw anything out.  Why don’t they want to throw anything out?  Because they believe on some level that there is always something of interest or value in whatever they encounter. 

They know enough about how mysterious and serendipitous and unpredictable the creative process is that they realize that it’s dangerous to make too hasty a judgment about the value of anything that they come across. 

People in noncreative universes have exactly the opposite relationship to information or to experiences.  They’ll see something and they’ll say is it relevant to what they're doing and if it’s not they should push it aside and focus on what they’re task is. 

If you were at Proctor & Gamble and you’re the head of Ivory soap you’re job is to sell more soap and if you get distracted by some interesting, but ultimately marginal subsidiary issue you won’t sell as much soap. That is an extreme example, but that is a world that demands focus.  If you’re a surgeon and you’re operating you cannot let your imagination wander about some idiosyncrasy of the operation.  You have to zero in. 

So I think that embracing messiness and understanding that it is a contribution to the creative process is something that writers and creative types have got to cultivate. They have to learn to be comfortable with this because it goes against a lot of our instincts and training as educated people.  

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

 

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