How To Think and Dream Creatively
Propose one of the ideas below to someone and then watch his behavior.
1) The postal system, long a government monopoly, should be turned over to private enterprise.
2) Presidential elections should be held every two or six years instead of four.
3) Regular hours for retail stores should be 1 P.M. to 8 P.M., instead of 9 A.M. to 5:30 P.M.
4) The retirement age should be raised to seventy.
Whether these ideas are sound or practical is not the point. What is significant is how a person handles propositions like these. If he laughs at the idea and doesn’t give it a second thought (and probably 95 percent will laugh at it) chances are he suffers from traditional paralysis. But the one in twenty who says, “That’s an interesting idea; tell me more about it,” has a mind that’s turned to creativity.
Traditional thinking is personal enemy number one for the person who is interested in a creative personal success program. Traditional thinking freezes your mind, blocks your progress, and prevents you from developing creative power.
Here are three ways to fight it:
1) Become receptive to ideas. Welcome new ideas. Destroy these thought repellents: “Won’t work,” “Can’t be done,” “It’s useless,” and “It’s stupid.”
A very successful friend of mine who holds a major position with an insurance company said to me, “I don’t pretend to be the smartest guy in the business. But I think I am the best sponge in the insurance industry. I make it a point to soak up all the good ideas I can.”
2) Be an experimental person. Break up fixed routines. Expose yourself to new restaurants, new books, new theaters, new friends; take a different route to work someday, take a different vacation this year, do something new and different this weekend.
If your work is in distribution, develop an interest in production, accounting, finance, and the other elements of business. This gives you breadth and prepares you for larger responsibilities.
3) Be progressive, not regressive. Not “That’s the way we did it where I used to work, so we ought to do it that way here” but “How can we do it better than we did it where I used to work?” Not backward, regressive thinking but forward, progressive thinking. Because you got up at 5:30 A.M. to deliver papers or milk the cows when you were a youngster doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good idea for you to require your children to do the same.
Imagine what would happen to the Ford Motor Company if its management allowed itself to think, “This year we’ve built the ultimate in automobiles. Further improvement is impossible. Therefore, all experimental engineering and designing activities and hereby permanently terminated.” Even the mammoth Ford Motor Company would shrivel fast with this attitude.
Successful people, like successful businesses, live with these questions:
How can I improve the quality of my performance?
How can I do better?