‘Be creative like a child” – I have heard people say this at least a dozen times (and the variations too: let’s think like a child, let’s be playful etc etc) during various sessions. This is a popular approach to overcome the logical barrier while Ideating (i.e. when you try to come up with new ideas, the logical mind says ‘shut up, that’s a stupid thing to say’. Children don’t’ seem to suffer from this, because probably they haven’t learnt enough). The moment the facilitator says “C’mon guys, be like a child’, there is definitely a change in the environment. And you see some interesting and sometimes foolish-looking ideas do come up.
But I have always felt that such sessions lacked something; probably some liveliness… Though the ‘children’ symbol seems to help, it was sort of forced and artificial. And I believe this is the reason we do not get quality ideas many times.
A simple incident yesterday showed me what the problem was. You could behave like a child externally, but can you adopt that peace, love and simplicity too? They bring the grace, beauty and creativity to children spontaneously.
Here is the story:
Yesterday, when I was going out, my little daughter wanted me to get her a chocolate, her favorite one.
When I was back home (of course with the chocolate), she was playing with her friend in the living room. The moment I entered, she ran up to me demanding the chocolate. But because the other girl was not supposed to eat chocolates, I didn’t want to give it. I told her – see I cannot give you the chocolate now. When you have finished playing and your friend goes back, you can have it. Not now. I proceeded to my room for freshening up, ignoring her protests.
I could distinctly hear the two girls talking. Though I couldn’t well hear, I could sense that my daughter was trying to persuade her friend to leave, which she was not willing to. There was silence after a while.
I had just begun to shave; my daughter appeared at the door, and stood leaning on the doorframe. I gave her a questioning look.
She tells: “I know a secret” (trying hard to make it sound interesting)
“But I will tell you only if you give me the chocolate”
I give her another smile.
Few moments pass. She says almost in a whispering tone : “ The secret is about you”
She should have been looking at me intently trying to sense if I am ready for the deal.
I looked at her and gave a ‘don’t try these tricks with me’ grin.
Few more moments pass.
She says: “The secret has something good about you…”
At this point, I burst out laughing (If I had not, she might have kept building on the story further to lure me). I gave her the chocolate and had to convince her friend to settle for a candy.
The beauty of the incident touched me deeply and made me feel so light. The creativity was so spantaneous and had a grace and profound simplicity. There was no technique, process, gimmik, frills, just pure creativity.
This is what was going wrong in ‘becoming creative like a child’. What we do not adopt is the beauty that lies within – the peace, the simplicity, love and purity. In this world, we are just concerned about the ends, not means.