How to increase creativity, curiosity, and learning: An exercise

Curiosity by Flickr user jvc.jpg

Listening to podcasts, audio books, interviews and other recorded spoken materials is a great way to learn while in the car, in airports, or while doing dull work tasks. 

I love learning. I love being creative. So I really enjoyed listening to recorded Creativity in Business Telesummit (CIBT) interviews with creative leaders, hosted by my friend Michelle James of the Center for Creative Emergence. I got new insights, learned new information, infused new energy into my creative thinking, and re-invigorated my passion from listening to the stories and practices shared by these various practitioners and creativity thought leaders.

All of the CIBT sessions featured some kind of an exercise or practice the expert wanted to share on how to bring more creativity to business (in addition to lots of juicy food for thought). I want to share one of these exercises with you:

One of my favorite sessions featured Annalie Killian, who has the coolest corporate job title -- Catalyst for Magic -- at AMP, one of Australia’s most eminent Financial Services corporations. In her interview, Killian described a practice she called 'Algorithmic Brainstorming': when contemplating a new goal, or a topic she wants to write about, or a question to which she wants to figure out the answer, she gets an algorithmic 'right brain' boost from doing a Google Image search on that word, phrase, or question and seeing what comes up. She says that looking at the images that are generated by Google's algorithmic search encourages your mind to use both hemispheres of your brain to think about the idea: both the linear, logical, linguistic left brain as well as the metaphoric, imagery-based right brain. It enhances your ability to think creatively about the subject at hand and generate fresh insights.

I really like this exercise and would like to offer my slight twist on it:

I find that doing this kind of search in Flickr's Creative Commons gallery brings even richer images than Google. This is especially true if you apply a trick I learned a while back from blogger/author Tim Ferriss: click the 'Interesting' button on your search results in Flickr. (This is how I search for images for my blog and also my graphic-rich PowerPoint presentations.) Then, feast your eyes on the diverse and fascinating images that load up, page after incredible page.

The image at the top of this blog post is what I selected from a search I conducted using the word "curiosity" - one of the keys to creativity and my number one character strength according to the VIA Strengths Survey (love of learning is my #3 -- I've written about strengths here, here, and here). I looked at so many other idea-provoking images before selecting this one!

So - why don't you give it a try? Go to Google, or Flickr, and type in a key word, phrase, or question that has your attention right now. What does your 'algorithmic brainstorming' search bring up? I'd love to read about it in the comments below!

Photo by Flickr user jvc

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