Defer your judgement for creativity

Here’s betting you are like me with more work to do than time to do it. I love my great grand mother’s motto to do things right away. I just love to tick things off my to-do list. I’m always just a few tasks away from time to think about future projects. But what if that way of behaving is actually getting in my way? What if getting things done quickly is actually the worst way to do them?

A big part of the creativity course I am taking on line from the Know Innovation team is to learn to defer judgement on ideas. Let them mature, like a good red wine or a cheddar cheese. OK, maybe we’re talking hours or days, not years, though Darwin certainly took his time in decades. So, gather in those ideas without judging them. Let them have some time front and center in your brain.

In class we had to think of some ideas we might reject immediately, then let them languish like undamned souls before they were judged. We’re supposed to actually do this sort of thing, not just think about it. If you know me, you can imagine this was hard! But I’m at the Animal Behavior meetings in Albuquerque, so there are lots of talks that beg to be judged one way or the other. They are small nuggets, which allows me to defer judgement, at least some of the time.

This idea of deferring judgement also allowed me to watch my own behavior. I could see that one response to an idea I don’t like is to steer the conversation to a different topic, or to move on and talk to someone else. How about considering that every idea is worthy of some respect? How about not changing the subject, but instead staying with the idea and the person? You could have a little formula, like you ask the person three more questions about their idea, then actually listen to the answers. They might surprise you. I love the concentrated look in their eyes as they seek to explain their idea. How could you not treasure it, at least for awhile? How much more interesting is it to listen to other people’s ideas than to tell them your own!

I can see there is no place for impatience in this creativity game. You could try writing down some ideas you have deferred judgement on. Just don’t defer doing the dishes after dinner, or telephoning your mother.

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About Joan E. Strassmann

Evolutionary biologist, studies social behavior in insects & microbes, interested in education, travel, birds, tropics, nature, food; biology professor at Washington University in St. Louis
This entry was posted in New ideas, Scientific meetings. Bookmark the permalink.

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