How to Become a More Creative Thinker

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Five tips for creative juggling.

To celebrate our 50th issue, Collective Hub hosted a very special event – an exclusive masterclass on creative thinking with Bradley Trevor Greive, former army paratrooper and New York Times bestselling author. After selling 30 million books in 115 countries, BTG has become a sought-after creative consultant and wildlife conservationist (his discovery of a new Alaskan brown bear subspecies will be showcased in an Animal Planet documentary). Here he shares his top tips for creative juggling.

1. Observe, then serve

Professional creativity is, at its most basic, rearranging existing matter and ideas into exciting new relationships. Being able to see things no-one else can, and visualising new connections others miss, are a direct result of considering them carefully and appreciating them for what they are. Practising gratitude is a great way to do this – it helps you see the world in a way that others don’t.

2. Build your wolf pack

I once thought that becoming an elite creative professional meant doing everything on my own, and that being a lone-wolf creator was cool… Then I started observing actual wolves in Alaska and Canada, and found that lone wolves were generally gaunt, mangy, desperate losers with bad attitudes, that no other wolves wanted to mate with. The notion of the ‘auteur’ in any creative field is a complete myth – whether you admit it or not, you’re always part of a creative team, so it makes sense to build the best possible team you can.

3. Avoid sea-cucumber survival mode

When attacked or experiencing great stress, certain sea cucumbers have the remarkable ability to alter the state of the collagen in their bodies so they transform into an almost transparent liquid, and essentially vanish. It would be a cool survival trick, except that most of the animal dies and then has to start over by regrowing from a few surviving cells. We all have good days and bad, but to avoid a complete meltdown, it’s so important to not get exhausted and end up feeling overwhelmed. An investment in your health is an investment in your creative potential.

4. In praise of idleness

I once ‘rescued’ a sloth I thought was drowning in the Amazon River – but it turned out the sloth was just swimming in a leisurely manner to find a new boyfriend, and I was an intrusive moron who needed to slow down to get a better sense of what was really going on. When you’re trying to cook up genius, taking time to assess the situation before diving in is always the secret ingredient.

5. Dream, think, do

Even at the highest level, the creative process is incredibly simple: dream up new ideas; carefully think through your execution plan; then do it. Clever people talk a good game, but great people don’t waste their time with games at all – they just get things done. As I often tell myself, in the end you will be judged by your accomplishments and not by your dreams but, without dreams, you’ll accomplish nothing.

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