What blocks light bulb moments?

bulbThere are several states of being that stop light bulb moments in their tracks. I say ‘states of being’ as they are not limited to our state of mind. Light bulb moments are whole body phenomena.

The diagram below shows the main sources of blockages and also the area in our bodies in which they are mainly sited. Note that there is not only a fair bit of overlap between these sites but also a huge amount of cross-communication too.

Starting from the bottom up, if we are in a desperate state the lights are switched well and truly off. When we are in danger, the flight or fight response kicks in at the limbic centres of our brain and no amount of creativity can see the light of day. This is unless, of course, you are trained in a martial art where you have learned to control these base instincts. With just some basic training, we can indeed work inspirationally about how we handle pressure situations. The keys to becoming a master of such arts overlap considerably with the skills that conjure up light bulb moments on demand.

If you are in pain or discomfort, creativity can fly out of the window. A toothache perhaps affects an area of just a few square millimetres but it can put your whole mind in abeyance until you get it sorted. While you are in that dentist’s chair, you probably won’t be composing an opera. Somewhat ironically, if you could manage to do so, it would make the time go much faster.

Moving upwards on the diagram now, a secure environment sets the seeds for inspiration to flow. If you are in a workplace where you are underpaid (hungry for money) your creativity will be stifled. This can be exacerbated if there is a lack of recognition in your home or personal environment where you can’t share your achievements. One of the benefits of the Internet and social media is the ability to share your talents with a larger community should your local connections not recognise your genius.

Fears which we mainly store in our gut are the next causes of blockage.

If we were ever told an essay was poor by a teacher, this memory can stay with us for years. If you find someone else is getting you to write sales proposals or difficult customer emails, you can bet they had this experience at school.

Similarly, if our peers laugh at our attempt at art or music, we might never pick up an instrument or a brush again.

If you don’t try, you can’t fail so procrastination is also a marvellous success avoidance strategy. The other one is being a busy fool, perhaps starting loads of projects but never finishing any.

The two times in my life when I have been the most financially successful were co-timed with the points in my life when I was most stressed. Accordingly, fear of success has been with me for years and I have only just finally dealt with it now I am the other side of my half century.

We move now to our heart. The observant amongst you will notice these sites of imbalance and blockage are also sometimes referred to as chakra points.

If we are grieving or unloved, it is not time to start that novel. That is, of course, unless you are using the writing process as catharsis. A sad heart will reflect in your work. People who see your paintings, hear your music or read your words will pick it up in their hearts first as opposed to their heads. Again, if you want to induce this feeling, it is possible to temporarily recall that time of sadness while you are working. The ability to empathise and associate yet with detachment is the sign of a true master of their art.

We leave now the areas in our body that, for the most part, operate outside our conscious control yet that can affect us greatly. These centres evolved last in our evolution along with the ability to speak and the ability to be self-aware and think. The two are interlinked and often mimic each other. I am sure you have met someone who has to say something in order to think it through.

The very act of talking can suppress creativity, for the time we are actually speaking at least. This is especially if the thing we are talking about is of little consequence. If, however, you are an entertainer and your voice is your art, the opposite is true. The subtlety here is that any inspiration comes in on the in breath while we are not talking. The reason for this is that we speak on the out breath and there is a periodicity to the flow of creativity. Our aspirations flow on the out breath and inspirations come on the in breath or the still point between the in and the out. This flow is so subtle that is difficult to detect and tune into. Once you do though, the difference between external inspirational guidance and internal thought becomes clear.

As well as actual speech, there is self-talk. I am sure we have all been in a situation where someone is talking and we’re not listening but working out what we are going to say next. This is natural but while doing this it’s difficult to have a massively creative spurt on what to say next. It might sound counter intuitive but by truly listening to what the other person is saying, we have a better chance of replying with something erudite and off the cuff. We just have to learn to trust in the process and to trust ourselves. There is many a time when you can just listen and the other person will tell you at the end what a fabulous conversation they just had.

When we are by ourselves, we often have inner conversations. We might be rehearsing a speech or a talk or replaying a conversation where we wished we’d come up with a wittier and more incisive retort. From a light bulb moment perspective, this inner chatter – which is also referred to as the Monkey Mind – is an anathema. Later in this series, I will be showing you the arts of Whole Brain Thinking and Whole Mind Not-thinking and how to make the Monkey Mind quieten down and go for a rest.

Only when your mind is silent can the light bulb moments come in. This is of course why in the normal run of things light bulb moments occur when you aren’t expecting them. Perhaps you are driving, dreaming or in the shower when that flash of inspiration occurs. The proximity to water by the way is not coincidental.

The trick is to induce the conditions for light bulb moments to occur under your own volition. So, next in this series, I will dissect a light bulb moment and explain how it interacts with all these mind centres – all in less than a second.
P.S. if your mind is closed to all of this, this blocks external inspiration coming in via the crown

Here’s three ways to learn more about the magic of light bulb moments, how to have them on demand and how to stop those good ideas from getting away:
1. Buy the book
2. Book Tom for a live workshop
3. Book a Light Up Your Business session

Creativity Blocks #006: Lack of Talent

This is probably the trickiest of all the blocks in this this series so far that stop people being creative as it’s the most subjective.

For example, one person might love your writing, music or art and another may loathe it. The former will appreciate your talent and the the latter think you don’t possess an ounce of it.

So one simple way to boost your perception of your talent is just to find the people who like your stuff. When you do find them, watch out for sycophants and the perils of an ego that comes from having a fan base – remember it might be temporary.

When you get reviews, remember to thank people for them.

From an objective perspective, there’s a bunch of really practical things you can do to improve and hone your talent.

The first three might not normally be associated with the arts but they are as follows:

  1. to get regular exercise
  2. to eat the right things
  3. to breathe using your diaphragm

Each of these increases the nutrients reaching your brain which in turn facilitates increased interactivity between your neurons. By the way, the exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous, a brisk walk with diaphragmatic breathing is enough – this is why I recommend writers should be dog owners. And when you walk, if you can, look up not down – it makes a huge difference.

Now onto honing your talents themselves … here’s my top seven tips

  1. Practice … and then practice some more
  2. learn how to Mind Map (properly)
  3. create something each day
  4. have an Artist’s Date per week – see Julia Cameron’s Artist’s Way site
  5. when you read, see or hear something you like, spend a little thinking about what you like about it
  6. then plagarise, copy and emulate a style you like … making your own fusion along the way
  7. don’t hide your reviews away, pin them on your wall, post them on your web site, Tweet them

Finally remember the best way to hide your talent is not to create anything at all … and that your talent is a gift and natural endowment, not to be hidden under a bushel or suppressed by any of the fears in this series.

In any case, it should be remembered that these fears are only there to give us the indication that there’s something we need to tackle and embrace.

Creativity Blocks #004: Fear of Success

SpotlightThis  fear is one that can be the most debilitating. Say for example you are an author and you’ve cracked all the other fears and finished your book.

You may even have it printed and published … but maybe it’s not selling and you’re struggling to promote it … and yourself.

This is a fear that I have experienced first hand. One of the reasons I discovered about why it affected me so much was that when I was the most financially successful in my life with two businesses, this was when I was also the most stressed.

So I directly equate success with stress and used my creative mind to avoid success at all costs.

The signs that this is happening in your life are:

  • You jump on to the next project without really finishing off the last thing you were working on
  • You work on behalf of other people before you get on with your own stuff
  • You become a ‘busy fool’

And I am proud to say I have all these T-shirts.

Strategies for Getting over the Fear of Success

1. Redefine what success means to you – it doesn’t have to be about the financials and, of course, being successful without the associated stress is a success in its own right

2. Get in the habit of celebrating all milestones no matter how small and in what ever manner you feel, e.g. every review I get for my books, I proudly share on Twitter and Facebook

3. Have a listen to this short visualisation on Becoming Fear-less

Seven Ways to Block Light Bulb Moments

Before we explore how to generate light bulb moments and make them happen in your business, it is worth finding out what stops them from occurring in the first place.

In my experience, it is the culture of a business that is the key enabler here. Get it right and then creativity flows in all aspects of the business. Get it wrong and you end up with disaffected employees, staff churn, unhappy customers and a problem with the bottom line.

These are seven ways to run a business such light bulb moments are stopped in their tracks. I am sure you will have experienced one or more of these mechanisms somewhere you have worked. They are often the tactics used by inexperienced or naive managers with the aim of controlling a work force.

1. Instil a lack of security

Nobody whose job is under threat feels like being creative. This is a bit of shame as when a company’s back is against the financial wall, innovative thinking is often just what is needed.

2. Breed a climate of fear

Fear of failure and fear of ridicule are an anathema to creativity. If you come into work and are afraid of suggesting new ideas or, god forbid, that something is less than perfect, any light bulb moments you receive will never materialise.

3. Take love out of the equation

People love to love and love to be loved. We like it when someone likes us and likes what we do. Love is a word that somehow doesn’t get mentioned in business. When you love the work you though, you will never ‘work’ again.

4. Fail to communicate

Communication works two ways in successful businesses. There is a flow from the top down and the bottom up. It is the responsibility of management to get the conversations going. People like to talk and if you don’t give them something positive to talk about, the conversations will turn to gossip and back-biting.

5. Lack of vision

You would never think of driving a car blindfolded, or blindfold your passengers, yet many businesses don’t see where they are going. We need visibility to function and this vision gives perspective. We can watch for pot holes ahead and also learn from looking at where we’ve been. With this clarity, we can be inventive of about planning the route ahead.

6. Quash free thinking

As human beings, we are only able to hold one thought at any one instant. If that thought is spent rehearsing a conversation yet to be had or replaying one that didn’t go so well, our brains are tied up with internal dialogue. A still and quiet mind is a creative one and thrives when given a challenge and an opportunity in a supportive and appreciative environment.

7. Be a killjoy

This is not about dress down Fridays or Paint Ball days. It is obvious that a happy worker is a productive worker. Apparently it takes less muscular effort to smile than it does to frown. Fun places to work become sought after and hard to leave. So simply start the day with a smile …

In summary, if you build a business based on these principles, you will always struggle. Do the opposite and you will create the climate for ideas to flow freely which, in turn, lays down the foundations for success

Related Posts:

The Business of Light Bulb Moments
Light Bulb Moment on Demand service
Seven Ways to Encourage Light Bulb Moments
The Art and Science of Creativity Workshop

Creativity Blocks #001: Fear of Ridicule

There are many blocks to being in your creative flow.

Here are just some of the things that stop us in our tracks:

– these are of course all subjective perceptions and can be dealt with and removed relatively easily.
In this series of short blogs, I’ll explain a little about why and how these issues manifest and give some simple tips to get around them.

The Fear of Ridicule

This is really common. The best way to avoid being ridiculed for your creative output is not to generate anything at all. Our unconscious minds protect us from harm by inventing loads of ways for us to avoid being ridiculed.

Signs that this is happening in your life are:

  • Procrastination
  • Being a busy fool
  • Loads of half written manuscripts, unfinished sketches or musical samples

A classic trigger for this might be a teacher marking down an essay you wrote at school or you forgetting your lines in a school play. I did this in a nativity play and got demoted from Jesus to an innkeeper and then from an innkeeper to an angel without wings on the back row of the chorus.

As a knock on result, I used to have a repetitive dream of freezing as the lead guitarist on stage when playing with Pink Floyd or The Who. Since I eventually played a solo classic guitar piece at a local arts centre, the dream has not returned. When I released the audio version of my first book, I allowed that classical guitarist to come out to play.


Putting Your Head Above the Parapet

The simple way around this fear is to start creating and ‘publishing’ small bits of work and discovering that you don’t get shot down in flames.

The good news is there are loads of really good, free and supportive places online to do this.

For writers:

Your blog

Tweet a story or sample chapters on the brilliant Twimagination

Or submit your whole story to somewhere like Authonomy

Or throw all caution to the wind and just publish on Kindle Direct Publishing

I did this for my proto-novel Soulwave and the first reviews have encouraged me to dust it off and finish it …

For musicians:

Publish samples on Soundcloud

or AudioBoo – I love showcasing talented (yet shy) musicians on The Zone Show

or of course YouTube – see this Mashable blog on artists picked up on YouTube

For artists:

Post your material to TwitPic

or artist communities like the appropriately named FoundMySelf

or why not sell your art using sites like ImageKind ?

So, in summary, there has never been a better time to flex your creative muscles … so get creating and posting, you never know who might spot your nascent talent …
P.S. some of these links are blatantly self-promotional – please add your examples below and links to any sites you use !!
P.P.S. For cases of deep trauma though, these techniques might not work so do get in touch as this is what I specialise in dealing with.