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  • Creativity in the Year of the Rooster

    Kung Hai Fat Choy, Happy Chinese New Year! This month marks the start of the Year of the Rooster, or to be more precise: The Red Fire Rooster. What creative inspirations can we get from roosters, hens and young chicken to help us flourish and succeed in the coming twelve months?

    Follow the ways of the rooster

    Chinese astrology ascribes characteristics and behaviors observed in an animal to sum-up personality traits of people born in the corresponding year of the Chinese Zodiac. People born in the year of the rooster are said to be hardworking, very active and responsible. They are  social, gregarious and communicative. While they can be boastful and presumptuous, they are generally trustworthy and honest. Roosters are also praised for their punctuality and sense of timeliness.

    Inspiration: In the Year of the Rooster, do as roosters do. Work hard and be active. Make an effort to go out and socialize with other businesspeople to offer your services and help. In your communication, strive for the safe middle ground of being confident without coming across as arrogant, and  honest without coming across as blunt. If you’re a night-owl like me, experiment with rising in the wee hours as rooster do, to gauge whether an early start positively affects your life and work productivity.

    Aim for hen-like productivity

    Hens tirelessly produce eggs throughout the year. Some hens can produce over 300 eggs per year, and the world record in egg-laying stands at 371 eggs in 364 days. In other words, productive hens lay roughly one egg per day, six days a week.

    Inspiration: In the Year of the Rooster, emulate the high productivity of hens by producing a lot of outputs. Ideally, follow the output rate of egg-laying hens and produce a tangible output on six of the seven days of the week. Depending on what you do, a tangible output might be a sale that you close, a presentation you design, an article you write, an account you audit, a spreadsheet you create, or an investment that you enter into. Imagine the progress if you produced a tangible output on 300 of the next 365 days.

    Be on the lookout

    A rooster guards the nests of his hens, often from a high perch (hence the term “rooster”), and attacks other roosters that enter his territory. If he spots predators nearby, he warns the group with a special alarm call.

    Inspiration: While the turbulent Year of the Monkey has come to end, the Year of the Rooster may still be affected by a lot of market uncertainty and political and economic discontinuity. Make it a habit to regularly “sit on a high perch” to observe the wider business environment for potential dangers and risks. When you sound the alarm on imminent danger, don’t forget that opportunity hides in every difficulty.

    Incubate for ideas

    Domestic hens lay eggs only until a clutch (usually about a dozen) is complete, and then “go broody”. A broody hen sits on the nest and incubates its eggs, and rarely leaves the nest to eat, drink, or dust-bathe. At the end of the incubation period of about 21 days, fertile eggs hatch and a young chicken enters the world.

    Inspiration: Do as the hens and experiment with “incubating” ideas. Incubation is the most advanced —and most challenging— creative thinking strategy. To make the this process work its magic, you must first immerse yourself for a substantial amount of time (several weeks or months) with a creative challenge that is really important and cognitively stimulating. This may be a specific scientific or technological challenge, or a broader personal challenge you’d love to tackle (such as what you really should do in your life other than working only for the money).

    
Once you feel you’ve worked exhaustively to find “the right answer”, stop all mental striving. “Sit on” the challenge and incubate on it. Focus on something else and allow your subconscious mind to breed out the right idea. Have courage to trust in the power of the incubation process — and all of a sudden, a breakthrough idea may appear in front of your eye. If it happens, you instantly know that “this is it”, and all that is left for you to do is to verify the solution and implement the idea.

    Embrace other viewpoints

    One of the most fascinating and distinguishing features of a true rooster is his unique shout. Roosters crow in the early morning to welcome the day, but they often crow on other occasions throughout the day as well.

    Have you ever noticed how different cultures describe this sound? In my home country Germany, we hear and say “ki-keri-ki”. The Italians (chicchiricchi) and Spanish (quiquiriquí) hear a similar sound — unlike the French (Coceri-coc) and the Swedes (kuekeli-kue), as well as the Brits, Aussies, Kiwis and Americans (cock-a-doodle-do).

    How about Asia? In Thailand, the rooster goes “eg-i-eg-eg”, while the Vietnamese describe the sound as “gà gáy vang ò ó o” and the Japanese as “ko-ke-kok-ko”. In China, we find even two rooster calls: “ko-ko-ko-ko” in Southern China and “o-o-o-o” in the rest of the country. And in the Philippines, I tracked down three different rooster shouts: “tik-ti-la-ok”, “tok-to-ga-ok”, and “top-sali-o”. Given so many different names for the same sound, we may wonder: Who’s right? They all are — or aren’t, depending on your point of view.

    Inspiration: Flexibly shift your perspective. Instead of insisting on your point of view as the “absolute truth”, realize that on almost every issue, there are many alternative viewpoints. Mental flexibility and the ability to entertain other people’s viewpoints are a hallmark of a true creative mind, so become more flexible, open and emphatic in the Year of the Rooster.

    How can Thinkergy serve you in the Year of the Rooster with our expertise in creativity and innovation? Contact us let us know more about your innovation needs to explore how we may help you.

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2017. 

  • Why so afraid? Time to “human up” (Part 1)


    In recent months, I have encountered many businesspeople who somehow seemed to be afraid: afraid of making a mistake at work; afraid of failing with a project they’ve been assigned to lead; afraid of not having all details the of how an event will unfold; afraid of making decisions; afraid of standing up for their beliefs, values and convictions; afraid of harming their career; afraid of potentially losing their job. Many of the worried faces belonged to smart and seasoned business professionals who had every reason to walk and stand tall.  I started to wonder: Why are they so afraid?

    What’s behind the emotional state of being afraid? Doubts, worries and fears. In my creative leadership method Genius Journey, learning to overcome your doubts, worries and fears is the pivotal first stepping stone you need to pass to enter the realm of unlimited creativity.
    Fear is a natural response to prevent us from physical harm. But the doubts, worries and fears of modern businesspeople rarely concern physical survival, but are based on emotional and psychological dread that  takes place only in our minds. Common examples of such socially conditioned and learned fears are the fear of losing control, of social rejection (“losing face”), or of having to face the unknown. Often these fears don’t constitute a real threat now, but relate to an event imagined to possibly take place in future.

    What’s wrong with being afraid? Doubts, worries and fears stop you from producing results, from growing as a person or as a business, from reaching your full potential. They keep you small, stagnant, and limited. In order to start the journey to rediscover your genius and true potential, you need to stop your doubts, worries and fears, and start being a courageous, action-oriented and persistent believer.

    Some of you may want to argue: It’s easy to talk down to me from your point of view. Just imagine walking in my shoes: I have a family to feed. I have bills and debts to pay. I have a job to loose. I may not have enough money to retire when I am old. Can’t you see why I am so afraid?

    Well, I was once walking in shoes very similar to yours — heavy, bulky and ill-fitting shoes. When I realized who I really am and what I should really do with my life, I courageously walked away from a high-paying job in corporate banking. I’ve continued my journey on the less-trodden path — boldly and barefoot. I have never looked back.

    My new journey into the unknown was adventurous and risky, arduous and at times rocky, but also highly rewarding and wondrous. In 2005, I started the innovation company Thinkergy and embarked on a mission to create innovators. In the last decade, I didn’t make as much money as I would have in my old career, but it didn’t really matter (and it was always enough to pay the bills and live simply but comfortably). In the coming decade, I probably am going to make a lot more money in my new career, but it really doesn’t matter either.

    What matters is that in primal human style, I have courageously moved forward together with those who chose to join me on our Thinkergy journey, and we creatively deal with all opportunities and challenges that we encounter..

    How can you stop being so afraid? Human up! Commit to becoming a true human being again. Have you ever wondered how primal humans rose to the pinnacle of the evolutionary pyramid? Because of our long teeth and sharp claws? Because of our giant size and heavy weight? Because we move faster or outmuscle all others?

    Humans have become the dominant species because we think smartly and act courageously. Because we flexibly and creatively deal with dangers and challenges. Because we try things and fail, then try again until we succeed. Because we eagerly and curiously learn and grow. Because we creatively invented tools to hunt, defend ourselves and make our lives easier. Because we care and feel for others. Because we cooperate and jointly develop effective tactics and strategies to hunt prey and overcome predators and competitors.

    Humanities journey started in the African savannah with a small group of primal humans who had the curiosity and tremendous courage to explore and venture out into the unknown. They wandered lands and continents. They crossed mountain ranges and oceans. They flexibly and creatively dealt with new challenges of life in a foreign, often hostile environment. In his theory of evolution, Charles Darwin observed, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” That’s us! That’s you!

    We’re all descendants of these brave, action-oriented, curious, flexible creative primal humans who, against all odds, conquered the world. So why are you so afraid of not being able to live up to the future? How did we allow society and our institutions to condition us and turn so many of us into fearful, docile sheep — to neglect our essential nature of being bold, confident and creative?

    What can you do to bounce back? Human up! Stop down all those doubts, worries and fears in your mind. Shape up and stand up confident and tall. Go primal and reconnect to your essential core as a courageous, flexible, creative, and caring human.

    We need to “human up” quickly to ensure our species stays on top of the pyramid in view of the onset of robots and artificial intelligence. What will keep us on top is not our ability to carefully deliberate, calculate, analyze and scrutinize. It’s our courageous human core, our ability to flexibly adapt, create, cooperate, care and love.

    So how exactly can you “human up”? Come back to this column on February 16, when I will share ten tips on how to fight your doubts, worries and fears and reconnect to your essential creative core.

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2017.