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Creative Flow

Time slows down. Self vanishes. Action and Awareness merge. Welcome to Flow.” Steven Kotler

  • “Flow creates powerful intrinsic motivation – by releasing the most addictive neurochemicals in our bodies.
  • Flow cuts the path to mastery (aka 10,000 hours) in half and accelerates performance up to 500%.
  • People with the most flow in their lives are the happiest people on earth.”

Harvard’s Teresa Amiable discovered that not only are people more creative in flow, they also report being more creative the day after a flow state—suggesting that flow doesn’t just heighten creativity in the moment, it heightens it over the long haul. In other words, being in flow actually trains us to be more creative.”

(Flow Genome Project)

“Nobel-Prize winning neuroscientist Eric Kandel says that the brain is a creative machine. It appears that the quantity and diversity of our ideas are mediated by the front lobes, right behind your forehead. Preliminary brain research by Charles Limb at John Hopkins University shows that the parts of your brain that are responsible for self-monitoring are literally turned off during creative endeavors. He uses functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) which detects metabolic activity in the different areas of the brain, to study brain activity in jazz musicians and rap artists. While they are in the scanner, he asks the musicians to compose an improvisational piece of music. While they are playing, Limb has found that a part of the brain’s frontal loves believed to be responsible for judgment shows much lower activities.

This implies that during this creative process the brain actively shuts off its normal inhabitation of new ideas. For many activities it is important to have high self-monitoring of your behavior so that you don’t say everything you think or do everything that you consider. But when you are generating new ideas, this function gets in the way.

Creative people have apparently mastered the art of turning off this part of their brains to let their ideas flow more smoothly, unleashing their imagination.” (Dr Tina Seelig: Ingenuis: A crash course on creativity)

In the world of constant busyness and achievement, it is becoming more challenging for us to be able to enter a state of flow. Creative Flow is a structured, replicable process that anyone can learn to nurture personal and group flow experiences.

Creative Leadership

“Creative people decide to be creative, and they show a creative attitude toward leadership. Creative people exhibit a variety of characteristics that represent decisions or ways of making creative decisions (Sternberg, 2002). They are confident that their insights are more likely to be effective in dealing with certain issues, and their solutions may be more appropriate under certain circumstances (Gardner, 1995). This willingness to challenge, along with their talents, makes them stand out as leaders. Therefore, a new type of leadership – creative leadership – is foregrounded.”  Creativity and Leadership in Organizations: A Literature Review. Jiajun Guo, Richard Gonzales and Anna E. Dilley

“Puccio et al. (2011) defined creative leadership as “the ability to deliberately engage one’s imagination to define and guide a group toward a novel goal – a direction that is new for the group.” Similarly, Basadur (2004) stated that creative leadership means “leading people through a common process or method of finding and defining problems, solving them, and implementing the new solutions.” Given the complexity of both creativity and leadership, some researchers have begun to describe different kinds of creative leadership. Viewing it as a confluence of skills and dispositions, Sternberg and his colleagues (2004) identified several types of creative leadership using his propulsion theory, including Replication, Redefinition, Forward Incrementation, Advanced Forward Incrementation, Redirection, Reconstruction, Reinitiation, and Synthesis. Mumford et al. (2002) proposed a tripartite model – Idea Generation, Idea Structuring, and Idea Promotion – to discuss the jobs of creative leadership. In their view the nature of creative leadership, involving generating new ideas, setting guidance and output expectations, and gathering support for creative work, is complex and sometimes even contradictory.”

The need for Creative Leadership

“In this rapidly changing and increasingly complex world, leadership faces multiple challenges to its traditional roles. Creativity has become a critical concern for most organizations to survive this uneasiness and uncertainty (Mumford, Hunter, Eubanks, Bedell, & Murphy, 2007). At the same time, it has received a great deal of attention recently in both creativity and leadership research (George, 2008; Mumford, Zaccaro, Harding, Jacobs, & Fleishman, 2000; Mumford, Scott, Gaddis, & Strange, 2002; Mumford, Connelly, & Gaddis, 2003; Mumford & Connelly, 1991; Rickards & Moger, 2006; Shalley & Gilson, 2004; Sternberg, Kaufman, & Pretz, 2004; Williams & Foti, 2011). One leading force that draws the fields of creativity and leadership together is change and the complex problems brought about by change (Puccio, Mance, & Murdock, 2011). Some researchers think that creativity is a critical factor in effective leadership that enables an organization or institution to solve ill-defined problems (Mumford & Connelly, 1991), to respond to opportunities (Shalley & Gilson, 2004), and thereby, ISSN: 2354-0036 DOI: 10.1515/ctra-2016-0010 Article history: Received 18 Febuary 2016 Received in revised form 14 May 2016 Accepted 15 May 2016 Theories – Research – Applications Richard Gonzales University of Connecticut E-mail address: Anna E. Dilley University of Connecticut E-mail address: – 10.1515/ctra-2016-0010 Downloaded from PubFactory at 07/25/2016 10:37:59AM via free access 128 to maintain a competitive advantage (Reiter-Palmon, 2004) in a world full of uncertainty.”

Embodied Cognition

Embodied cognition is the belief that many features of human cognition are shaped by aspects of the body beyond the brain. The features of cognition include high level mental constructs (such asconcepts and categories) and human performance on various cognitive tasks (such as reasoning or judgment). The aspects of the body include the motor system, the perceptual system, the body’s interactions with the environment (situatedness) and the ontological assumptions about the world that are built into the body and the brain.

The embodied mind thesis challenges other theories, such as cognitivism, computationalism, andCartesian dualism.[1][2] It is closely related to the extended mind thesis, situated cognition andenactivism. The modern version depends on insights drawn from recent research in psychology,linguistics, cognitive science, dynamical systems, artificial intelligence,robotics and neurobiology.

In philosophy, embodied cognition holds that an agent’s cognition is strongly influenced by aspects of an agent’s body beyond the brain itself.[1] In their proposal for an enactive approach to cognition Varela et al. defined “embodied”:[3]

“By using the term embodied we mean to highlight two points: first that cognition depends upon the kinds of experience that come from having a body with various sensorimotor capacities, and second, that these individual sensorimotor capacities are themselves embedded in a more encompassing biological, psychological and cultural context.”

— Eleanor Rosch, Evan Thompson, Francisco J. Varela: The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience pages 172–173

Reference: Wikipedia

Design Thinking: An opportunity to reinvent learning and development

In the face of a fast changing and increasingly more complex world, many argue that creativity and innovation are crucial 21st century skills. Design thinking is capability that is gaining rapid adoption not only in Canada, but globally. This highly structured yet agile process not only enables creativity and innovation, but also a competitive differentiator that cannot be easily outsourced. It can be applied to develop new training programs, or to change the way training is delivered, or introduced as a simple process to embed a culture of experimentation, creativity and learning in an organization.  Training departments can offer it as a highly effective experience-based learning module for leaders at all levels in the organization.

For the HRMA Roundtable presentation, Human Resources professionals were given resources to

  • Explain design thinking and the benefits of design thinking to others
  • Reflect on the role of the training professional and how design thinking can be used to reinvent training and development and also create new programs in innovation in organizations
  • Use a simple design thinking tool – empathy mapping
  • Learn about a recent case study in BC where design thinking was applied to create a next generation Whole Person Leadership Development Program
  • Some lessons learnt on how to introduce design thinking into your own organization and clients

Watch the interview below with BC Human Resources Management Assocation about Design Thinking and Adult Learning.



Virtual Reality Technology to connect body, mind and learning

“Only what grows out of your direct experiencing has the power to change everything.” – Dr Lisa Caparo

An exciting new opportunity is opening up to change how we grow and develop our skills through augmented virtual reality, experiential technology and neurogaming.

Instead of passively sitting and playing virtual games and simulations, a whole new paradigm is opening up with this new technology which makes reality not only a cognitive experience, but also felt in the body and emotions. This enables us to creatively nurture  somatic intelligence based on neurobiology of the embodied learning.

The Flow Dome from the Flow Genome Project is an example of applying somatic entrainment to become more familiar with the state of Flow.

Somatic leadership, for example combined with intentionally designed creative movement and technologies of mind, are new approaches that, combined with augmented virtual reality, can make change and growth fun, effective and enable innovation and leadership in a novel way.

A somatic leadership philosophy, intelligence and practices has the potential for leaders to develop new body-centric models of leadership utilizing the language of the “way of the body” to generate a body and health centered model for leadership. Fusing this with virtual reality technology takes it into a new dimension – gaming that focuses on physical, mental and emotional wellbeing while learning new skills in a fun way.

Such Embodied leadership practices can take us out of all of the “cognitive” leadership processes of a worldview that the mind is only in the brain, and gets us right back into our genuine self – as lived and expressed through our body.

Contact me to find out how I apply somatic intelligence to strategy, leadership, change and organizational development.