Develop Your Creativity for Maximum Success

by Tom Northup

We have all experienced that “A-Ha” moment when we connected an idea we had struggled to understand with an experience that made the idea perfectly clear. This experi­ential learning process is fundamental to best thinking.

Those who develop best thinking become experts in their fields. They gain increasing esteem from their peers and a confidence level that places them at the top of their pro­fession. Best thinking be­comes an attitude of con­tinuous discovery. Best thinkers don’t segment their thinking into periodic events. They make strategic think­ing a regular process.

People who take best thinking to its highest level interact with others who have a mutual desire to share knowledge, education, ex­perience, and wisdom with one another. A burst of cre­ativity flows from the com­bined energies and intellects of those who share experi­ences and build from a com­bined base.

When this happens, the participants create knowledge greater than the sum of the parts, a case where two plus two can truly become five. Everyone involved raises their per­sonal effectiveness to a higher level than they could achieve by themselves.

In this article, I will share the reasons why best thinking is particularly important in today’s business environment and will present ways you can develop your best thinking to become a top player in your profession. Sole practitioners and company executives can all benefit from personal best thinking.

Best Thinking Levels

When we strive to be­come experts in our field, we build expertise through formal education and prac­tical experience. Over time, experiential learning allows us to effectively apply our knowledge to a wide variety of situations. At this level of best thinking, our educa­tional gaps, innate ability, and personal biases constrict our expertise, keeping our learning one dimensional. We need more knowledge and experience than we pos­sess but often fail to recog­nize that need.

It comes as a surprise to many people that when they build increased experience and knowledge through interac­tion with other professionals, they raise their best thinking to a level they never expected to achieve.

The highest level of best thinking happens because group interaction supports expanded creative thinking. We build our expertise on a far wider base of education and experi­ence than we could have attained by ourselves. We rise above our personal limitations and biases. Individual gems of wisdom and experience from many sources combine to form a creative base of practical knowledge.

Historical Perspective

Many of us remember when change in business hap­pened slowly. Executives and professionals could develop best thinking over time through reading and continuing education. Interpersonal interaction, though important, was not critical to increasing our expertise.

Today, technology changes faster than ever, creating a business environment in which we find it difficult to keep up with current practices by using only our personal resources. We cannot read books and get practical experience fast enough to maintain the necessary expertise. Interaction with others with complementary experience is now the only way to develop best thinking.

Organizations are an excellent place to develop best thinking because the organizational culture promotes cre­ative interaction within company teams. As professionals, we do not have this luxury because our support groups are not self-contained within a single organizational environ­ment. We must develop our own creative terms.

Effective Attitudes for Best Thinking

To embrace best thinking, professionals need to adjust their attitudes and behaviors.

Best thinking is a continual process, not an event. We must develop an “I’m always learning” mentality. We must make regular dialogue with others a way of life. When we notice and remember the little gems of wisdom we get from others, experiential learning happens, giving us “A-Ha” moments and great leaps ahead in our thinking.

When we share with others, we need a strong sense of self and a positive mental attitude, which allows us to interact comfortably with others and to accept them even when they have very different ideas. People with strong self-awareness understand their emotions, strengths, limi­tations, values, and motives at a deep level. They are honest with themselves about themselves. They know the direction they want their life to take and why.

When we ask others to participate with us in a dialog about our projects and concerns, we must share with them. These wide-ranging, in-depth creative discussions must involve true give-and-take between the two parties for the absolute best thinking to take place.

To develop a strong give-and-take relationship, become significant in the lives of others. People with significance understand that they contribute to the success of others. They ask, “How can I help you?” They dedicate their time and energy to the success of those who help them achieve their success. When you get others to realize that you truly care about them and have their best interests at heart, you will have created a relationship that fosters best thinking.

In contrast, self-centered people lose the opportunity to develop the highest level of best thinking because they focus too much on themselves, making it difficult for others to interact with them. They don’t have the give-and-take attitude necessary for interpersonal dialog.

You must be non-judgmental when you interact with others. Accept others for what they can contribute. Don’t force your values and expectations on them. Don’t expect more than they can give. Be open to all contributions.

When you engage in open-ended discussions, use the creative right side of your brain. You will discover that no wrong answers exist and that everything is possible. The more ideas you develop the better. You can later use the left side of your brain to analyze the ideas you have created.


When you communicate with others on a continuous basis, you develop and maintain your status as an expert in your field. You will achieve “A-Ha” moments by being non-judgmental and remembering that everything is pos­sible. Nurture a mind open to all ideas.

Develop significance in the lives of others. You will foster the highest level of best thinking when others realize that you are giving your time and energy to their success and they can contribute to yours.

Most importantly, best thinking is not an event but a continuous thought process. Ask everyone to contribute their thoughts and experience as you seek the gems of knowledge that will turn into that “A-Ha” experience.

To quote John Wooden, “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts!”

Leadership Management® Institute
Reprinted with permission
Strategic Essentials is a Managing Partner for Leadership Management® International, Inc.

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