As years pass by and as complicated my personality becomes I try to explore myself even further, but there is one thing that always stays the same- my attitude towards FUN!
Like every child (although I am not anymore, that’s what they say), I have always paid attention in class when there was some sort of interaction- cartoons, songs and music, drawings or even a TV! As the years go by, I often catch myself digging up some happy childhood memories. One of them is related to my Arts & Drawing class in my middle school. I remember our teacher- a really humble old lady with really strong Russian accent. She always “played” her cardboard TV in the remaining 15 minutes of every class. Yes, it was a TV and yes, it was made out of cardboard, but what she did is she drew the different scenes of a fairy tales on a separate sheets and she would ”play” them one after another in a chronological way, while at the same time telling us the story involving her acting abilities. This made her classes and the whole process of learning arts even funnier. We all loved them. We never skipped her classes and we had huge respect for out teacher.
Photo credit: https://uk.pinterest.com/pin/505669864386722282/
I usually do not like to talk about school at all, but I am going to share with you what was happening in another one of my favourite classes- Russian Language classes (a lot of Russian influence in my childhood, good times). My teacher was the friendliest person you could ever meet and she delivered this through her projects she made for and with us during the process of learning the foreign language.
Learning is not always about data and research and all the books you can read. It is about going out of your comfort zone and playing with the world around you. Often she would dress us (she encouraged us to sew our costumes ourselves!) and make us dance and sing to the rhythm of popular Russian songs. Other than that she would also make us say Russian pieces of literature with artistic attitude, without reading from the book, but learning it all by heart. When we were kids, we did not appreciate this way of education, because we had fun and that was all we cared about. The more we grow, however, the more we realised that was our teacher’s brilliant way of involving us naturally in the process of learning, making it a lot more pleasant and efficient for all of us.
”Cheburashka” (по русски ето ”Чебурашка”) is a famous childen’s Russian series about the adventures of crocodile Gena and the little cheburashka. We had fun making cheburashka dolls in one of our classes while watching the series, which was considered another divergent approach to make us learn the language at ease.
Photo credit: http://luboslovie.bg/2016/07/21
When you think about it it all makes sense, because people do like to entertain themselves and according to most case studies in future, no matter our financial statement, we will continue to spend most of our money mainly on food and entertainment (the light blue parts are hyperlinks- click and explore 🙂 ).
What we do when we are bored?- we entertain ourselves. What do we do when we go home after long day at work?- we entertain ourselves (or maybe go to sleep if our boss has been hyper demanding and annoying as usual). What do we do when we go out with friends?- we search for ways to entertain ourselves. So let not only Robbie Williams entertain you, but always look for the fun way to do things!
Meet Stan! Or the Googleplex proud dinosaur that happened to be really friendly and was standing still all the time for some reason… I met him couple of weeks ago when I went to San Francisco and visited Google’s office in Silicon Valley. However I am not going to focus on Stan very much in this blog post (sorry Stan) as I have a new one coming up in which I will talk especially about that trip to San Fran. All I will say about him now is that nevertheless he is a dinosaur, his purpose is to represent his best as a creative symbol of Google’s workplace, that is going to remind workers to be playful and embrace their playfulness while at work!
Speaking of playfulness and classes (after all it’s academic blog, or at least I am trying hard to make it that way) I should tell you about how my second semester started. The induction to our new classes of Conducting Collaborative Creativity (CCC as we call it) took me back long years ago to my middle school classes I told you about in the beginning. Why? Because we played a game. Well not the kind of games from “Saw” movies (excuse my imagination), but we did played around with some LEGOs for adults.
LEGO for adults? Serious play? You may think I am mad (we are all mad here). Truth is, many case studies have shown that play can be a serious reason for creativity and insight to burst in our brains. But what is play?
According to Held & Spinka (2011) play can indicate that we are feeling well both physically and psychologically. Children play, animals play, even workers play these days, encouraging things like scientific creativity to happen (strange things happen these days…) According to some scientists it is 100% true that positive mood can be really helpful when trying to generate new ideas and involve innovative problem-solving in our daily lives (Isen & Reeve, 2005). And when we think about play does make us feel happy and careless, therefore why wouldn’t it help us in being more creative and open-minded? Positive mood and being light-hearted does foster divergent thinking and it also helps another process in the human brain- connecting previously unconnected thoughts (Bateson & Martin, 2013).
At the beginning of the class we were given set of LEGO elements and our module leader encouraged us to “play” with it. Our first task was to describe our “Most creative day”, building a model with whatever pieces we want within the next 2 minutes. Most of us used metaphors or created models of different things that make us creative and help us be insightful. We could see things like lego dogs, lego computers, lego flowers even lego vinyl player I created to express my love of music and how I cannot be creative without the art I choose to surround myself with overall. Subsequently, all of our models represent the same emotions and themes, but in an individual way.
The same was with our second task- to express our “Non-creative day” in our 2-minute LEGO model. Again we all used metaphors to express our moods and feelings. No matter if our less creative day will involve just empty TV staring or laying in bed all day, we all agreed that we feel less creative when we have no movement, no emotion and just not right headspace involved in that day whatsoever. My “non-creative day” looked similar, but of course I involved a lot more drama and metaphors:
To explain briefly the picture above, in days when I feel less creative I am usually in a bad mood. I would feel sad (the blue), angry (the red) or just empty (the white). Everything around me will be indifferent and blank, not clear like the fog in a typical London morning (the grey). If you are still wondering I am the small beige piece in the middle with the pink flower on top (as everyone around me knows that I look at the world around me always through my pink, “positive-vibing” glasses :))
All of my “bad headspace” is placed on a black rounded LEGO piece that can turn around, representing the roller coaster I go through every time I feel non-creative and therefore- depressed. The long LEGO between this piece and my “blue paradise” LEGO pool is the bridge, expressing the long way I have to walk to the place I feel happy at (the blue lego is the water and the green tree is just more nature that inspires me and makes me burst with new ideas, feeling refreshed with new energy and enthusiasm).
As I always fail in planning beforehand (I am more productive in the “last-minute” and under pressure which may sound ridiculously absurd, but it is true) this blog post turned out to be a lot longer than I initially intended it to be. However, in my next blog post I will continue to talk about play and a really curious BBC series I came across, again regarding playfulness and creativity processes in our brains. It will be interesting (you know me, I do not do things if they are not engaging 🙂 ).
To sum up, I can say that what this class taught us is that the blank feeling, the lack of freedom and loneliness and isolation are crucial when causing depression and bad mental space, which leads to another thing- lack of creativity. After all we are social creatures which is why when people are isolated they go mad- look at prisoners! (I visited the famous prison on the island of Alcatraz when I was in the US, so stay tuned for my next blog posts!).
Mental health is important and as nowadays we are required to do more and more things that are against our nature as humans, it is really efficient we do understand the importance of people and therefore the importance of leadership.
When managing our own future businesses we should accept the fact that we are all different and we have different personalities- some people are good at organising but not that good when giving ideas and some are complete chaos most of the time, but they are brilliant when it comes to trying and inventing new things, making new ideas and just being creative. Being “boss” will require the skills of leadership or in other words- KNOWING who is good for what task! Also we should be able to understand our own selves- what triggers us and why do these particular events trigger certain emotions and reactions in us. Only then we will be able to manage ourselves and our teams.
Good luck creative business people, and see you on my next “royal” journey of adventures!
Bateson, P. & Matrin, P. (2013). Play, playfulness, creativity and innovation.
Held, S.D.E., & Spinka, M. (2011). Animal play and animal welfare.
Isen, A.M. & Reeve, J. (2005). The influence of positive affect on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation: facilitating enjoyment of play, responsible work behaviour, and self-control.