Being creative – A natural state of our mind

One of the occupational hazards I face in my profession has to do with my role as a scientist and technologist (My role in R&D is essentially to come up with new ideas for new products or projects for implementation from time to time). Very often when a new and simple idea is presented by R&D,one irritating question that pops up is : “If it were so simple and straight forward,why is it that nobody else is doing the same?” or some variation of that. Invariably my honest and stock answer to the question is “I do not know ” .
There are two difficulties in dealing with this question. One is that there is no way to know whether somebody else has also thought of the same idea unless one is totally preoccupied with what others are doing,in which case we can only come up with imitative “me too” products or ideas. Second problem has to do with the mindset of people who can not accept a simple idea. It has to be complex or made to appear complex or at least have a precedence. Yet,in a corporate setting,one can not totally ignore this question because at the end of the day one has to sell one’s ideas to the management.
Generally the rate of success of new ideas(from my personal experience) is one out of ten,which is not bad at all considering the heavy odds against which the new ideas have to be implemented. There are people questioning the practicality virtually at every stage as the idea (or product) travels from the lab to pilot plant to main plant to the market place. If it has to survive and succeed in spite of facing such a rough weather,the R&D man has to pursue the idea with perseverance and serendipity. It is no exaggeration to say that a new concept or idea is like an infant which needs to be encouraged and nurtured by the management at each stage till commercialization. Lack of such an encouragement on our part basically reveals the nature of our mindset – do we have the mindset of a leader or that of a follower. Obviously if it is the latter,we are always troubled by self – doubt at each step and never get out of our comfort zone. Therefore we would constantly look for leaders whom we can conveniently follow all the time. The question that needs to be answered is: what is the root cause of such a mindset? Perhaps,fear of failure (and consequences thereof) is one of the contributing factors for this culture and clearly only fearless minds are capable of being creative. This reminds me of a famous line from the film “Sholay” where the notorious Gabbar Singh says:”Jo dar gaya,samjho,vah mar gaya”.

While reflecting on this problem I recall what J Krishnamurthy ( JK) used to say about developing an unconditioned mind (which is obviously a prerequisite for creativity). When JK was confronted by a listener expressing his difficulty to keep his mind unconditioned, he countered saying – ‘On the contrary, is n’t it very difficult to condition the mind, when it is so simple to keep the mind in its original and natural state which is unconditioned? Don’t we have to take lots of efforts to pile up our mind with prejudices,preconceived notions,likes,dislikes etc?’.
It may sound like an oversimplification of the problem. But then this statement also suggests how we complicate matters unnecessarily. JK’s observation is an eye opener indeed for many of us struggling to get out of our psychological misery due to conditioning.

It may not be unreasonable to conclude from the discussion that innovative thinking and creativity are the natural states of our mind which is poisoned over a period of time by our conditioning.
After all,every idea,every problem or solution is unique and has a context of its own. Therefore,It is best to keep things simple instead of analysing as to why nobody else has done what we intend to do.
A mind with a preconceived notion is the cause of several missed opportunities in life. For instance look at the classic example of conditioning with many of us including myself – to be prejudiced to think that the study of religious scriptures and reflecting on philosophical questions of life are issues exclusively reserved for the old age. This notion has resulted in a tremendous loss of opportunity for self development early in life. One can give several examples -from the most trivial to the most profound – of how biased thinking can harm individuals and positively hamper flowering of one’s personality.


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