miércoles, 19 de diciembre de 2012

Misc: How rejection breeds creativity

http://99u.com/tips/7251/How-Rejection-Breeds-Creativity?utm_source=Triggermail&utm_medium=email&utm_term=ALL&utm_campaign=MIH%20-%20December%2012&utm_content=FinalIn 2006, Stefani Germanotta had hit a turning point in her career. She had quit a rigorous musical theatre program at an elite college to focus on her musical passion and, after a year of hard work and little income, had signed a deal with Def Jam records.  But this promise wouldn't last. Just three months after signing, Def Jam changed its mind about Stefani's unusual style and released her from her contract.
Rejected, Stefani went back the drawing board, working in clubs and experimenting with new performers and new influences. These experiments produced a new sound that was drawing positive attention from critics and fans. Within a year, there was another offer; this one from Interscope Records. Nearly two years after her initial rejection, Stefani was finally able to introduce her sound and her self to the world – as Lady Gaga.

Rejection happens and, when it does, how we respond to it matters. Lady Gaga responded by experimenting with new influences and making her sound more unique. Just as Gaga experienced, recent research suggests that when most of us experience rejection, it can actually enhance our creativity, depending on how we respond to it.

In a series of experiments, researchers led by Sharon Kim of Johns Hopkins University sought to examine the impact of rejection on individuals' creative output. In the first experiment, participants were given a series of personality questions and told they would be considered for participation in several group exercises in the future. 

Rejection happens and, when it does, how we respond to it matters.

When the participants returned to the laboratory a week later, some of them were asked to complete a few tasks before joining their group (inclusion), others were told that the none of the groups had chosen them and they would need to complete their tasks independently (rejection).

The tasks in the experiment were a series of rapid associative tests (RAT), a common measurement of divergent thinking. A RAT question works by presenting three seemingly unrelated words (e.g. fish, mine, and rush) and asking participants to think of a single word that can be added to all three to create a meaningful term (e.g. gold; goldfish, gold mine, gold rush). The RAT question is a useful measurement because it requires both elements of creative thinking: novelty and usefulness.

When they calculated the results, the researchers found that "rejected" participants significantly outperformed those that were included in a group. But that wasn't all the researchers found. Embedded in the personality questions was a measurement of how individualistic or collective participants viewed themselves (called independent or dependent self-concept). Those who had test results that labeled them as independent showed even greater gains in creativity after feeling rejection. Consider the difference between those who respond to rejection by sulking versus those who respond by rolling up their sleeves and thinking "I'll show them."

Those who had test results that labeled them as independent showed even greater gains in creativity after feeling rejection.

The researchers wanted to know if this independent self-concept could be manipulated. Could people be put into a mindset that dealt with rejection in a way that enhanced their creative output? To answer this, they reran their experiment with a slight tweak. Instead of embedding the self-concept measurement in their personality questions and examining correlations afterward, participants' self concept was altered or "primed" through a simple activity designed to focus participants either on themselves or on how they fit into a larger group. Remarkably, even a task as small as circling the singular "I" or plural "we" pronouns in a story was enough to alter their self-concept and affect their response to rejection.

As they expected, participants primed with an independent self-concept solved significantly more RAT problems following rejection than those primed to think collectively. The results were conclusive: rejection breeds creativity, especially for those who consider themselves highly independent. In final a follow-up study, the researchers found the same trend using a different measurement of creativity.

Taken together, these experiments hold interesting implications for responding to rejection. While it is never a comfortable experience, the feelings of rejection can actually help us access our more creative selves. Free from the expectations of group norms, we can push the limits of novelty. Moreover, we can enhance that ability by changing the way we respond to rejection. Instead of dwelling too much on the pain of being turned down or turned aside, consider the freedom you now have to explore new possibilities and less mainstream options.

Feelings of rejection can actually help us access our more creative selves.

Being rejected is often a statement that you (or your ideas) are too far from the current mainstream to be considered safe or comfortable. This could actually be a good thing. You're ahead of your time. While the group or client may not believe they need you right away, the world probably does. If you're too far from the mainstream, you could be the one pushing progress forward.

Consider how Lady Gaga's work was too unique for Def Jam, but was an international hit just two years later with Interscope. Decades before Gaga, George Bernard Shaw, the Nobel Prize winning writer, weighed in on the same phenomenon, saying "The reasonable man adapts himself to the conditions that surround him. The unreasonable man adapts surrounding conditions to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man."

lunes, 17 de diciembre de 2012

Film: Brave, Pixar and math

Interesting video by Inigo Quilez about how maths were used in Brave to create the forest.

miércoles, 12 de diciembre de 2012

Misc: 5 Easy ways to stay motivated

No matter what you do for a living, the key to success is superlative performance, day after day after day. And that’s only possible if you make optimism, expectancy, and enthusiasm part of your daily experience.
That’s easy if you’re pursuing your life’s dearest dreams.  But what if, like almost everybody else in this world, you’ve got a job that’s not exactly perfect. Here’s how to remain a go-getter, even when the getting gets tough:
STEP #1: Realize That YOU Are in Control
Your attitude isn’t controlled by the outside world.  That’s an illusion, a fantasy that, if you believe it, you’re simply using to escape responsibility for managing this all-important part of your career.
For example, if you run into snowstorm that’s making you late to a customer meeting, you can get frustrated and start cursing…, or you can look forward to the appreciation that the customer might feel because you were committed enough to fight the weather to make the meeting.
Similarly, when the economy goes south, you can start obsessing about how it’s going to affect your job, or you can be one of those individuals who use tighter budgets as a way to streamline operations, develop new markets and create innovations.
It’s all in how you see it!
STEP #2: Neutralize Your Negative Triggers
Stop letting exterior events trigger negative thoughts.
For example, suppose you’re traveling to a customer meeting but keep running into red lights and traffic delays. That IS a problem, but if you get flustered, you’ve got TWO problems: the fact that you’re late, and the fact that you’re flustered.
And if you walk into the meeting flustered, the customer might wonder if you’re moody and unreliable. So now you’ve got THREE problems.
To get a better result (and achieve a better attitude), modify your interpretation of exterior events that tend to trigger a negative outlook. Once the events in your life take on a different, more useful meaning, they won’t trigger a bad attitude.
For example, while the delays may be making you late, use the extra time to collect your thoughts, consider your options, and decide on a damage control strategy. Or use the time to come up with a better schedule, so that you always leave plenty of time, just in case there’s traffic.
As a mentor of mine once said: “Life is like those signs that say ‘You Are Here’  What you make of where you are is up to you.”
STEP #3: Detoxify Your Media Consumption
Much of today’s news programming consists of “if it bleeds it leads” stories followed by commercials offering some form of (often addictive) security or comfort. The constant flow of negative imagery automatically creates a negative attitude about life, the world, and everything in it.
If you want to maintain a positive attitude, you MUST reduce or even eliminate your exposure to broadcast news programming. Rather than waste time with that garbage, add material and content into your life that will help you become more successful (like this column!)
Start and end each day reading something positive! When you’re on the road, rather than listening to negative, emotionally-charged talk radio, listen to motivational tapes, music that raises your spirits, or maybe great literature.
STEP #4: Avoid Negative People
You probably have one or more friends, relatives, or acquaintances who make you feel tired and drained. They always seem to have something sour to say; criticisms come to their lips far more quickly than compliments.
Such folk are toxic to your attitude (and hence to your success) because, if they’re not actively tearing down your enthusiasm, they’re trying to get you to think the same way about the world as they do.  What a drag!  Literally.
If you want to maintain a positive attitude, consider sharply limiting your daily exposure to such people. Don’t show up at the daily “water cooler complain-fest.” Don’t go to lunch with the “grouse and grumble” crowd. If you’ve got family members who are constantly negative, tune them out.
STEP #5: Adopt a Positive Vocabulary
The words that you use—both what you speak aloud and your internal dialogue—have a vast influence in how you perceive what’s happening in the world. All words carry a certain amount of emotional baggage, inherent in their exact definition and the way that they’ve been used in the past.
For instance, the words “despise,” “hate,” and “dislike” mean essentially the same thing, but carry very different emotional baggage. If you “dislike” something, but tell yourself that you “hate it” over and over and over, it will intensify the original emotion.
To keep a positive attitude, use weak words for negative feelings and strong words for positive ones. This thwarts the downward spiral of negative feelings and words, and accelerates the upward spiral of positive feelings and words.

martes, 11 de diciembre de 2012

Misc:8 Beliefs That Make You More Resilient


Most people live lives of quiet desperation because they focus on things that they cannot control: outside events, stuff that happened in the past and what other people are thinking. As a result, they fail to focus on what they CAN control: their own beliefs, their own attitude, their own emotions, and their own behavior.
Of these four things, by far the most important are your beliefs, because what you believe about work and life largely determines how you feel (your attitude and emotions) and what actions you take (your resulting behavior.)
In my view, there are eight personal beliefs that not only will propel you completely out of desperation but give you the emotional oomph to handle just about anything the business world throws at you. 

Here they are:
1. Today's success can breed tomorrow's failure if I let success make me complacent about staying motivated and moving forward.
2. I learn more from failure than from success. Failure renews my humility, sharpens my objectivity and makes me more resilient.
3. Goals that contain the phrase "I'll try..." are self-defeating. If I want goals that truly motivate me, I use phrases like "I will" and "I must."
4. What holds most people back is fear of failure, but if I don't take action, I'll fail by default, so what have I got to lose?
5. What I say reinforces what I think, so if something is about to come out of my mouth that doesn't serve my purpose, I should simply keep my mouth shut.
6. I am responsible for my own happiness, so when other people are unkind to me, it reminds me to be kind to myself.
7. There are five magic words that make even the most difficult business situation easier to handle. Those magic words are: "Do not take it personally."
8. While there are situations (such as a death in the family) where strong emotions are appropriate, most business situations are not worth even an ounce of misery.
I wish I could say that I figured out these beliefs all by myself, but frankly I'm not that smart. They're based upon conversations with Art Mortell and Omar Periu, who know more about motivation and personal growth than I'll ever know.

lunes, 10 de diciembre de 2012

Misc: The wonderful world of clients

Misc: The power of negative thinking

Lie back and picture life after your ambitions are fulfilled, the motivational gurus used to say, and you'll bring that end result closer to reality. Make an effort to visualize every detail – the finished screenplay sitting pretty on your desk, the gushing reviews in the paper, the sports car parked outside.

The gurus claimed these images would galvanize your determination. They said you could use the power of positive thinking to will success to happen. But then some important research came along that muddied the rosy picture.
Gabriele Oettingen's psychology lab at New York University has shown that visualizing our aims as already achieved can backfire. The positive imagery can be inspiring at first but it also tricks the mind into relaxing, as if the hard work is done. This means the more compelling the mental scene of success, the more likely it is that your energy will seep away.

In the study, volunteers felt de-energized after visualizing success in an essay competition. In another, participants who fantasised about their goals for the coming week felt less energetic and achieved fewer of their goals.

Why Picturing Future Obstacles Actually Helps

A related problem with picturing what life will be like after we've achieved our goals is that it encourages us to gloss over the obstacles to success that are standing in our way. While the fantasy about our successful new fashion line or our future gym-fit physique might give us a frisson of excitement, it also distracts us from the practical steps we need to put in place to turn dream into reality. Of course you need to have an end goal in mind – purpose and direction are vital – but just as important is to think hard about the hurdles lying in wait.

Oettingen's team call this strategy "mental contrasting" – thinking about how wonderful it would be to achieve your goals, while paying due attention to where you're at now and all the distance and difficulties that lie in between. 

Visualizing our aims as already achieved can backfire.

Two weeks after a group of mid-level managers at four hospitals in Germany were trained in this mental contrasting technique, research by Oettingen's group showed they'd achieved more of their short-term goals than their colleagues who'd missed out on the training, and they found it easier to make planning decisions. That's another benefit of mental contrasting: by thinking realistically about the obstacles to success, it helps us pick challenges that we're likely to win and avoid wasting time on projects that are going nowhere.

Have a go – think of one of your ambitions, write down three benefits of succeeding, but then pause and consider the three main obstacles in your way, and write those down, too. Going through this routine will help ensure you direct your motivation and energy where it's needed most, and help you identify if this particular goal is a non-starter.

It's worth noting, however, that mental contrasting works best as a counter-point to high morale and expectations of success. When you're feeling confident, it ensures your positive energy is channelled strategically into the tasks and activities that are essential for progress. (If you're feeling low and struggling to get going on any project at all, then this is not the technique for you.)

Positive Feedback as a Multiplier for Progress

One scenario when we're likely to be flush with confidence and optimism is after receiving positive feedback. In a more recent study, Gabriele Oettingen and her colleagues tested the value of mental contrasting in a simulation of just such a situation.

By thinking realistically about the obstacles to success, it helps us pick challenges that we're likely to win and avoid wasting time.

Dozens of volunteers took part in what they thought was an investigation into creativity. Half the study participants were given false feedback on a test of their creative potential, with their results inflated to suggest that they'd excelled. In advance of the main challenge – a series of creative insight problems – some of the participants were then taught mental contrasting: writing about how good it would feel to smash the problems, and then writing about the likely obstacles to achieving that feat, such as daydreaming.

The best performers on the insight problems were those participants who'd received the positive feedback about their potential and who'd performed mental contrasting. They out-classed their peers who'd received inflated feedback but only indulged in positive thoughts, and they outperformed those participants who'd received negative feedback (regardless of whether they, too, performed mental contrasting).

So, the next time you receive some positive feedback, don't lose your focus. Indulge yourself a little – you're on track after all – but also take time to think about the obstacles that remain, and the practical steps you'll need to enact to overcome them. The mental contrasting technique guards against complacency, ensuring the boost of your early win is multiplied into long-term success.


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