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Creativity and Lateral Thinking - Use It or Lose It

by Frances Coombes(more info)

listed in nlp, originally published in issue 176 - November 2010

I have borrowed George Soros's thinking style for 30 days and applied it to making my own decisions. Soros is the man whose understanding of future trends, attitudes and thinking patterns in the money market is said to have broken the Bank of England. Am I richer than I was 30 days ago from repeating someone else's thinking habits for ten minute a day? Well no, but then I did not set out to make money; I set out to generate more creative and original ideas. Am I smarter and a more creative thinker? You bet I am.

Computerized Tasks Re-wire our Brains and Weaken our Ability to Think Creatively

The modern world of computer inputting, multi-tasking and information overload is inhibiting our capacity to think creatively. We may have a librarian's store of knowledge at our fingertips, but in performing mainly repetitive analytical and procedural tasks at computers, some of us are losing our ability to think creatively.

How do we Assess our Ability to Think?

How much time do you spend thinking creatively each day? Tick the tasks below you perform most commonly and see how balanced your creativity and analytical thinking is.

Left Brain
Right Brain
Hard knowledge 
Presence / connection
Function skills 
Intuition and insight
Guidelines and Rules 
Energy and Flow
Process / Procedures
Wisdom / Sense
Methods and tools
Clarity and Calm

Albert Einstein said: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift." We were all born creative, and we can re-ignite those talents at will.

Install a Creative Thinking Routine

Set up a creativity routine you can work on each day. For my ten-minute daily workout I use my imagination to consult my mentors, and take on the thinking habits of the most powerful, or talented people on the planet and then apply them to finding solutions to my own situations? This month I have chosen George Soros, the man whose understanding of future trends, attitudes and thinking patterns in the money market is said to have broken the bank of England, Desmond Tutu, peacemaker and Judge Judy, wise person. Using other people's thinking styles to find answers to your immediate questions is creative, and it's fun.  When you have installed one type of thinking habit so that it becomes routine, then choose another exemplar and explore their problem-solving patterns too, so you acquire more thinking gems for your decision making toolkit.

The Trick to Consulting your Mentors

The trick to consulting your mentors is to realize that you don't have to know everything there is to know about that person, only to model their thinking through steps when they are problem solving or making decisions. How would Mr Spock of the Starship Enterprise, Lieutenant Colombo, Jonathan Dimbleby, or Oprah Winfrey tackle the type of problem you are experiencing now? Explain the situation out loud to them, and then listen carefully to their answers.

Where do you Find your Mentors? - Consult your Ever-Present Experts

Who would you really love to have as an expert to consult on your situation? List the names of people who spring to mind for you, - those you know would have the answers to your questions. The more powerfully your mentors resonate with you, the more realistically you can hear them speak and address your situation in your mind's eye.

Set up a panel of five or six mentors and apply their thinking styles and questioning to your own situation. This is a fun exercise; here are some questions you can imagine addressing to help you form your mentors group. 

Think of a problem you want to find a solution to and write it down in a sentence.

Create a Well-formed Outcome

Imagine that each of your mentors are helping you by asking and answering some of your questions. Write the answers down so you can retrieve the gems.


  1. What do I want from this situation? Whose ideas can help me most?
  2. Where am I now? Is there a step missing from my thinking? What is it?
  3. How will I know when I have got my outcome? What will I see, hear, feel?
  4. What will having this outcome say about me?  What will it allow me to do?
  5. How much influence do I have over this outcome? A lot of influence? Some? None? Am I dependent on others?
  6. What resources do I need? Time / Skills / Behaviour change / other people / a plan?
  7. What will happen if I get this outcome? Do you still want this result? Or do I want something different?
Write your answers down so you can reflect on them next day.

An idea is only a Notion - unless an Action Follows

Once you begin flexing your mental muscles and generating lots of ideas, follow-up immediately with actions so you become used to achieving your goals on a regular basis. Start with small tasks first and work your way up to the biggies. Each small success will reinforce your belief in yourself as a winner who makes things happen.


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About Frances Coombes

Frances Coombes Advanced Dip CBT/REBT Dip CBT offers one-to-one therapeutic coaching in North West London and on Zoom.  She is a is a CBT/REBT psychotherapist in North West London, a NLP Master Practitioner and Rational Emotional Behaviour Therapist and runs life coaching groups in London and on Zoom.  She teaches NLP at The City Lit in Central London and tutors at the City Lit and Mary Ward Centre in central London on Using REBT for Managing Stress and NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming). She runs goal setting and REBT coaching groups for vulnerable people for inner London authorities and charities.  

Her most recent book is Motivate Yourself and Reach Your Goals, pub, November 2013, Hodder Headline. Available on and  For extract visit To inquire or book personal development courses contact Frances on Tel: 07818 896 795; 


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