7 steps of creative thinking: Raphael DiLuzio at TEDxDirigo

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whoa thank you I'm going to be talking

today about things lost and things

discovered I'll also be talking about

demystifying the creative process to

start I have to begin with a little

background story in a question how many

of you have suffered one great loss or

another in your lives okay it's a

roomful well we are told that were not

defined by the loss but we're defined by

how we respond to it and that holds true

for all so things that happen to us that

are good it's not the events that happen

to us but it's about how we respond to

those events I am recovering from what

they call a post concussive condition I

had nine concussions which is a few too

many in my life I think after the age of

10 you're only supposed to have three

and people have to collect something so

why not collect concussions but with

concussions um when you recover from it

they call it post concussive disorder

and many of the boys that are girls and

girls that are coming back from overseas

are suffering from something similar

called post concussive disorder which

were just beginning to find out about um

mine happened in 2008 I was hit by a

18-wheel truck that decided to park in

the back seat of my car a bad parking

spot and when I came out of the accident

about a week later I lost a lot of

things um one of the things I lost was

my ability to talk and my ability to

remember who I was which may have been a

good thing um I was told I'm much nicer

now since the accident I'm not sure how

to take that from my best friend's um

also I lost a superpower when I was a

little child I started drawing and I

start started studying art at the

of nine and was formally trained and

could literally draw anything both in my

head and in front of me and after the

accident my hand would just go like this

my doctor also told me that I would

never get my higher words back which was

upsetting as a professor and that it

would take ten years before I could

teach her recover and I'll start

tomorrow teaching the university that I

taught at allowed me to teach one course

my students were really lovely in

letting me come in but in order to do

that I had to learn how to talk again

and I wasn't really sure what to do

because they were going to wait six

months before giving me speech therapy

they like your brain to settle one night

before going to bed I had a sudden

little flash of an idea a little Eureka

moment which I'll talk about those in a

second I thought of reading the New York

Times newspaper listening to the audio

edition of it and recording myself and

watching myself over and over to retrain

myself to talk and I did that and my

girlfriends to my girlfriends dismay

over and over and over and over one word

at a time one sentence at a time until I

could talk and by the time I went to

speech therapy they said you're doing

quite well what'd you do and I told them

they said well how did you figure that

out I said I don't know I just came up

with this idea and I want to talk to you

about that process of coming up with

ideas before the accident people used to

ask me if I was an artist and I thought

being called an hour artist was

pretentious and I used to say no I'm a

painter as if that has any less

pretension and I real I thought that

because I was defining myself as a

painter I wasn't attaching my creative

process in the same way which I thought

was this thing that came from this

mysterious place and I thought that by

not being an artist and just being a

painter it was more like a blue collar

worker somehow and my creative process

was more like that but I didn't really

understand it and I be

to study it and investigated a little

bit and oddly the things that came back

to me in memory after the accident were

things from way before the accident in

my studies of the creative process one

of the things I came across from Plato

was the dialogue the theaetetus that

talks about the seven stages of

philosophical midwifery and in early

1990s I met Murray Gelman a Nobel

laureate physicist who was doing

research and creativity at the Institute

and they discovered seven processes in

creativity - and I'm going to share

those with you the the fifth stage of

the creative process which I'll talk to

them out of order but since the brain

injury I can't really count so it's okay

the fifth stage is that Eureka moment

and that Eureka moment is very important

how many of you have a little flash of

an idea before you go to bed or when you

wake up in the morning or while you're

driving we have little flashes of ideas

whether it's a song or how to fix

something or how to overcome some

problem at a job these little flashes

are very important these are our Eureka

moments and when we have these how many

of you jumped out of the bed in the

middle of winter and write those down or

pull your car over not do it while

you're driving because you'll run into

me and then I'll get my tenth concussion

and write these ideas down these ideas

are very important and we often don't

realize how important they are to us and

it's not that we don't believe in

ourself but we don't believe in the

validity of these little ideas these

little moments this fifth stage but

these are important and these are

important to write down so you can get

to the first stage now the first stage

and the creative process is just forming

a question or an idea or a problem so if

you don't have one of those little

Eureka moments then you can begin at the

first stage and try and come up with an

idea or a question or perhaps you're at

work and you're your boss has a question

or a problem or there's a difficult

situation you have to overcome at in in

in at your work again or if you're

working in school many of us have many

problems at school students have to go

through every day being given challenges

but you take these problems

and you form a question around them you

try to frame a question and then what

you do is you engage in the process of

research and research comes second

nature to us think about when you give a

child a rattle the first thing they do

in their research is stick it in their

mouth actually anything goes in a little

baby's mouth that's a process of

research and engaging the world we're

curious creatures we do this by Nature

and research can manifest itself in many

different ways you can as an artist look

at things and look at different visual

things and sketch them if you're a chef

you taste and smell things but what you

do is you go into the world and you

experience the world and gather

information from the world around that

question do you form now the third stage

is very interesting I call it the bosta

stage the Italian stage where you say

enough is enough you can research for a

long time you can be at 20,000 feet

where you're looking out over everything

and seeing just the generalities of it

or you can be down in the weeds lost in

the particulars and we can research to

death on things so you have to know when

to say enough is enough and as students

is some of your students you don't get

that choice because you have these

deadlines and then comes the fourth

stage and this is a very important stage

this is and I say that about every stage

I have a friend who's got this little

daughter over in Germany she says

Raphael what's your favorite thing and I

name three she goes you can have only

one favorite I said I'm lucky I get more

than one so the next most important

thing is the fourth stage and this stage

is a stage of gestation where you hold

that question now in this stage there's

three activities that can occur that are

part of the creative process when you

hold the question you enter into a state

of detachment when I was 16 I studied um

Zen Buddhism I grew up in Southern

California I was a little weird at a

sensory deprivation tank in my garage

that I went into every night instead of

sleeping very different lifestyle than

main but from 16 to 25 I went to a Zen

Center and studied Zen Buddhism and one

of the things you do in Rinzai Zen is

you get koans study where the Roshi

gives you an impossible question one


no from almost every movie and TV show

is what is the sound of one hand

clapping or how do you manifest your


at this sound these are questions that

can't be answered in logic we call these

wicked questions not a main thing which

are questions that are very informal

they can't be answered very directly one

way or another but they have multiple

answers and the idea is to hold on to

these questions and keep them in the

back your mind and do a divergent

behavior something different go sweep go

mow anything else it's important to do

that or think of other things another

thing is to while you're holding that

question approach the question through

metaphor if you're working on a

mathematical equation

ask yourself what that equation would

look like if it were a tree how would it

be if it were a herd of geese things

that are so crazy and might seem so far

away from the question that they'll take

you to a new place now artists do this

all the time because we operate with

this kind of fearlessness of imagination

and there's these two worlds that have

to come together we all live in the

world of operations the day-to-day world

where we have to do all our

organizational life putting toothbrush

and toothpaste

together going to work punching the time

clock which I don't think they have


driving to and fro and all these

operations draw us away from our true

nature which is our inventive nature

they say that Nate necessity is a mother

of invention but I really think that

invention is second it's second nature

to us it's a very primal aspect of our

being and our inventive nature comes

through our imagination and our world of

imagination is very important so you

have this world of operations over here

the day-to-day world then you have this

world of daydreaming and imagination and

you don't want to do this too much

because people will slap you and say hey

wake up stop daydreaming but it's

important to do that because you have to

go away from this world of operations

and through divergent behavior or

through metaphor imagine and think of

things differently visualize the problem

imagine what that calculation might look


imagine what that thing that answer you

have might seem like if it were

something else

and mesh these two worlds together we

call in science the world of empiricism

and an artists intuition and you have to

weave the fabric of both together and in

doing so you can get to again the most

important stage the fifth stage the

Eureka moment the big Eureka where you

get the idea again but now you have an

answer to it and then comes the six

stages where a lot of people fail and

that's the process of making when

challenged with having a good idea and

bringing it into being or birth actually

making it is very difficult for us

because we're afraid of failure we're

afraid that it won't look good we're

afraid that people won't like it or us

and you have to operate without fear you

have to accept that you might fail in in

fact failure might actually be good I

tell my students I'd rather have

eloquent failure than boring success and

this failure is really important or this

success that you have but if you don't

know how to make the thing let's say

you've imagined a new process for

renewable and your energy but you're

like me you're just a dumb painter well

then you get people around you that can

help you make that thing or if you can't

find them you write it down you describe

it in detail so eventually you can

either patent the idea which is always a

good thing or you can find the people

who can help you bring that idea into

being but it's important to remember

that we have to bring these ideas out we

have to share these ideas because if we

don't then the world doesn't move

forward we don't innovate and we don't

create and the last most important stage

I keep saying that is the stage of

testing and criticism or when we share

things when we bring them into the world

in the world of science is testing in

art in criticism in the real world it's

just sharing and asking what people

think and not being afraid whether

people like it or they don't like it

whether you've made something that's

wonderful or in the theaetetus what they

call a wind egg which is a philosophical

platonic word for a fart they call it a

wind egg sounds better in the Greek but

this idea of bringing things into the

world is really important and very

critical so I sort of want to kind of go

back over these to make sure we

understand everything there's seven

stages in this creative process and

these stages do not come in any

particular order but you have to learn

to recognize these stages the more that

you recognize them the more that you'll

be able to enter in and out of them

fluidly so it's not like you start in

one and now I'm going to - and now I'm

going to three but allow yourself to

maybe journal and keep track of when

you're in the state of research when

you're in the state of gestation I have

my students write down the feeling

states that happen while they're around

it how do you emotionally feel when you

get a great idea or when you pop into an

idea or when you've researched so much

your brain is just exhausted keep track

of those feelings the other thing is

that when you're in these states and

especially the fifth state these little

Eureka moments capture these ideas don't

think that they're worthless I've had

some really crazy ideas I was in Chicago

15 years ago at which University was it

the Chicago Institute of Technology and

this german doctor professor Epps called

me upstairs because they were going to

hire their first artist he goes why

would we hire an artist what can you

invent or imagine I said I don't know

what about a cell phone data projector

now this is way before we had the

technology and he said absolutely

impossible that's a dumb idea can get

that small the battery power blah blah

blah blah blah when the first white

paper was released by this and by the

way I wrote the idea down and sent it to

Nokia Samsung I'm not taking credit for

it but I sent that idea out into the

world but when the first white paper

came out I sent it to dr. Epps I said

crazy idea huh these ideas are really

important that we have and we don't know

how valid they are or how invalid but

what is important is to know to keep

them to make them and to share them so I

ask you before I leave the most

important thing that you take away from

this talk is to value your ideas and be

fearless in your ability to bring them

in the world and make them and share

them with one

thank you very much