Some may ask how to develop creativity? You do not have to. It is practically limitless by nature. However,  there is also something in our nature which may successfully block it: the reptilian brain. This is the part of our brain which is responsible for the basic, instinct reactions aimed at preserving our lives: freeze, fight or flight. As you can guess, we inherited this from reptiles, and, although evolution had built more complex and advanced parts around it, this basal structure plays is at the frontline of any new situation – automatically and subconsciously. Yet any act of creation precisely means facing a novelty. 

And this is a problem. Instead of purposely using our logical, conceptual and imaginative potential of the cortex, we instinctively get stumped, or clutch on to immediate answers or initial ideas. Finally we use our sophisticated thinking skills, but just to rationalise the instinct-driven reactions. If it is a sudden situation on the road, that is OK, it may save your life, but, if it is a discussion at a project meeting, it may keep you quiet or make you attack a proposed idea. You may even, ironically, be quite inventive in that. However, this is not a life-threatening emergency. What is it then? 

It is almost the same as a reptilian brain, it simply protects your ego. Let’s face it; in everyday activity we are rarely confronted with truly life-threatening situations (in contrary to what insurance agents claim). To paraphrase Mark Twain – we experience in our lives many tragedies and some of them even almost happened. In fact, we spend most of our lives looking out for threats to our own ego and we use the power of the cerebral cortex to support the favourite techniques of a reptilian brain: criticism, perfectionism, procrastination etc. We will always find arguments, explanations and excuses. 

The reptilian brain sees a threat in everything that is new and unknown. Therefore, it prevents us from leaving our comfort zone and from exposing ourselves to assessment and criticism. As a result,  being creative and deliberately exposing yourself to discomfort may be seen as real heroism. As an old adage says: there is no growth in the comfort zone and no comfort in the growth zone. Try to become your own hero. Try to be creative.


  • 2015-03-20 15:21:56
  • Darek Olak
  • creativity, problem solving, innovation, creative techniques, personal development