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Using Brainstorming to Boost Your Career

Aug 21, 2007
Many men won't let the subconscious work for them. They are afraid of their subconscious. The subconscious is somehow unmanly, a woman's mind. Others feel it is frivolous, not at all gray flannel enough for their business. Still others believe it is a will-of-the-wisp thing that can't be trusted, that it will somehow betray them, and that it most certainly can't be trained to work in the everyday business world.

They are woefully wrong. Most businesses and professions are guided by the landmarks erected by men who have made brilliant use of their creative minds. The subconscious is crucial in the process of brainstorming.

Harley J. Earl, styling chief of General Motors, once said, "If a particular group appears to be bogging down over a new fender or grille or interior trim, I sometimes wander into their quarters, make some irrelevant or even zany observation, and then leave. It is surprising what effect a bit of peculiar behavior will have.

"First-class minds will seize on anything out of the ordinary and race off, looking for explanations and hidden meanings. That's all I want them to do -- start exercising their imaginations. The ideas will soon pop up."

The subconscious mind isn't a logical creature which proceeds from point one to point two to point three in a straight line. It's an illogical character who skips from point one to point eight to point three to point seven, trying all sorts of unusual combinations, making use of every observation and stimulus to create new solutions.

This is its importance. It is creative. The ideas that make a difference are the product of our creative minds.

One European scientist made a study of his fellow workers and found that 75 per cent had made their most important discoveries when away from the job. The history of scientific progress is studded with cases which back him up.

For example, in 1920 a Canadian surgeon, Frederick Grant Banting, worked all day long on a lecture on diabetes. The more he read about the disease the more confused he became. At last he gave up and staggered to bed.

Then in early hours of the morning he suddenly sat up, turned on a light and wrote: "Tie off pancreatic duct of dogs. Wait six to eight weeks for degeneration. Remove residue and extract."

That idea, shot forth by his subconscious in the middle of the night, led directly to the discovery of insulin.

Every profession and every industry has many such cases. One day in 1895 a man in Brookline, Massachusetts, found his razor dull. Let King C. Gillette tell what happened: "It was not only dull, but it was beyond the point of successful stropping and it needed honing, for which it must be taken to a barber or to a cutler."

His mind charged ahead. "At that time and in that moment it seemed as though I could see the way the blade could be held in a holder; then came the idea of sharpening the two opposite edges on the tiny piece of steel that was in uniform thickness throughout, thus doubling its service; and following in sequence came the clamping plates for the blade with a handle equally disposed between the two edges of the blade.

"All this came more in pictures than in thought," he remembered, "as though the razor were already a finished thing and held before my eyes.

"I stood there before that mirror in a trance of joy at what I saw. Fool that I was, I knew little about razors and practically nothing about steel, and could not foresee the trials and tribulations that I was to pass through before the razor was a success. But I believed in it, and joyed in it. I wrote to my wife, who was visiting in Ohio, "I have got it; our fortune is made."

In all the above examples, it can be seen what a crucial role the subconscious plays when brainstorming for creative ideas. Us it to your advantage!
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