What is intelligence exactly?
At school, we are taught that there is a right and a wrong answer.
You begin to learn that the answer to one plus one is always two, and the correct way to answer the question ‘where is London’ is ‘England’.
In this way, we begin to establish thought patterns.
We also start to learn the concept of intelligence. If you get it ‘right’ you are smart but if you get it ‘wrong’ you have some relearning to do.
But the definition of intelligence is a lot more multidimensional than we like to think. And it starts with Creative Intelligence.
The concept of intelligence has been changing throughout the years.
Psychologists have been gaining a better understanding of our environment and its impact on how we function, decade after decade.
Now, more than ever, there is more access to seeing how the brain works. So, we are able to debate the idea of intelligence.
At first, IQ (intelligence quotient) was determined by how quickly you could provide the right, logical answer. In other words, it would test your analytical reasoning.
If you’ve ever tried yourself at an IQ test, you would have found that your answers are timed, to see how quickly you can arrive at solutions.
This mode of intelligence assumes one logical answer. It doesn’t consider the reasoning behind the person’s answers, the context, or the experiences of the thinker.
It soon became obvious that there isn’t just one type of intelligence. The definition needs to be expanded.
Intelligence theories started to consider other skills when it came to identifying 'smart people'.
Some focused on one specific skill, like having common sense or practical intelligence. Others identified a wider range of mental abilities that were key to an intelligent being.
But there still wasn’t enough of a holistic overview of what comprises intelligence.
So, creative intelligence was added to the mix of reasoning abilities.
Sometimes, scientific research theories go out into the mainstream world and take on a life of their own.
This is exactly what happened with the right/left-brain theory.
Although it is true that different sides of the brain are responsible for different activities, it is also true that those two sides are part of one whole.
And they collaborate.
So, it is misleading to say that smart people and creative people are two different things.
Because everyone has access to creative intelligence just as much as analytical intelligence.
So, what is creative intelligence?
Psychologists define it as -- the ability to go beyond the given information to create novel and interesting ideas using imagination, innovation, and problem-solving.
It is the process of creating something new using the things and knowledge that already exist.
In reality of life, there is more than just one logical possibility that can lead you to an answer. The way to access those possibilities is through creative intelligence.
Think of it as simply a subset of the brain’s thinking, solving, and reasoning powers.
Which means everyone has creative potential.
The question is: how do you unlock your creative potential in a world that tells you there is a right and wrong answer?
Creativity comes in many forms.
Creativity is letting the world around you spark new ideas in you. It’s creating a path where others don’t see a road. It’s painting, it’s writing, it’s storytelling…
But it’s also: listening and discussing the opinions of others even when you don’t agree, repurposing your used items around the house, mixing fries with your milkshake...
It’s challenging the norm, the way things are at this moment in time. Because why not?
But why do you need creative intelligence?
Without creativity, there would be no progress. No evolution, no innovation, no art. We’d likely still be in the Stone Ages.
The human power of imagination is what moves things forward.
What are some ways to stimulate and nurture your creativity each day?
It’s easy to fall into the trap of ‘I already know all there is out there to know’. You already know how things work best.
This kind of thinking poses the biggest threat to creativity.
Alter the way you interact with the world. Think of something you do every day in the same way and then flip it on its head.
Have you always used your right hand to brush your teeth? Next time, why not try it with your left one?
Do you put sugar in your coffee or tea? Why not add something different? Marmalade, jam, orange peel, some cayenne pepper...? The options are there to explore.
Do you always use Google maps to find a new place? Try asking a stranger for directions, or following the road signs, or just turn off the navigation and use the old school map.
It will be awkward, uncomfortable, uneasy... at first but if you can’t face a little change, how do you expect new ideas to come to you?
Intelligence used to be judged on how quickly you came up with an answer.
Creativity doesn’t work like that. Your brain needs time for the information to settle in and for options to start to reveal themselves.
A research questionnaire about creativity placed this problem in front of an audience:
1, 2, 3, ?
What’s next? And gave the audience the options 4, 5, 8 to choose to fill in the question mark.
Within seconds, hands went up and the answer that most people reached was ‘4’. Logically, 1, 2, 3, and 4 should follow.
But when the audience was asked to spend a few minutes discussing with others, pondering if other options were possible, they came up with incredibly creative ideas:
Some said ‘1, 2, 3, 5…’ because the list consists of numbers that could only be divisible by one and themselves -- prime numbers.
Others came to the conclusion that the answer is ‘1, 2, 3, 4, and 5’ because why stop at four.
And a sixteen-year-old girl came up with ‘8’, but turned on its side ∞. ‘1, 2, 3, infinity’.
These were just some of the answers.
So take a break. Do something else away from your task at hand. Don’t rush. The worst thing you can tell your creative self is -- ‘I’m done’.
You might have already heard that ‘the best writers are avid readers’.
Great writers let information around them initiate a creative process within them.
Through reading, they broaden their database of experience, and, as a result, expand their ability to create.
When it comes to creative intelligence in our personal lives, we have to go beyond reading. And take care of the quality of information and experiences we surround ourselves with.
Go through your socials. Who do you follow on Instagram, what are you reading on Twitter, what are you watching on Netflix?
If it feeds your creative brain, then keep it. If it doesn’t, you might need some content filtering.
Find ideas that challenge your worldview. Discuss unlikely topics with people around you. Create as much intellectual diversity around you as you can.
Filter what you see in the mainstream because divergent views that challenge the status quo, are often rejected in the media.
Accepting the unknown is a big part of creative intelligence.
Many people fear what they cannot control, the things they do not know or cannot see. Which often leads them into inaction.
If you are able to make key decisions without knowing all the cooperative components, then, you are able to make decisions without solely relying on reason.
Trusting your gut creates a fundamental shift in your decision-making process.
Unlike logic, intuition comes to different kinds of conclusions. It reveals creative solutions that analytical reasoning doesn’t always have access to.
Intuition makes decisions by putting the faith in you, and not just the unpredictable, external world.
To practice your intuition in your daily life, meditation is a great exercise.
Along with its many benefits, meditation puts you into an alpha brainwave state, where you are not focused on anything in particular.
You can escape memories, anxieties, and the usual verbal communication that normally stifle intuition. In this way, you can tune into your body’s inner ‘voice’.
Another exercise to try is to ask yourself questions. When you are out for a stroll, listen to your body: does it want to turn right, continue straight, go left or turn around and go back home?
Finally, incorporate breathing techniques to stimulate fresh thinking.To clear your mind, breathe for 10 seconds before you make a decision.
This can be the most effective way to unleash your creative intelligence.
Getting away from the monotony of daily routine gives your life balance. Which contributes to how you approach your practical work.
Creativity thrives on novelty. So, if you can break out of your routine, you will find new creative energy.
Change your scenery, run like a kid again, sing in the street, dive into freezing water, learn a new language, go to a new class... and do it every day.
This is how you break the learned patterns and allow new inspiration to appear in your daily life more and more often.
And if you ever feel unsure where to find new experiences, check out Ken Hughes’ TEDtalk where he shares his 365-day-journey of trying new things.
Do you think you can find 365 ways to unlock creative intelligence in your everyday life?
You don’t know until you try.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Adventurous by nature, Valery has been a world wanderer for many years.
Her journey started in Russia, transitioned to the UK, and now she discovers a sense of home in nations all around the world.
She moves beyond borders - learning, participating, finding inspiration and familiarity in diverse cultures she’s had the joy of living in.
When not chasing adventures and out-of-the-comfort zone experiences, she explores the wonders of language and its impact on the self, the world, and interpersonal communication.
She never ceases to seek opportunities for self-development and to contribute to a brighter future for the world around her.
You can discover some of her experiences on https://medium.com/@valeryvoyager