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Smarter change

Distraction Fear Creativity

Is fear a trigger for creativity, or a trigger for you to shut down?

Should you ask people to turn off their phones in a meeting or not, and if so will it make a difference?

This podcast from Kelly Leonard of Second City (yes, an improviser) talks about fear as a trigger for creativity. He’s in conversation with Jonah Sachs, the author of Unsafe Thinking.

Here are some tidbits, not necessarily related to each other:


Gandhi had to resign as head of London Vegetarian Society as a young man because he was too afraid to give a speech. He went home to India and couldn’t do his job as a lawyer because he couldn’t speak to the jury (he was too afraid). So he went to South Africa to a place where they wouldn’t laugh at him. He got kicked off the train for sitting in a white person’s seat. They left him on a freezing cold train platform in the winter months. He realised that the more he ran away from the things that frightened him the more frightening his life became. This change gave so much possibility for him: using anxiety as a fuel for creativity

Distraction – tell them they might be

Carnegie Mellon to study around distraction – text instructions to participants while reading, doing hard to do tasks. Some of the participants were told they might be distracted and some were distracted, others weren’t. those who were warned that they might be distracted but weren’t actually distracted did better in the tasks. so it’s useful to advise people, bring to the surface the things that may distract us, and then let’s agree we’ll turn off the phone for this period.


improv is a noisy group mindfulness

expertise can be a terrible thinking trap

More on creativity and distraction (which sometimes go hand in hand) here.

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