It’s the system that this creative genius employs that can unlock your marketing department’s thought-process, too. If you’ve ever been stymied about strategy, terrified over tactics, cornered by creative or deadlocked with deadlines, Cleese’s suggestions will boost your thought-process.
* Use your unconscious mind to find solutions. “Every great breakthrough comes from the unconscious, ” says Cleese. While our culture favors the analytical mind which uses logic to solve problems, the comedic talent believes that an overreliance on our right brain creates its own set of problems. We try to become too efficient. “We are always trying to save time and we become anxious because of deadlines,” he explained.
* "Don't suppress creativity; it's like driving with the brakes on,” warns this now professor-at-large at New York’s Cornell University. Unlock your unconscious mind with a good night’s sleep when working on a project or problem. Often the unconscious mind works best on a solution while you are not awake.
* Avoid interruptions. Interruptions are the most destructive roadblock to creative thinking. Find a place and a time to think creatively without outside interference. . . no phone, TV, computer. Creative thoughts can be realized if people give them time and a non-interruptive environment. You can train yourself to be creative by just leaning to be quiet. If people put the time and effort in, something happens, Cleese said.
* Do not get anxious if a solution does not come right away. A highly creative person realizes that a more patient, less deliberative type of thinking is good for solving problems.
* Once the unconscious mind starts working, the results will be surprising. “What you will get is unarticulated ideas – vague notions and whims, “the actor/writer notes. “You will have no idea what will come up.”
* Don’t analyze the information or thoughts too soon. Cleese believes “you have to give it time. You have to wait until it begins to make sense.”
* Repeat the entire process. “Take the information from your unconscious, see what works and what doesn’t, and then relegate it back to the unconscious,” explains the Monty Python star. After all, Cleese wrote 13 drafts of the screenplay "A Fish Called Wanda" before it became a film!
The unconscious mind works for everyone.
Cleese demonstrates how the system actually worked for him. Donna J. Tuttle recounts this story in her blog entitled, Writeontime. The blogger attended a dinner party with the famed actor prior to his lecture. Tuttle writes. . .
“True creativity, Cleese says, comes from the unconscious portion of the mind. For example, Cleese once wrote down a problem. He left it for a couple of days, and the answer arrived in his head quite naturally when he wasn’t tumbling the issue over and over in his brain. He lost a script and rewrote it from memory. When he found the original script and compared the two, the second was almost word-for-word — except, well, better. Cleese believes his brain edited that work while it simmered in his unconscious, safe from real-world, task-driven edit mode.”
While I’ve read about this incubation/unconscious mind theory in various books, I’ve never really heard someone validate its practicality. I know that from now on when faced with a bank marketing problem . . . whether it’s strategic, tactical or creative , I’ll be thinking about John Cleese.