BLBO: When the going gets tough

When the Going gets Tough, the tough get ready.

Here’s the deal, this version of our visual, personal narrative-based storytelling is less than [five] years old. And somehow, we bloggers are trapped in the belief that everything, every thing we write or share has to be either a certain way or grounded in real life.


There’s a theory from the great Paul Ford at and @ftrain on Twitter. He talks about what makes the internet different from all other media. His theory is that the internet is actually the perfect Customer Service media – whereas radio can be enjoyed while washing dishes, or you kick back to watch tv at the night – the internet brings about the new mindset — WWIC — which stands for why wasn’t I consulted.

“Why wasn’t I consulted,” which I abbreviate as WWIC, is the fundamental question of the web. It is the rule from which other rules are derived. Humans have a fundamental need to be consulted, engaged, to exercise their knowledge (and thus power), and no other medium that came before has been able to tap into that as effectively.

Brace yourself for the initial angry wave of criticism: How dare you, I hate it, it’s ugly, you’re stupid. The Internet runs on knee-jerk reactions. People will test your work against their pet theories: It is not free, and thus has no value; it lacks community features; I can’t believe you don’t use dotcaps, lampsheets, or pixel scrims; it is not written in Rusp or Erskell; my cat is displeased. The ultimate question lurks beneath these curses: why wasn’t I consulted?

WWIC is the thing people talk about when they talk about nicer-sounding things like “the wisdom of crowds” or “cognitive surplus.”
“How do we deal with the WWIC problem?” Everything else comes after.

It’s what we get by opening up comments. Those rare and beautiful gems that say, “Why isn’t this gluten free?” or “That’s an AWFUL lot of nutmeg.”

Taken in the wrong context, those are creativity killers. Anticipating WWIC ahead of time will save you from a bunch of heartache.

You know this.

I assume you’re all highly creative. And creativity is the juice that runs this business of digital publishing. The creative stuff is what has that amplification – that social juice.

And brain science to help with creativity.

In studying the brains of highly creative people like you all, they’ve found that there are 7 different brain activation processes based on the different phase of creativity you’re in. By identifying these processes, and maximizing your environment for each of them, you can blow up your creativity at each level (for more on this, find the book “Mindset” by Carol Dweck)

We can do this. We can amp up our own creativity.

We’re going to talk about 2 of these right now.

The first, is the Absorb brainset. And it’s much more successful than what passes for inspiration these days – the cursory pinterest romp.

When we open our minds to new experiences and uncritically take in ideas, we can take in more knowledge that we can combine in different ways thereby increasing our creativity.

We’re going to get in the absorb mindset right now.
Take in a deep breath.
Close your eyes (it’s cool, I promise).
Let go some of that unconscious tension and start to recognize what’s going on through all your senses.

Feel your feet touching the floor – your shoes. Feel how your body is touching the furniture, how your clothing feels in a nonjudgmental way. What are you smelling? What’s the temperature like? Move through each of your senses.

Now you’re quieting your sensors – open your eyes and continue this feeling of absorption. See how colors have become brighter, notice angles and shadows and all of a sudden you’re aware of more stimuli coming in from your senses.

Basically, you’re priming your brain to accept better and more information. As soon as you’re not filtering out this information, you have more available to you to recombine in creative and original ways.

Another brainset to maximize your creativity is the Envision brainset.

You’re thinking visually rather than verbally. You can see and manipulate objects in your minds’ eye. You’ll see comparisons between 2 things that seem far removed from them originally.


Look around you in your environment. And think about the consequences if something were changed. What if – avocados grew hair. What if you had six arms instead of 2.

How would the world change?

Once you see these consequences, you’re actually forging pathways in the brain that allow you to activate this Envision brainset in the future.
These are things that children do all day long.

Kids aren’t filtering out what we adults need to filter out — our prefrontal cortex helps us plan for the future and it does this by judging the rest of what’s coming in.

This helps us increase the signal to noise ration. We grown ups have goals, and our goals keep our brains on track.

Therefore we only notice what’s in line with our goals or what we need to survive.

Kids don’t have this level of prefrontal cortex development — they’re still getting this information and they wonder about it – they have the freedom to play WHAT IF all day long, because their brains are built for it.

But to be creative — we need to turn down that prefrontal activator so we can have better ideas, combinations, new creative thoughts. Right now, things are changing so rapidly, we need to be able to adapt and take the next step rather than following an already delimited pathway.

Absorb and envision.

One Comment

Comments are closed.