Be Creative Genius - It's all about the problem solving | creative thinking | critical thinking | life skills | life lessons

We are entering uncharted territory. My oldest is getting ready to go to college… with early graduation. It’s all happening too quickly. I am in problem solving mode…

Most importantly, he wants to do so many things and learn everything I know. With him leaving early and the constant navigation of life’s hurdles, we are running out of time. If I had to give my son a TLDR-summary* of the most important life skills, they would be:

  1. how to be continuously creative
  2. how to problem solve
  3. be a lifelong learner
  4. question everything

* note: for the parents that didn’t learn this from their kids yet, TLDR = “too long; didn’t read”

The importance of creativity

Every experience, lesson, success and failure is brought together from our own unique lives. The way we take on a project or problem is definitely ours alone. Each person has their own learning journey to discovery.

I now realize how crucial creativity is for everyday living. It’s the spark that provides inspiration, motivation, and ultimately provides momentum. But how do you apply creativity to every situation? Can anyone learn to be creative? How do you get things started again when you get stuck? Have you been there? This is only the first part.

Then there’s the problem

What if you can’t think of anything… or what if you have a great idea, but you don’t know how to execute it? What if you don’t know where to start? It can be incredibly frustrating and make you just decide you aren’t creative or that you can’t make anything.

This is the challenge I have with my youngest. He has ideas, but is afraid he isn’t good enough or not talented enough to execute his ideas. I want to give him a chance to gain more experience, learn new skills and break down the problem solving process himself. 

The biggest misconception with creativity is that it’s only about art or making something. Creativity in reality is the ability to generate or recognize an idea or possibility.

We need input

When my youngest was in preschool, he was fearless. He was an explorer. He drew pictures with great stories behind them and grand ideas to execute them. His favorite activity during recess was to take a magnet and go up to everything in the yard and do a check. “Metal. Not metal. Metal. Not metal.”

He was the scientist who was willing to go out and try things. To see what works and what doesn’t.

Somewhere along the way, he lost that spark. I saw this in myself too. Because I felt that I lacked resources and skills, I started to believe that I couldn’t achieve my goals. I felt I just wasn’t capable enough. We just needed to see things from a different perspective.

Challenging traditional learning

Schools and teachers teach you their way of doing things. This is also what they’ve been taught. We follow their methods and how they teach but is it the only way? If we aren’t learning, which is the ultimate goal, shouldn’t we think of a way to improve and find what works for us?

A Harvard study challenged the idea of traditional lectures vs active learning. In the study half of the class attended lectures, while the other half participated in active learning. When surveyed, the students believed that traditional lectures provided the best mode of instruction, but when tested, they found the active learners scored higher. First of all, they didn’t believe active learning was effective. Second, it does take more effort for the students, but the results show which is the better option.

I’ve spent the past 10 years working with districts, schools and educators in the educational technology industry, helping to develop transformational learning tools and environments. What is the first thing they teach you in school? You have to understand the question, identify the problem, and know what the true issue is.

Now I realize we won’t be able to apply this learning style in every classroom and every school. But we can be active learners in everyday life. Ask questions! Challenge the status quo! Collaborate with others! Learn from history and tradition in order to move forward. The goal is to be able to apply creativity and problem solving to any challenge in life.

It's all about the Problem Solving - the Big Idea | creative thinking | problem solving | critical thinking | life skills | lessons learned

And so it begins

So we come back to the beginning with the initial problem. How do we start? We break it down, take it one step at a time, and be mindful of what we are learning. All the base skills we learned in grade school can be applied to everyday life. In this case, we are using the scientific method.

For each small problem we take on, it’s a step forward in learning about ourselves. But we have to document, change one thing at a time as an experiment. From there we can find what works for us, what doesn’t, and where we can improve.

Have you ever had one of those days where you feel overwhelmed and don’t know what to do next? Be Creative Genius gets to the core of effective learning to find solutions for a thriving and productive life. Often people get stuck in the everyday grind and have forgotten how to be creative and solve problems they are facing. We break down all the misconceptions from what we have previously learned in order to discover what motivates us to do bigger and better things. Through trial and error, we combine education and science in our projects, experiences, and life lessons.

We’ll share our discoveries as we deconstruct, debunk and experiment. The goal here is to work on creative thinking, build our experiences and skills, and find the most productive solutions to Be Creative Genius!

It’s all about the problem solving - creative thinking plus critical thinking lead to problem solving

The journey so far…

As an adult I now know there are so many things I should have learned early on but back then I didn’t know to ask. You don’t know what you don’t know. I look back and think I should have been more assertive. Sometimes you have to put your question out there. Try and describe it as best you can. Get others to help you figure things out. But we also have to realize that every failure and mistake is a learning experience. It shapes us into who we are today. Without the experiences, lessons and collaborations, we would not be where we are right now. I’m hoping you will help in the journey!

Get yourself a notebook or an app where you can park those fleeting thoughts. Especially the negative ones. So you can start asking yourself questions.

Be Creative Genius - It's all about the problem solving | critical thinking | creative thinking | life skills | life lessons
The goal is to be able to apply creativity and problem solving to any challenge in life.

I especially recommend a bucket list or mind map. It’s a great way to sort your thoughts.

Sometimes there’s a term you heard that you don’t understand. Often I’ll hear about a great book I want to read. Then of course there’s the problems that need solutions. But most importantly you might see something that could help you but you’re not sure what to do with it yet. For me because my thoughts are all over the place I find apps like Trello and Pinterest are great for this. I can organize my ideas with visuals and links to the original sources.

I eventually started this blog to put all my notions and theories together from what I have learned so far so I can share my successes and failures with my sons. Each person I talk to and collaborate with has helped me refine this process along the way. This blog will keep track of all our family experiments and things we learn. Stick around and let’s see where this takes us!

The Traveler: Illustration 93759929 © Grandfailure –

Creative Project: Illustration 133315654 © Mast3r –