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Roger Lee

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How can we use awkward pauses (which could be good) to generate creativity?

Stefon Harris's presentation, for me, was a revelation about the inhibitor of creativity, which is the fear of making a mistake. I think this is the dominant model where children loses their courage to be creative, especially in Asian culture where there is a mental disease of The One True Way of doing things.

In my presentations, I realize I have been interrupted by other people's cell phones a few times. Looking back on it, I react badly by calling attention to the person rather than being mentally flexible and use those unwanted and unplanned interruption as a way to re-engage the audience after the mental break off.

My idea is to ask TEDsters to contribute a list of professional interruptions or professional "mistakes" and how we can use those awkward pauses (which could be good) to generate creativity?

Topics: creativity

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    Dec 21 2011: I think it's interesting that you referenced childhood and a culture of rigid guidelines for behavior. Personally I feel that our childhood education should stress adaptability. Confidence is a major factor in overcoming the fear of mistakes. But alone it cannot give us success. We can pat children on the back and hand them trophies for participation in order to instill confidence. Yet that merely creates a generation that will gladly march off a cliff with confidence. It almost defeats it's own purpose because if the fall doesn't obliterate that confidence, they will merely march off the next one. And if we instill that confidence with the rigid behavioral structure, we have a society that is so opposed to change that despite the potential good of any new idea, they cannot easily accept it.

    However if adaptability is encouraged (along with confidence and through a lens of critical thinking) then we will have a society not only more accepting of change, but also able to benefit from it. This general idea of adaptability is, after all, one of the main pillars of successful evolution. This broader concept trickles down to mistakes being turned into opportunity. And individuals more equipped to adapt have an easier time not only recovering from mistakes, but also creating a profitable outcome from those mistakes.

    I guess my point is that the individual incident isn't what's important. I could easily come up with a scenario and decide how it could be utilized for creativity or engaging my audience. Unfortunately that scenario will likely never repeat itself so having a backup script of ideas proves as useless as the original script. But having the skill to adapt to whatever happens in general allows me to change my entire presentation on the spot at anytime. Sometimes the entire speech becomes a totally new animal. But so long as the core points were made, who cares?

    This adaptability has saved my bacon countless times...
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      Dec 22 2011: Thanks for sharing your story Zach. One reason I brought up the culture and educational system is that Taiwan (and to extent Taiwan is a reflection of Asian educational system) is based on a standardized testing environment., so. as you can imagine, deviation from the standard answer is shunned and severely over-corrected. (Even my left handedness was over-corrected when I was in the second grade.)

      I see this near zero-tolerance learning environment and the government's push for creativity business ventures,and I just think it's a mismatch between mean and ends. You cannot expect a good percentage of your highly educated citizen to be creative if your educational process is a mono-culture of standardized tests.

      I think your adaptability has a component of experimentation in it, in order to be helpful in a new scenario. After prolonged (12 year) of fearing mistakes, I cannot say high school student going into college will take advantage of the freer environments. It's like one of those invisible pet fence that administer small electrical shocks when you cross over the boundary. You cannot have creative mentality without embracing experimentation, and you cannot engage in experimentation as the default solution-finding mentality without tolerating and encouraging learning from mistake.

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