An elderly man was harassed every afternoon by a group of kids on their way home from school. They'd ring his doorbell and run, or taunt him while he was working in his garden, or throw things at his house. He shouted at them, and thought about calling the police or talking to their parents, but then he had a better idea.
On a Monday afternoon, when the kids ran by at the usual time, he called them together. "I'm an old man, and I don't get much company," he told them. "I want to show you my appreciation for paying some attention to me, so each time you kids come by, I'll give each of you a dollar." That sounded good to the kids, and they each collected a dollar bill from the man. Happy, they ran off and left him alone.
On Wednesday, the man told them, "I'm a little short today, so instead of a dollar, I can only give you a quarter." That was still better than nothing, so the children took their quarters and ran home.
The following Monday the man came out of his house and told the kids, "I'm afraid I don't have much money left, so all I can give each of you for visiting me is a penny."
"Forget it!" the kids shouted, and they left. And they never came back to bother the old man again.
How's that for creativity in solving a problem?
Creativity and imagination are vital for business and personal success. January is International Creativity Month, so capitalize on your creative powers by devoting the month to exploring new ideas and strategies to make you more creative.
New evidence suggests that you can boost your imagination by just getting outside and spending some time in nature. Researchers from the University of Kansas gave a standard creativity test - called the Remote Associates Test - to four groups of backpackers as they were about to set off on a series of lengthy hikes. They also administered the test to a second group of hikers who were already four days into their nature excursion. This second group scored almost 50 percent higher in creativity than their counterparts.
Ruth Ann Atchley, department chair and associate professor of cognitive/clinical psychology at the University of Kansas, describes the findings this way: "Nature is a place where our mind can rest, relax, and let down those threat responses. Therefore, we have resources left over - to be creative, to be imaginative, to problem-solve - that allow us to be better, happier people who engage in a more productive way with others."
Similarly, some of us feel more creative wearing our favorite green T-shirt or checkered cap. Research suggests that the colors around us actually do influence how well we do certain tasks.
For whatever reason, some days ideas pop into your head without any effort at all. Other days you probably feel like you're digging for them at the bottom of a very deep ditch. Try these tips for generating fresh concepts: