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students get changing your identity to be more creative

A few days ago I gave a lecture to some students at Brookes University in Oxford. I was talking about being more polymathic as a way of becoming more creative. Being polymathic means having several areas of expertise you can dip into to get new ideas and solutions. But the start of being polymathic is very simple: change your self-image, change your identity.

Maybe because they were not yet set in their ways, I could sense I had made a point that went home. The room sort of opens out when everyone 'gets something'. All performers know this sensation (and the opposite, the feeling of being marooned at the wrong end of a telescope when you're 'dying' on stage). Anyway, they got the idea straightaway: think of yourself as a polymathist and not as a 'student', 'manager', 'scientist' and so on. This doesn't preclude being ANY of those things, after all being a manager doesn't mean you can't also be a husband, father or birdwatcher. What it DOES mean is that one should have other areas (which you might even keep quiet about) of expertise that you can draw on as a resource for new ideas, strategies, mental balance and happiness. But this doesn't mean be a generalist. It means have an active learning approach to these areas.

When you think of yourself as polymathic you suddenly have permission to be interested in everything. You are 'open', and that is the single best frame of mind to be in if you want to be creative.

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