Mycelium drafting table, a 10x10 grid breaking knowledge down into 100 different fields
Mycelium drafting table, a 10x10 grid breaking knowledge down into 100 different fields
Drafting table for the game Mycelium, breaking knowledge into 100 categories

Creativity has two very simple parts.

1. Know lots of things about lots of things

2. Be able to join those things together

I want to give you a really simple tool, or exercise, that shows you what this means. It’s one I use pretty much any time I tackle a creative thinking problem. It’s really helpful for

• generating unexpected ideas

• enabling you override your mind’s tendency to tell you that certain things don’t belong together, that “this or that isn’t relevant here”

I call it “taking an idea for a walk.”

It’s really just another way of…

Weightlifting plates and tyres at an outside gym
Weightlifting plates and tyres at an outside gym
The Trackside Gym at Oxford University’s Roger Bannister Track

Let me start with a link to the One Day challenge for newcomers.

As a multipotentialite, to use Emilie Wapnick’s term, I have always done many things at once, but in the past year I have been actively training towards many things at the same time. And I wanted to pass on some of the things I have learned so far. Especially some of the adjustments I have had to make to the way I frame things.

As a reminder, here are the events I will be doing, within the space of 24 hours, next June. …

To really learn to think creatively is to develop a maker culture for the mind.

Using a 3D printer to make thngs
Using a 3D printer to make thngs
Photo by Science in HD on Unsplash

When I teach creativity to organizations and to individuals, that is what I’m doing. I’m helping them build a making culture for the mind.

The best makerspaces are a combination of piles and piles of every imaginable idea-provoking thing you can find and open access to every tool you could possibly need to make those provoked ideas into something amazing.

A maker culture for the mind is no different. On the one hand you have piles and piles of vibrant, various, random information. And on…

A path winding through a valley
A path winding through a valley
Photo by Lili Popper on Unsplash

What’s the worst that can happen?

It’s a question asked by a simple game I like to call “Oh sh*t!” The way it works is very simple, and based on the principle of encouraging imagination and originality that underlies many creative thinking exercises.

Any time you are considering introducing guidelines or rules on any subject, ask one question: what is the worst outcome that this rule makes more likely? Like many other creativity games, it’s best played in a group, and the results best scored by discussion. Using another principle common to creative thinking, the fewer people who have a…

(adapted from a chapter of the book Our Dreams Make Different Shapes: how your creativity could make the world a better place and why the world will try to stop you)

We need creativity because we need to build a better future. Possibly it is the only way of building a future that includes humans. It sounds really simple when you put it like that.

Ahmed Carter on Unsplash

But anyone who has ever tried to engage people in building a better future knows that it’s really hard to do. People don’t just “have creative ideas about the future and implement them.” …

An expanded account of the manifesto that appears in my book “Lift”.

The cover of the book “Lift: how strength training can help you feel at home in the world and in yourself”
The cover of the book “Lift: how strength training can help you feel at home in the world and in yourself”

The theme of next month’s Mental Health Awareness Week is “Nature.” It’s a great theme, but it’s also a reminder of the complexity not just of mental health and mental illness, but of access to nature.

When we talk about the benefits of exercise, it’s all too easy to forget that some people find exercising so much easier than others — and not just because they’re “more sporty” or for personal, historical, or social reasons around body shaming and body confidence, expectations of what someone who exercises should…

I won’t talk about the history of my relationship with exercise — or mind sports. If you are interested in those you can read my books Lift (on the former) and Our Dreams Make Different Shapes (on the latter).

A year ago today I picked up a kettlebell. And I set myself a challenge. And while I’ve shared that challenge (mainly, at this stage, so I can start raising funds for the fabulous work of Project Seagrass — do take a look here), I’ve talked very little about what I’ve been up to. …

Your knowledge is not the sum of the things you know but the product of the things you know.

A row of metal lifting racks
A row of metal lifting racks
rack, bar, weights, sun. All I could ever need

More than 20 year ago I read a line in an interview with the bodybuilder Milos Sarcev that stayed with me ever since. He said, “a true bodybuilder can work out in an empty room.” This was before calisthenics made that seem more self-evident, of course. What he was talking about was what bodybuilders call the mind-muscle connection.

It’s that mind-muscle connection I want to talk about. Because it’s at the heart of what has always made gyms feel unlike other spaces — and not just gyms, but all those “empty rooms”, whether they’re woodland trails or towpaths, or patches…

wispy white clouds in a blue sky
wispy white clouds in a blue sky
Photo by Nareeta Martin on Unsplash

There are many reasons disabled people don’t like being told we’re inspirational.

It’s not our job to entertain or motivate you (come back if you’re actually proposing paying us).

We don’t exist outside of society to serve some kind of deep, meaningful function for “normal people”. We ARE normal people. We are part of society.

Most of the time when we’re told that, we haven’t done anything special (this is part of being seen as being “outside regular society”). We’re just living our lives. …

Dan Holloway

CEO & founder of Rogue Interrobang, University of Oxford spinout using creativity to solve wicked problems. 2016, 17 & 19 Creative Thinking World Champion.

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