Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Shine On, You Creative Thinker!

Book Review written by Graduate Student Dana Calanan

With a quick pace and even flow, Paul Sloanes' How to Be a Brilliant Thinker: Exercise Your Mind and Find Creative Solutions is a comprehensive blend of interesting facts, mental exercises and foundational thinking in the field of creativity. Topics range from multiple intelligences to improving one’s intra- and interpersonal relationships. There are even questionnaires throughout the book to test one's own skill level within that particular chapter. While introducing creative thinking newcomers to the reasons why creativity is important, Sloane also reminds the avid creativity professional that sometimes skills or the lack thereof can be taken for granted, resulting in wasted opportunities for success. And for a little book (just 208 pages), this one packs a good punch with 32 chapters covering the basics of creative thinking and tips on how to become not only a brilliant thinker, but a well-rounded person as well.

In what seems to be the creativity field’s focal message, Sloane begins the book with the reasons why a need for creative thinking continues to exist. He gives examples showing how using/not using creative thinking may either enhance/hinder applications not only in business, but history as well. Historical events are examined with an eye toward how thinking creatively may have produced significantly different outcomes. Right from the get-go, the author engages the reader to stretch the mind with mental exercises that are proof-positive of the incredible power of change that creative thinking brings to every discipline. He also reminds us that everyone can use some brushing up on skills that are often lost due to laxity over time.

This book encapsulates many of the concepts that professionals in the field of creativity have touched upon previously. Sloane’s mainstream concept is an interesting experience with a fast, easy-to-read style. As a matter of fact, I was completely engaged and finished the book within a couple of days. His swift writing is intelligent, but not so heavy or cerebral in tone that the average person might not understand the principles or be turned off by the material.

There is definitely something for everyone here. Although I am familiar with much of the content, I found the chapters on mathematics and probability quite challenging. I took it as a persuasive nudge to face the facts and build my on my skills and knowledge, rather than run away from my discomfort in dealing with such content. My non-preference for clarification came through loud and clear as I read, and I have vowed to make a stronger effort to remedy this shortcoming. Other key points that I took away were different strategies that will prove to expand my knowledge base, such as new ideation techniques and the inspiration to improve on my communication skills in order to become a more confident presenter and facilitator.

The beginning of the book was more scholarly-based as opposed to the later chapters where the some of the content tended to be no-brainers for those persons who are already apt to use positive thinking and goal setting to succeed. For the creativity scholar or professional, this book may seem a bit elementary. However, it is highly beneficial for those of us who may have reverted back to our comfort zone to be reminded of the many forms of multiple intelligences that we all possess. Although some of Sloane’s writing may seem repetitive, it is done in a way as to more effectively implant and reinforce the thought, as opposed to merely being a way to simply fill the book.

I found How to be a Brilliant Thinker to be a useful addition to my own creative studies library and I recommend it not only to someone not well versed in the subject of creativity, but to my colleagues as well. It is a quick refresher for those of us striving to stretch our minds and a sufficient introductory guide for new creative studies students. In short, this book can prove beneficial to any person seeking to hone creative thinking skills in their personal and professional lives.

Ms. Calanan has a BS in Fashion from SUNY @Buffalo State. She has been a clothier and entrepreneur, having owned both a vintage & consignment clothing boutique. Dana also worked extensively in theatrical costuming and most recently left her career on Broadway to pursue other interests. This has serendipitously led her to the International Center for Studies in Creativity. Dana’s curiosities are vast, but passions lie in aesthetics, parapsychology, self-healing and violence awareness.

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