You exercise your body to stay physically in shape, so why shouldn't you exercise your brain to stay mentally fit? With these daily exercises you will learn how to flex your mind, improve your creativity and boost your memory. As with any exercise, repetition is necessary for you to see improvement, so pick your favorite exercises from our daily suggestions and repeat them as desired. Try to do some mentalrobics every single day!
Icebreakers are little exercises that help relax tension and loosen up a formal atmosphere in a meeting where you want to have creative ideas and group participation.
Here is one to try at your next meeting:
Sit in a circle and pick one person to start. This person should say their name and a one-word description about themselves that starts with the first letter of their name. For example: "Juggling Jake." Going clockwise, the next person would repeat this and add their own information: "Juggling Jake, Golfing George." Continue around the circle until everyone has participated. Not only does this icebreaker introduce everyone to everyone else, but it also tells you a little about each person.
It is likely that you have been in a meeting or lecture where there were awkward silences, people who don't participate, and a general feeling of disconnectedness. Icebreakers can help infuse some much-needed energy into these unproductive meetings.
Icebreakers are little exercises that help relax tension and loosen up a formal atmosphere. Starting a meeting or brainstorm with an icebreaker can help get the creative juices flowing and get everyone in a mood to participate.
An icebreaker should not exceed 15 minutes. After all, you do want to get something done, don't you? You should also pay attention to the age of your group and the skills required to complete the icebreaker. You don't want to make an elderly gentleman hop around the room like a bunny or ask a 5 year old to solve a complex puzzle.
The fear of risk is similar to the fear of embarrassment. Good ideas are sometimes not explored because the perceived risk is too great. Before you disqualify an idea or solution for being too risky, take a moment to quantify the risks involved. Ask yourself "what is the worst thing that could happen?" If the answer is that you might be embarrassed, then perhaps the risk is worth it. Often, it is the risky ideas that have the highest reward when they are successful.
Naturally, you shouldn't always take risky options when other equally good (and less risky) options exist. A careful analysis of the risks and rewards involved with each solution will help you determine which one to pursue.
As we know, the two hemispheres of the brain think in different ways. The left brain tends to be logical and analytical, while the right brain tends to be more creative and spontaneous. When you are using one side of your brain more than the other, this is called left or right brained thinking. Both types of thinking are valuable, so one should try to develop their skills in both.
Unfortunately, left brained thinking is the type that is most valued by our society and taught in our schools. Almost all of the major subjects taught in school (math, science, history, etc) depend predominately on left brained thinking. Rarely do teachers encourage their students to think creatively and explore alternate solutions, and rarely are right brained studies (art, design, music, etc) encouraged.
This over emphasis becomes even more problematic as students move into the professional world. In order to get support for a new project or idea, it must be clearly defined and understood (left brained thinking) by the people who are going to be paying for it. It's very difficult to get funding for a project if the goals are not clearly understood. As a result, creative ideas don't happen as frequently as they could if right brained thinking was more valued.
It's no coincidence that the really creative ideas that occur from time to time are usually self-funded by the inventor working out of their garage. These are the people who understand the true value of thinking creatively.
One of the most common reasons that people do not contribute ideas to a group brainstorm is the fear of embarrassment. Expressing a new idea to a group of people requires some bravery because it makes you vulnerable to criticism. This is why the brainstorm rule of deferring judgment exists, but even with the rule, it is hard for people to overcome this emotional block.
It can help to have the group perform some bonding activity before the brainstorm starts. A icebreakers shows that it is ok to be silly and say things that may be imperfect. The following icebreaker is designed to quickly get all the embarrassment out of the way.
On the count of three, everyone in the room should simultaneously give their best impression of a barnyard animal. Moo like a cow, squawk like a chicken, or oink like a pig. Preface the exercise by saying that anyone who does not participate with the group will be required to do a private performance. Once everyone has done something really silly, the fear of embarrassment should be lessened.