I had a wonderful conversation a few days ago with some great minds about divergent thinking especially when involved with kids. In a nutshell divergent thinking is the creative thought process that looks at many possible outcomes.
It’s well known that young children (specifically kindergarten age) have the highest divergent thinking of all ages. It naturally declines as we age and here is where I wonder why do we do that to ourselves?
A six year old will look at a tree and imagine it as a great tower. The grass around them quickly becomes molten lava and they have just a moment to get to the first branch before they are encased in the flowing fire stream. At the top of the tower a beautiful princess cries in distress about the impending arrival of the dragon and her demise.
Moving stealthily from branch to branch, higher and higher, a sparrow flies overhead and it’s shadow is cast on the upturned face of the six year old. This quickly becomes the shadow of the dragon and its breath is scorching the tender neck of our rescuer. Now near the pinnacle of the tower the six year old reaches to grab one of the fluffy clouds that is certainly in reach to create a floating vehicle to transport our hero and the princess to safety.
In contrast, a 35 year old woman looks at the tree and wonders when it will fall and damage the roof of her home.
She never hears the cries of the princess or sees the great shadowy wing span of the dragon in flight.
Where have we lost the hero thinking and gained the real life view of the tree?
Here is where conformity thinking, insecurity and the fear of failure comes in. Somewhere along the way of growing up we ceased to escape the molten lava because some of our friends laughed at us because it was just grass. We forgot the flames licking at our ankles and walked slowly from the tower as it transformed into nothing but a tree sprouting from grass.
We became aware of judgement which fed our self-esteem and became afraid to be different. We began to accept the logical outcomes of situations as deemed by our peers and the (in our opinion) more educated society.
What if in our adult life we began to hear the princess’ cries again? What if we cultivated our own natural and child-like, but suppressed curiosity again? What if we looked at a situation in our life and rather than accept the most logical solution we began to color outside the lines again? What if we tuned out our own insecurities and went off to slay our dragons?
Could you really look at anything the same again? Would you finally see the tower of your youth again and be ready to climb?