Happy New Year!!!

Flipping over the calendar to a new year is always exciting.  And like any new adventure, there is both opportunity and uncertainty.

As we grow older, it’s easy to grow cynical.  At best, we get stuck into attitudes, habits and beliefs that hinder our ability to “think outside the box” as they say (the box representing those old paradigms that prevent us from seeing all the possibilities).

For a real estate investor, especially when operating in an economy that’s in flux, the ability to be creative is a huge benefit, if not mission critical.

We find the New Year to be an ideal time to implement change – both in our business and in ourselves.  So we thought our first article of the New Year would be about how to develop a creative mind.

As you might imagine, there is no magic formula (sorry!).  You can’t script or program creativity, otherwise computers could do it.  But there are some practical steps you can do to prepare the soil of your mind to be more fertile for cultivating creating thinking.

Remain Curious

It’s hard for a new idea to penetrate a rigid mind.  It’s like a little seedling pushing up against hard, dry soil.  Lots of good ideas never see the light of day because they can’t get past a closed mind.

It’s been said that your mind is like a parachute.  It only works when it’s open!

When you find your mind making assumptions and drawing conclusions before you’ve really seen all the evidence, heard all the viewpoints or considered all the possible outcomes, stop yourself.  Instead of making statements, start asking questions like “Why?” and “How” and “What if….?”.  Rather than predict the problems, imagine the possibilities!

It sounds easy, but it isn’t.  Nonetheless, it’s worth the effort.

Lighten Up

All those jokes about the best ideas coming to you in the shower are funny because there’s a big element of truth in them.  Sometimes thinking harder about a problem is the worst thing you can do.  It can be far better to get away from the problem by creating a mental (if not physical) change of scenery.

We don’t need to tell you how to lighten up.  You can go for a walk, take a nap, listen to a song, work on a different project, do some chores, or whatever.  It might even be something physically or mentally intense.  What’s important is to get away from the problem you’re stuck on.  “Freshen up” your mind.

Get Positively Chatty

Getting more brains on the problem is usually the best thing to do.  But if you aren’t open minded or you’re too intense, no one will want to brainstorm with you.  So get curious and lighten up first!

But once you’re in the right mindset, go get a friend or two (or five) and talk through the problem.  And remember, there’s no bad idea in a brainstorming session.  It’s VERY important to keep the session positive and the ideas flowing.  Even a seemingly dumb idea can be useful if it opens up a new train of thought that leads to the solution.

Of course, being positively chatty about your problem presumes that you invite positive people into your “master mind” group.  If you or anyone in the group is close-minded, overly opinionated, judgmental, cynical, etc., then the energy of the session will be negative and the great ideas you’re looking for won’t show up. Worse, your chances of getting your big brained friends back for another session is in danger.  Creative minds can’t stand negativity.

So pick you Master Mind friends carefully! It isn’t complicated, but you need to work on it all the time.  The easiest way is to spend as much time as possible with positive, creative people.  But where do you find those people?

The best way to attract the right kinds of people into your life is to become one yourself and then go where the right people congregate.  Achievers are always looking for other achievers to synergize with.  And once you have some of those people in your life, they become a big part of your ability to find and attract more.  That is, achievers will not only be attracted to you, but also to the people in your network.

It’s very important to continually invest in expanding and cultivating your Master Mind network.

One of our goals for the New Year is to expand our Master Mind network and to spend more time with them.  We’re organizing events and activities to make that possible.  We’re also expecting to add many new people to our network (maybe you!) and to become members of other people’s networks in 2012.

For example, at this year’s Investor Summit at Sea™, we are very fortunate to have attracted one of the greatest collections of bright and creative minds in the business.  And it isn’t just the faculty (which is amazing), but the “Summiteers”!  We have people coming from all over the world to spend a week together to share ideas and build relationships.

The Summit, our field trips and seminars, plus our soon to be announced Inner Circle program, are all part of that process.  If you’re a positive, creative and bright person, we hope you’ll come and be a part of it all.

Meanwhile, look for great people in your own circle whom you can Master Mind with.  The go our and make 2012 your best year ever!