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Dr. Srini Pillay, Best-Selling Author, Says Creativity Might be the Missing Link in a “Polarized World”

Dr. Srini Pillay, a best-selling author, neuroscientist, tech entrepreneur and an assistant professor at Harvard University, has spent a large chunk of his career subverting ideas on creativity and the processes behind human thinking. His recent book on Amazon, “Tinker Dabble Doodle Try,” has been a hit since its original release in 2017.

Now, Pillay is stating that creativity might be the missing link in an otherwise polarized world. “CNN and Fox, Democrats and Republicans, heterosexuals and homosexuals, women and men, North Korea and the rest of the world—these are the polarizations that make the news,” states Pillay, “sensational though they are, they are also reminders of how “splitting” is easier than “lumping," and how we seem to lack the mental reserve to unite people because we lack the ability to join ideas and ideologies.”

Pillay asserts that mapping the similarities between conflicting ideologies requires analogical reasoning. This means ignoring the differences and looking for commonalities so that even very disparate ideologies can be joined. “In some ways, we seem to be biologically compelled to take this stance,” continues Pillay, “indeed, some studies show that analogical reasoning may be inherited. But many studies also show that it can be learned.”

How is this related to creativity, however? Being able to map similarities taps into the brain's ability to innovate. In fact, the more people map similarities between ideas that are very different, the more key "innovation hubs" like the frontopolar cortex activate. But people also tend to be biased against creativity because of the challenge the change brings. When two ideologies are similar, say those of Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, it is referred to as a small “semantic distance.” And when the ideologies are very dissimilar, say those of Donald Trump and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, it is referred to as a large semantic distance. For the most part, the world reports on the differences between ideologies, and people choose sides. The result is conflict, disdain, hatred, prejudice and violence. Rarely is there a productive, intelligent conversation, and almost never is there an automatic inclination for people to look for similarities to resolve their conflicts.

The solution to this is creativity, and tt’s a good thing Dr. Pillay is well-versed on the topic. He is also a Harvard-trained psychiatrist with a clinical practice, a former nationally funded brain-imaging researcher, a Leadership Development expert and a Certified Master Executive Coach. It’s no question that he’s certainly qualified to tackle new ideas on neuroscience and the inner workings of the mind. He believes that if people are to evolve, they need to overcome cognitive dissonance by some method other than choosing one side over the other. For this, analogical thinking and creativity would be a great beginning.

“Rather than always seeing only the differences that exist between us, we have an opportunity for more creative living when we see our similarities too,” explains Pillay, “in fact, when we miss our similarities, we miss important possibilities for conflict resolution… we need to overcome our fears of creativity, flow and freedom and take on the challenge of analogical thinking. There are a few different ways to do this.”

The first step is to focus on the similarities. Studies show that analogical thinking is difficult when people can't focus on mapping the similarities. So first, people must be disciplined about focusing on these ideas. They should ask themselves, what traits are shared? As the list is built, a more innovative solution may occur.

The second step is to resist the temptation of making a choice prematurely. “Once a choice is made, there is no going back,” Pillay elaborates, “your brain goes into autopilot rationalizing your choice. A good exercise is to ask yourself, ‘What if I didn't choose?’ Many poetic outcomes have been described with this mental attitude. When people tolerate uncertainty and doubt and simply stand in the midst of chaos and observe, this is called negative capability.”

The final step is to accept and navigate the experience of flow. When someone is in a creative flow, they might feel overwhelmed. However, they need to recognize that their anxiety is normal. Building breaks into a process will make the task fell less overwhelming.

For those who want to learn more from Dr. Pillay, the acclaimed neuroscientist is currently introducing people to his new three-day program, which was originally developed for Senior Leaders within Fortune 500 organizations. The title of the program? Transformational Leadership: How to use neuroscience to prepare tomorrow's leaders. The unique program has been tailor-designed by Dr. Pillay, where he works in an intimate setting to help attendees change their lives. The program will integrate principles of psychology, brain science, executive coaching and spirituality. It will be a rare combination of fun and deep personal work that will help guests look for the next-level in their lives, and find meaning and purpose. Guests can enroll in this once in a lifetime opportunity at the link below:

Dr. Pillay trained in the specialty of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, where he graduated as a top award winner in the United States, garnering 13 rewards. Following this, he continued an active clinical practice, and completed 17 years of nationally funded research in brain-imaging. On account of his corporate clientele with stress and anxiety, he became a certified master coach and was an early pioneer in neurocoaching. As of 2018, no neurocoach worldwide had completed as much in-depth psychological work as Dr. Pillay.

“Taking a side and making a choice are not the only intelligent solutions to conflict,” Pillay concludes, “sometimes it makes sense to explore creative solutions by more explicitly innovating by making connections. When you do, your brain will work extra hard to come up with solutions that linear thinking would probably not solve. It’s all about the process.”

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