Catalyzing Creativity Through Observation

November 19, 2020

Imagine you are walking into your office and it’s set up as you normally have it but … there’s a harmless martian sitting on top of your desk. Two heads, five eyes and a random amount of limbs – and this is a creature you have never seen before.

What would you do?

Most of us, knowing the martian is harmless, would go straight towards this uninvited guest with probing eyes ready to observe and interact with it. We would walk right past the lamp, the desk chair and the stapler. Am I right?

You are fixated with the martian because of its novelty. But what if the martian is no longer there. Would you enter your office the same intense feeling about your stapler or desk chair?

Why? Why not? Because of the distinction between recognizing versus observing. The other objects in your space have lost their high level of novelty. You already know them. No need to observe them. You’ve moved on. But now it’s time to ‘move on back’ to the mundane.


It’s time to unleash the sleeping giant of observation.

Dr. Robert Root-Berstein noted, “The keenest observers make use of every kind of sensory information. In fact, the greatest insights often come to individuals who are able to appreciate the ‘sublimity of the mundane’ the deeply surprising and meaningful beauty in everyday things.”

Opening your senses and finding the beauty in the basics is the beginning of observation.

Recognizing Versus Observing

Let’s highlight the distinction between recognizing and observing things all around you.

Recognizing is defined by identifying things because you’ve encountered it before and you acknowledge its existence. You see it’s there, you know it’s there but there isn’t an intense connection to the object, person, or the concept.

But an observation is an intense ‘paying attention to’ and noticing the details and subtle elements of an object, person, concept or situation.

Everyday we mindlessly walk past creative inspiration because we’re merely ‘recognizing’ items without truly ‘observing’ them. Therefore we miss beautiful experiences and critical information we could have otherwise utilized in our creative process. We do this often, especially in nature, which has so many innovative messages to give us.

As a part CAFFE’s creativity training, we have you think mostabout what you currently think least about; things you walk past everyday. It’s in this process that we discover new ideas, solutions and inventions that others are missing. We’re to help you move from merely recognizing things to observing them again with a fresh new eye.

As we get ready for 2021, and prepare for a new start, we will need to look at things in a whole new way. Let’s work on retraining our brains to regain that childlike skill of truly observing the world around us.

Join us this Friday, November 20th, 2020 at 12pm PST as we talk about the power of observation with the EPIC Impact Society. Register Here!