Book Review: Bumped Into The Wall
As someone who publishes his ideas and opinions on a regular basis, I also value the opinion of my peers on the quality of my ideas. So, it’s not surprising to me that, from time to time, I am approached by authors to review their books, articles, or other written works. This is something that I’m happy to do. Some time ago, Amyn Lalji, an author in Lisbon, Portugal, asked me to review his book, Bumped Into The Wall, a book on overcoming creativity blockages.
Amyn is an educator, management consultant, and leadership coach. He is also the founder of YouPerform, a Lisbon-based company that conducts seminars and workshops on creativity and leadership development.
Artists sometimes experience times where the creative muse is simply not available to them. Writer’s are heard to complain about writer’s block. Song writers hit dry spells, where music and lyrics evade them to the point of frustration. Performers who publish their first music CD struggle on the second one, for fear of being branded a “One-Hit Wonder”. The more they wrestle with the process, the harder it seems to make something happen. The arts are not the only discipline where creativity is not only advantageous to have, but even necessary. Business managers struggle to find creative solutions to problems that they face. Entrepreneurs seek creative marketing plans to promote their business or products. They, like those in the arts, are bewildered when creativity takes a holiday. Amyn’s book is for those experiencing a creative dry spell that tries to identify what causes them and offers possible solutions.
Amyn begins the book with a quick self-assessment for readers on their own perceptions on how they are able to see the “big picture”, blaze new trails, how well they can use fear rather than falling prey to it, and whether they can empathize and see with their heart as well as their eyes.
The next section of the book examines seven different things that can block creativity. Amyn calls them walls and they include fear, ambiguities, rules, habits, logic, same path (using well-worn areas to try to find new ideas), and taken over (allowing right and left side of one’s brain to dominate). He also states that it is possible to hit several walls at once, making it more difficult to find one’s way out.
Finally, the last section is a collection of strategies that help to overcome creative inertia. From getting it out of your mind and on paper, working with someone who is creative, going to unusual places to get ideas, looking outside of our expertise and comfort zone for ideas, drawing instead of using words, mind-mapping, to calming one’s mind, this section is a repository of strategies for the taking.
The ideas presented in the book work. In fact, they are commonly known and are part of many leadership and productivity programs and books. Although I really didn’t find anything new and earth-shattering here, it was nice to have the ideas inside one cover. Normally, I search numerous sources when I do research for a piece of writing that I must complete. This could be seen as a one-stop shop in that regard.
I wish, however, Amyn would have gone into greater depth in his discussions. The book is 112 pages in length and is a little light in the amount of information that it provides. Each page contains copious white space. For each strategy, for example, there are 1 – 3 short paragraphs about the strategy, a few bullet points, and, sometimes, a photograph or illustration. Although Amyn recommends reading this book with index cards, Post-It Notes, or a notebook, there is plenty of space on the pages themselves to take notes. In fact, the book can be read in about an hour and a half or less.
The topic of overcoming creative constipation is such fertile ground that I felt the surface had only been scratched when I finished the book. I would have loved to have read about creativity in a historical context. It would have also been extremely interesting to read interviews of successful and famous business people, entrepreneurs, educators, artists, and managers where they described their problems, the role creativity had in the solutions they found, and a description of that person’s process for overcoming creativity speed bumps that they hit.
My Two-Cents Worth
Bumped Into The Wall is a book for those just beginning to look at creativity. If you’ve already progressed past the beginning stages of your study in creativity, you probably, like me, will only find familiar ideas sketched here.