Executive Development Developing Leaders Issue 23: 2016 | 39 Stress and performance pressure suppress creativity Being creative means to search for new solutions with a sense of the playful joy of discovery and a desire to design new things. You can only find new solutions for old problems if you succeed in opening simultaneously as many brain ‘boxes’ as possible, to call up as many experiences as possible that are stored and embedded in neuronal networks and can combine and associate with each other to create something new, e.g. a new idea: how a problem that used to be solved in a certain manner can suddenly be solved differently. For this creative process to succeed there is need for a very broad range of the most diverse experiences and to take a playful approach to the stored knowledge, without being ‘under pressure’. Performance pressure, excessive expectations and requirements that produce stress, ruin every kind of creativity. Under these conditions it is almost impossible to come up with something new when increased performance pressure and the associated fear typically forces human beings to refer to proven solutions. This fear affects the creativity and the innovative spirit like a tough oily film floating on a gushing spring. You only overcome fear if you are able to evoke another, opposite sense: trust. We human beings have three resources which help us to overcome fear and insecurity. First – the confidence in our own skills, knowledge, experiences. Secondly – confidence in the skills of others of cooperation, mutual help, as well as the confidence in ‘the understanding that others show’. Thirdly – the notion of ‘purpose’ and meaning, the confidence in something that ‘holds the world together at its core’ that ‘provides guidance’ and gives significance to our life.