Learning Creativity from Disney

August 30, 2023

The very foundation of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is modelling. Eliciting and making explicit the mind maps which form the successful thinking strategies of people with exceptional talents. NLP explores the way people sequence their thoughts and how they utilise fundamental mental abilities such as sight, hearing, feeling and self-talk to organise their actions and perform with excellence in the world.

One such exceptional person was Walt Disney. You have all seen his work many times over and no doubt spent many a happy hour as a child and adult enjoying the results of his labours. The Disney Creative Strategy was developed by Robert Dilts based on the modelling of Walt Disney's creative process. Whilst this process is not traditional NLP, it is an innovation of the pure subject and I offer it to you as a useful tool for creativity and innovative thinking.

The Disney Creative Strategy is based on an NLP process called Perceptual Positions. In essence, taking perceptual positions means thinking about something from a number of different and very specific perspectives. In this instance, three perspectives are used within Walt's creative approach.

Dilts called these three perspectives Dreamer, Realist, and Critic. Each role takes a different view of the creative process:

The dreamer takes the perspective of free thinking and fantasy.

The realist takes a view of action taker, the role of translating the free thinking and fantasy into real world results.

The critic tests the reality of ideas, future pacing what will or won’t achieve the desired results.

All three perspectives are important to the overall creativity process. Dreamer thoughts which occur in the absence of realist thoughts may not manifest into tangible expressions of real-world outcomes, nothing happens. Critical and dreamer thoughts without realist thoughts just become stuck in perpetual conflict, the critic aiming criticism at the dreamer rather than the dream. Dreamer and realist thoughts might create outcomes which don't evolve into usable ideas without critical thought. The critic thinking helps to evaluate and refine the products of creativity.

Here is the process, have a go!

1. Place 3 post-it notes on the floor in a triangle. Label them Dreamer, Realist and Critic.

2. Decide on your topic of focus. For example, a project, piece of writing, your goals, a new training course, re-engineering a process.

3. Step into the ‘dreamer’ space. Place your eyes in an upward position and visualise all the different ways you could move forward. Anything goes at this point, discount nothing and think without judgement.

4. Step out of the ‘dreamer’ position and make some notes about your dream thinking.

5. Step into the second position, the ‘realist’ space. In this space. Here, consider how your dreams may work in your world. Remember, think about how they might work rather than how they won't work. Put your eyes down and feel what it is like to be in your body as you experience your dream thoughts. What do your dream ideas look, sound and feel like as you put them into your world?

6. Step out of the ‘realist’ position and make some notes about your experience.

7. Step into the ‘critic’ space. Think about everything that won’t work about your dream thinking when you put them into action.

8. Step out of the ‘critic’ position and again, make some notes about your experience.

9. Stand outside of the three positions and review your experience from each perspective. Note any thoughts that are useful.

10. Now, create an action plan and take action.

You can learn more exciting and interesting techniques like this by attending our Enhanced NLP Coach Practitioner Certification Training. Exceptional thinking is right here for the learning and we are waiting to welcome you.

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