The Creative Challenge

This post on Creativity applied to Physical Therapy was inspired by Scott Belsky’s tweet: “Strategy before tactics… AND mission before strategy.” This can be simplified to “Why > What > How.” Let’s begin with The Mission: Why.

With our Healthcare industry in flux we find ourselves in the midst of potent opportunity. The convergence of data-driven Evidence Based Practice and Financial bottlenecks will drive our profession through intersections of uncertainty. Such contingency of events warrant Creative progression from within the profession, especially the independent entrepreneurs. New business models, underutilized and currently non-existent collaborations, all lay in wait of a suitor.

Twitter hashtags such as #solvePT, #bizPT, and #brandPT foster creative potential via social media collaborations. I encourage all physical therapists (and soon-to-be PT’s) to join the conversations online. This #solvePT discussion on business models is one of my favorites; click on “transcript” in the left menu.

The Mission: nurture the exploration of underutilized and uncharted territories to solidify and expand the role and value of Physical Therapy.

Necessary ingredients in the Strategy of conception of novel ideas includes 1) The Suspension of Disbelief and 2) Projective Thinking. Often times new concepts require a dose of science fiction and free thinking unhindered by mainstream conventions. A little disbelief draws one into a world full of possibilities beyond obvious roadblocks resulting in something unimaginable, yet strangely obvious. Think of Steve Jobs combining design and computers, Elon Musk combining solar power and automobiles, Jeff Bezos with Amazon, etc. Moving beyond “can it be done” to “how can I make it happen” requires an strong dose of Suspension of Disbelief. Even scientific beliefs and “facts” aren’t immune to the Suspension of Disbelief; look here (Youtube video) and here.

“Projective Thinking” was coined by Edward de Bono “to describe generative thinking rather than reactive thinking.” Linda Stone writes:

… reactive use of intelligence narrows our vision. In contrast, projective thinking is expansive, “open-ended,” and speculative, requiring the thinker to create the context, concepts, and the objectives.

Thought experiment: What conventional excuses do physical therapists come up with that prevent them from progressing or expanding their profession? Are they truly barriers? Dissolve these barriers. What new possibilities arise? How would you change your practice of Physical Therapy if money were not an issue? Think through this everyday. Write down your ideas in a notebook (see #2 in the next section).

Tactics. Experiment with these 3 ideas to jump-start your creativity:

1. Morning Routineego depletion is real, so perform your most intensive & creative tasks in the morning. Reduce early morning decision making by automating your morning routine, thereby conserving your willpower for the most demanding parts of your day. Save the mundane paperwork for later in the day.

2. Keep a notebook – Steve Jobs said “Creativity is just connecting things.” Keeping a little pocket-sized notebook with you at all times provides the opportunity to generate a list of things to connect. This insures you don’t forget unique thoughts and ideas. In just a few weeks you have a basket of ideas to review and connect in ways you could have otherwise overlooked.

3. Forced PerceptionStefan Sagmeister is famously unorthodox and creative. When asked how he comes up with breakthrough ideas, he responded:

“One trick I use a lot is to think about a problem from a totally different point of view… The idea is that you take a starting point that has nothing to do with the project itself… starting with someone, or somewhere, else is basically a trick to fool the brain out of thinking in repetition.”

Thought Experiment: Write down names of 5 (new) people/relationships that can form symbiotic relationships with your practice as a Physical Therapist to push beyond conventional boundaries. Think about Physical Therapy from their Point of View. How can you benefit each other? Go through this thought experiment every Sunday.

“There’s no time like the present; no present like time” (Georgia Byng), so practice these ideas, exercise your creative muscles, and push boundaries.

Find me on Twitter @Cinema_Air


Letter to DPT Graduates

Dear DPT Graduates,

Congratulations! Your dedication and achievement is remarkable. Welcome to the Profession.

As you are aware, your new profession provides many avenues of growth through a myriad of specialties and environments. You will encounter the agreeable and challenging; and if you’re lucky, the unbelievable or unthinkable. Therein lies your opportunity.

Our world of political and financial uncertainty births opportunity. Change is the only constant. Move beyond the tribalism plaguing our profession; collaborate your way to success. While the pendulum swings relentlessly to the extremes, beware of boxing in your future by rigidly defining yourself. Look to these extremes as your opportunity to leap-frog toward your goals. As Rahm Emmanual said, “You don’t ever want a crisis to go to waste; it’s an opportunity to do important things that you would otherwise avoid.” Be open to novel possibilities. Avoid ideology; never stop learning. Stand on the shoulders of those before you.

One last piece of professional advice: DPT Graduate Do Not Outsource Thyself. Be indispensable. Keep this in mind as you make decisions regarding your new profession. You graduate with a strong foundation deserving of meaningful progression; anything less would be a disservice. In keeping with this advice, it is best to discover obstacles before you trip over them. As John Paulson said, “Watch the downside, the upside will take care of itself. ”

Congratulations. Welcome to your new profession. Be daringly great,


Find me on Twitter @Cinema_Air

How to get Lucky

All of us smile back when Lady Fortuna smiles at us. The question is how do we win her smile more often. How do we get lucky?

Richard Wiseman undertook a scientific exploration of Luck in his book The Luck Factor. According to Prof. Wiseman everyone can improve their luck by applying his four basic principles for generating good fortune:

1. Creating and noticing chance opportunities. Mr. Wiseman describes his experiment:

I gave both lucky and unlucky people a news- paper, and asked them to look through it and tell me how many photographs were inside. On average, the unlucky people took about two minutes to count the photographs whereas the lucky people took just seconds. Why? Because the second page of the newspaper contained the message “Stop counting – There are 43 photographs in this newspaper.” This message took up half of the page and was written in type that was over two inches high. It was staring everyone straight in the face, but the unlucky people tended to miss it and the lucky people tended to spot it. Just for fun, I placed a second large message half way through the newspaper. This one announced: “Stop counting, tell the experimenter you have seen this and win $250.” Again, the unlucky people missed the opportunity because they were still too

… lucky participants went to considerable lengths to introduce variety and change into their lives.

2. Listening to your intuition – Exercise your curiosity and find out where it might lead. The journey and/or destination could be just what you need.

3. Create self-fulfilling prophesies via positive expectations – beneficial effect of positive expectations have been widely studied. Click here for scholarly studies and articles.

4. Adopt a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good.

Lucky people tend to imagine spontaneously how the bad luck they encounter could have been worse and, in doing so, they feel much better about themselves and their lives. This, in turn, helps keep their expectations about the future high, and, increases the likelihood of them continuing to live a lucky life.

We can all use a little good fortune in our business and personal lives. With Prof. Wiseman’s help we might just get lucky.

You are now equipped to make your own luck; so stop waiting and start doing. Good Luck!

Source: The Luck Factor by Richard Wiseman [pdf]

Follow me on Twitter @Cinema_Air