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Saturday, January 23, 2021
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Be More Innovative: The Mind Trick that Helps Spark Ideas

The world of nursing is changing and the ways to solve the problems that the pandemic has revealed in public health, nursing, and patient care will be to create new processes and tools. The best way for you to participate in this brave new world is to set your brain up to think differently. Drawing upon and integrating seemingly contrasting areas of knowledge, such as the arts and the sciences is critical for generating effective, innovative solutions to tackle local and global problems, suggests a study published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.

This integrative thinking comes from having a growth mindset of interest, which means that you believe that interests can be developed and cultivated. The opposite of this would be a fixed mindset of interest, which believes interests are inherent and need to be discovered.

3 ways to cultivate a growth mindset

1. Explore other fields

The study found that a growth mindset of interest can increase people’s tendency and ability to generate ideas that bridge their well-established area of interest (say, in nursing) with one outside of it (like the arts). People with a growth mindset are able to bridge two dissimilar ideas together, and those ideas may be quality integrative ideas.

What does that look like? The example from the study is to create new college majors by combining two or more existing academic programs, such as arts or sciences. Someone with a growth mindset may come up with Computational Linguistics, the use of computer modelling to understand natural language. Someone with a fixed mindset may only draw on one of these areas and create a major called computational chemistry, where computer modelling is used to understand chemical processes.

2. Learn a new skill

By not restricting yourself to the skills or the family of skills that you already know, you train your brain to be flexible and problem solve in different ways. In addition, interdisciplinary education enables students to develop a breadth of knowledge across different fields and teaches them to integrate these ideas.

3. Create a culture of interest

Promote and reinforce the idea that interests can grow and develop. Seek out workshops, courses, and certifications that are in a different area of expertise. Collaborate with people that have different areas of interest and expertise.

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“Understanding that interests can develop is the first step. It takes time and conducive environments to develop and reinforce that mindset. Ultimately, that may spark out-of-the-box thinking and game-changing innovations,” lead author Paul A. O’Keefe says.

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