Maximizing Your Creativity + John Cleese - Carla Coulson
single,single-post,postid-7106,single-format-standard,eltd-core-1.0.3,et_bloom,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,borderland child-child-ver-1.0.0,borderland-ver-1.5.1, vertical_menu_with_scroll,smooth_scroll,paspartu_enabled,paspartu_on_top_fixed,paspartu_on_bottom_fixed,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-4.12,vc_responsive

Maximizing Your Creativity + John Cleese

Have your ever asked yourself where your creativity comes from? Or why some people appear to be more creative than others? Or why some of the most creative people in the world don’t make it? And is everyone creative?

This is subject I could truly harp on for hours about but I will spare you the drone and cut to the chase.

So much of what I have learnt about creativity on this journey from business woman to photographer has been by road testing it on myself and boy has my bumper bar got some dints! And this chat is coming from a girl who thought she never had a creative bone in her body.

Creativity is for everyone, we are all born creative. But often our creativity develops depending on the environment we grow up in and the influences we are exposed to.

I have worked with many creative people including artists, journalists, writers, photographers and illustrators and I have seen a pattern over and over again that allow these creative people to be successful at what they do.

I believe it’s the concept that the very funny John Cleese explains in this attached video. Which according to Mr. Cleese is the ability of a creative person to be able to switch from the ‘open’ mode to the ‘closed’ mode. Now you are probably wondering what the hell I am talking about but John Cleese explains it with hilarious punch lines so please watch the video at the end of this post.

All Photos Copyright Carla Coulson Italian Joy

Basically the concept is: in the ‘open’ mode you give yourself an allotted time, shut out the world and allow yourself to be totally creative, let your mind wander down any path it wants, try out ideas  and be free without interruptions or structure.

When your allotted time is over you then need to switch into the ‘closed’ mode which is when you put your creative ideas into practice and get things done one after the other like a super efficient secretary powering through a ‘to-do-list’ with a trail of fire blazing from her stilettos. In the ‘closed’ mode you aren’t scratching for ideas as you already created them in the ‘open’ mode you are putting them into practice.

But the party trick is that you need to be able to switch between these two modes to be successful and maximize your creativity.

The incredible talented people that I have met, worked with and observed along the way that didn’t follow their dream or make it happen, never seemed to be able to switch into the ‘closed’ mode. Likewise if you are always in the ‘closed’ mode you are not allowing yourself time to be creative.

I adore John Cleese’s concept and video because this simple concept is the way I have always worked   and it is has allowed me to be creative yet produce an incredible amount of work.

Bravo John this concept into words please click here to watch the video

If you watch the video I would love to hear your thoughts on his concept.

“Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up???. Pablo Picasso




  • very interesting topic, Carla
    have a great book on the subject
    I see that I need to get into the closed mood/mode to watch the video as it requires 30 mins of sitting still !
    will do so asap … only not right now
    have a great one
    sun in the sky and more so tomorrow

    March 4, 2013 at 11:50 am
  • Sally

    Oh Carla, I have so enjoyed this. I am going to put this into practice. I realise I already do this to some degree, open, closed thinking; but I love John Cleese fine tuning the concept, especially about being confident in the ideas that may come up, I personally have often had an interesting idea, that I then tend to squash once thinking in the more tunnel visioned closed mind, or else someone else squashes. Thank you thank you for this. I might still get to refurbish that stone house in Italy. Xxxxxx

    March 4, 2013 at 12:44 pm
  • Sue

    Hi Carla,

    Thank you so much for sharing this link. It’s been a revelation to me. I’ve never heard of the ‘open’ and ‘closed’ modes before in relation to creativity and why some people achieve more success in their creative endeavours than others. It makes so much sense.

    And to hear it in the inspiring and humorous words of the great Mr Cleese was just too good! His use of humour in the telling really helped the message and concept sink in.

    I realise that these days I allow myself virtually no time in the ‘open’ mode. There’s always such an overwhelming amount of ‘stuff’ to be done. My last workplace (which I’ve thankfully recently left) was an organisation permanently stuck in the ‘closed’ mode, stifling most attempts at playful brainstorming and creative endeavour. And, recently, I seem to have lost the ‘oasis’ of space and time it takes to enjoy and experiment with my photography as well.

    When I’ve allowed myself the opportunity to play and ponder in the past, wonderful things have happened. In particular, a few years ago I had a one hour drive to and from work and I used the time to just think and problem solve. I’d decide at the start of my trip what topic I’d focus on and then just let my mind wander and explore options for the full hour. Amazingly creative and successful outcomes ensued!

    So now that I better understand the connection between ‘play’ and ‘pondering’ and developing my creativity, I will make immediate changes and build space and time into my weekly routine as he suggests.

    Thank you, thank you xx
    (PS: I’m a graduate of your Sydney ‘Get Published’ workshop last December. Applying Cleese’s 5 conditions of creativity will certainly help me to follow through on what I learned from you and get my photographs published!)

    March 4, 2013 at 1:15 pm
  • I could harp on right along with you on this one Carla. Fascinating and once again I LOVE the way you hold yourself up there (and out there) as a real life example. You are so super generous and never fail to amaze and inspire. Grazie ancora! jx

    March 4, 2013 at 1:27 pm
  • Linda Stephan

    Carla, Thank you for sharing this. I’m in the process of trying to make a very big decision in my life. This reminds me to step back a bit and not to panic. I plan to watch it again when my confidence needs a “refresher course.”

    March 4, 2013 at 1:31 pm
  • Alice

    Carla: just read your Italian book marveling at every page! Gorgeous! Now John Cleese has sealed the deal as he presents the open and closed modes….Well worth the time, though I did have to move about while listening, and I find he explains the back and forth, the open and closed modes, so that I can trust both parts –the play and then the producing…I love that you shared all this! Helpful and exciting stuff. No more either/or. Both/and
    from Buckminster Fuller days. Thank you!

    March 4, 2013 at 1:51 pm
  • Hello,dear Carla:-)*

    It’s just really great post,thank you so much!
    Because that’s SO nessesary just now….Making decision right NOW!!!
    And I think the way,wich Chelsee used here is mostly wonderful way the humorous way:-)))*

    And Oh,boy….HOW difficult is that point between: ”open” and ”close mode in your mind……

    I’am sso sory,my english isn’t good and I need more time to understand this speech,and I want to listten it once more because it’s absolutely great opening for your mind!!!

    I’d like this qoute of Pablo Picasso.

    Thank you so very much for share it,Carla!

    Wish you fabulously creative week,


    March 4, 2013 at 2:35 pm
  • Steph

    Hi Carla,

    Wow, a fascinating talk by someone definitely worth listening to. I realised he was talking directly to me when he said “It’s easier to do trivial things that are urgent rather than important things that are not important – AND – it’s easier to do little things that we know we can do rather than start on big things that we’re not so sure about”.
    Yep, to a large extent, that’s me.
    The concept of ‘open’ and ‘closed’ modes, as labels, is new but there are a lot of us, me included, who would have flitted between the two without knowing.
    My thinking time used to be when I was swimming, and especially in squads when we had long swims to do and lots of repeats. Once I’d settled into the routine, I used to find my mind wandering and I’d solve all sorts of problems. I’d get out of the pool having done quite a few kilometres feeling wonderful – from the exercise and problem solving. Oh how I miss those days!
    Thank you for sharing this.
    It’s now 1:20AM here in Sydney and I really ought to get to bed and then I can lie there and have a think ….
    Steph – one of your Get Published gals

    March 4, 2013 at 3:20 pm
  • It’s the most brilliant way to approach a serious subject with a great sense of humor. For all it matters it is the one that works the best, always.
    Mr. Cleese proved it so masterfully. Enjoyed his performance. Learning through laughing. And I loved the quote he used: ‘ You can’t be spontaneous within the reason’. How true!
    Loved this post Carla very much. Thank you.

    March 4, 2013 at 4:22 pm
  • So True!!!!!!!!!John + Carla, Thank you for

    March 4, 2013 at 5:36 pm
  • Thanks for sharing this – I totally agree with John Cleese…keeping your mind around the subject or “resting” on the subject.. then you will suddenly be rewarded with that light bulb moment.It does work!

    March 4, 2013 at 7:46 pm
  • Quite frustrated as I have an Italian ‘country connection’ and haven’t been able to download the video, though the comments are helping to pan it out. I always sleep with a manuscript by the bed believe it ‘seeps in’ in some way. It’s worth waiting for that light bulb to click on and then run with it.

    I totally understand these two modes and my biggest problem is turning into that secretary with heels – I’d rather be writing and have been penalised by this in the past. Balance! Xcat

    March 5, 2013 at 7:36 am
  • Wow!!! Thank you so much for posting this, Carla. Big thanks. Huge! x0

    March 5, 2013 at 10:17 am
  • Love this topic, Carla! So fascinating. And loved the concept of open and closed. Makes so much sense. Will have to come back to watch the video. Thanks for posting this!

    March 5, 2013 at 9:44 pm
  • WoW! So thoroughly enjoyed watching/listening to John Cleese. Love the concept of open and closed mode & space and time and time… it is a balancing act isn’t it. You can have millions of ideas, thoughts, dreams and light bulb moments without being able to put a single one into fruition – that’s scary…. its a great problem solving technique for life too!. Thank you for sharing this link.:)

    March 8, 2013 at 2:39 am
  • Carla, I have been looking at your blog for some time now and I wanted to tell you what an inspiration it has been for me as someone who has left my job as a psychotherapist to devote my time to photography. I have always loved taking photographs but thought that I was only mediocre. What I realize now that I’m following this passion is that it is all about the creative journey and that I’m having so much fun bumping into obstacles and solving problems along the way. Your blog has been so helpful with your fabulous photographs and your carefully spelling out the steps . Your workshops sound like great fun and I’ve put attending on my wish list. Many thanks, Clara

    March 9, 2013 at 3:07 am
  • How wonderful to be encouraged to allow oneself to make mistakes and be joyful in the pursuit of bigger decisions. I am not alone anymore. To play, to ponder at regular intervals, can sometimes turn out miraculous. This whole concept nonetheless, draws upon that commodity of glass half full or glass half empty realism. Pursuit in a positive way with less time constraints and open heart and mind, can lead beyond our wildest expectations. Thanks for that Carla. Play well. x

    March 16, 2013 at 3:26 am