The Big Idea
Creative thinking can be approached logically.
Questions I Answer
- How can I brainstorm better?
- What are some ways to brainstorm?
- Are there strategies to brainstorming?
Actions to Take
- Set yourself up for success every day by focusing on your evening routine. Do you have a solid routine in place to help you wind down and get enough sleep each night? If not, you need to get one mapped out ASAP. When it comes to brainstorming and creative problem-solving, feeling energized and well-rested is KEY.
- Give the Squirrel Strategy method a test drive this week! Challenge yourself to tap into your creative side a bit more, and use the Squirrel Strategy method to brainstorm solutions to a current challenge you’re facing right now, or ideas for the future growth of your business. (Fun Fact: This is one of my favorite brainstorming methods!)
Key Topics in the Show
How to tap into your creative side
The surprising way business owners are solving problems
Creative thinking and problem-solving in business
How to apply different techniques to solve business challenges
Resources and Links
- Related Episodes: 200: How to Use Futurist Thinking to Transform Yourself
This is The Intentional Advantage podcast with your host, Tanya Dalton,
entrepreneur, bestselling author, nationally recognized productivity expert and mom
of two. In this season, Tanya is continuing to open up more conscious conversations
to help you awaken to who you are and become the best version of yourself.
Welcome to Season 17: Awakening. Are you ready? Here’s your host, Tanya Dalton.
Hello, Hello, Everyone. Welcome to The Intentional Advantage podcast. I’m your host,
Tanya Dalton. This is episode 217. I’ve got a fun show planned for you guys because
we are going to a place we have not gone before. So let’s start it off with a question.
Let’s start easy. Okay. As the leader of your business, what is your approach to
coming up with solutions to the different problems that you run into from time to
Because let’s be real. We all run into problems, don’t we? Setbacks, stumbling,
blocks, little annoying hurdles that life throws at us to challenge us and push us to
grow and expand. And lately that’s got me thinking quite a bit about how we can
overcome these different issues that crop up and arise because they can be
incredibly frustrating. So we want to be effective,
but we also want to be creative because when we approach our problems and our
issues from a more playful, more fun perspective, that’s one business. Even when
you’re a serious business owner becomes not so serious, it becomes fun. And I
believe that is why most of us got into business. Not because we wanted to stress
ourselves out, not because we wanted to wear ourselves out, but because we
wanted to live life on our own terms.
And I think for a lot of us, that means we want to be a little more creative, a little
more playful. We want to run things on our own terms. And we also want to run our
business with the future in mind. This is that future thinking. We’ve talked about it
quite a bit.
It’s tapping into that sweet visionary spot that we like to chat about a lot on this
show. And this is when you’re not doing the day-to-day drudgery, things that come
up in the business, but instead you’re brainstorming; you’re future planning. You’re,
you’re really using your imagination to decide and create a path for where your
business might grow and scale to six or seven or eight figures, whatever is that next
mark for you.
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But I’ve got to tell you the ability to step outside of the box, to put all of your
preconceived notions about what should be done in business and what should not
be done, and instead to choose to look at things creatively; that’s a complete
game-changer. And not only that, but it helps to have more than just one or two
ways to approach a problem.
Anytime something’s coming up, if we are approaching it the same exact way again,
and again, we wonder, Why am I getting the same results? Well, because we need to
shift things up a little bit, and that is really crucial with our business. You know the
saying goes, Different problems, call for different solutions. So I want to give you
some creative solutions today.
I want you to think outside of the box. And when I say, think outside of the box, we’re
going to go way outside of the box. How can we tap into that creative side of our
brain and approach problems that come up in our business from multiple angles so
we can truly dig in and find the best, most effective solution that is really going to
drive us forward in the direction we want to go?
So, as I dove into this idea and this concept of, How do we approach things from a lot
of different angles?, I’ve come across a really surprising way that business owners
have been tackling this concept of creative problem-solving. And I knew, I absolutely
knew, I had to share it with you because it’s just too good. And quite frankly, it’s way
too much fun to ignore.
But before we dig into this, I want to take a quick little side note because I want to
admit this concept. We’re going to dive into most likely we’ll come across to you as a
little Woo-Woo. Okay, not really a little woo; it may come across as, like, really super
woo-woo. So there’s a little fine print for you.
But here’s the thing: When it comes to our business, and let’s be honest, when it
comes to our lives, let’s stop doing what’s expected. Let’s try different things. Let’s
test the boundaries of what we know and what we don’t know. And let’s see what
happens. I mean, what’s the worst that can happen. Right? So here’s the thing.
I’m not afraid to be unconventional. I’ve said that before. I think it’s always a good
time to shake things up. And so I wanted to dive into this concept because if nothing
else let’s like, let’s say that you’re a person who’s like, ‘I don’t do woo.’ I get it. You do
you. That’s absolutely okay. A lot of what we’re talking about on today’s show is going
to apply in other ways that you can use in a more linear fashion.
I wanted to present it to you in the way that I have been uncovering it. And it’s really
kind of fun. So we’re going to get into that. That’s my fine print right there. All right.
This is the thing I want you to keep an open mind as we navigate through this. I
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promise you, I’m going to add in some little nuggets towards the last part of the
we can explore how you can also access that creative side of your brain, because the
truth is you need to have more than one specific state of mind to really let your
creative juices flow. So let’s talk about how we do that and how we get there. All
right. Sound good. Okay. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I want to jump into
this new trend that is cropping up in the business and creative problem-solving
And that is lucid dreaming. Okay. I know I said, we’re going to go outside the box. I
meant outside of the box. And right now you might be thinking how in the world will
sleep, which of course is where dreaming comes from, but how is sleep possibly
going to help me find solutions to my problems?
The things that I deal with in my business, I have big problems. I have serious issues
that happen, and I know it may seem crazy to consider, but the truth is more and
more business owners have been taking up the practice of lucid dreaming and they
say it works. And I’m going to tell you it does because I know that myself. So let’s
back up a little bit. What exactly do we mean when we say lucid dreaming?
Well, in layman’s terms, lucid dreaming is what happens when we’re asleep. We drift
off into that blissful dreamlike state, but with complete awareness of what we’re
dreaming. In other words, a lucid dream puts the element of control into our pocket
while we are dreaming. Okay. I know again, this seems totally woo-woo.
But there have been a ton of different studies about the benefits of tapping into this
lucid dreamlike state when it comes to brainstorming and finding solutions to the
different problems life throws at us; not just in business, but in our personal lives as
well. And when I’m diving into these studies, here’s the biggest takeaway that I’m
noticing: because of the awareness that we have when we’re engaged in a lucid
dream, we’re able to control what happens, including the things that we do while
we’re dreaming, the things that we focus on,
the things that we think about and the very outcomes of the dreams themselves. So
the whole experience is within your control, total control. Yes. Sign me up. Not that
I’m a control freak or anything, but it is nice to feel like you’re pulling the strings. And
this is what allows you to really manipulate and cause your brain to think in many
different ways to approach the problem from so many different angles.
And here’s another thing that I found really fascinating as I was researching some of
these studies that surround lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming is essentially the
perfect environment to access our creativity and to arrive at different solutions to
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problems that we experience in our regular awake daytime lives. We’re able to tackle
those when we’re dreaming because there’s no judgment. There is none of this,
you know, subconscious brain telling you can’t do things because the possibilities
are endless when we are dreaming and we’re no longer bombarded by the
distractions of the outside world. We’re not worrying about what everyone else
around us is doing or thinking about. Instead, we’re able to truly immerse ourselves
into the experience, whatever that experience is of the stream and allow our
creativity to flow.
And this is because when we’re fully engaged in the art of lucid dreaming, we’re able
to tap into this state of mind called free association. Now, when you’re in free
association, you’re able to release some of the rigid expectations you set for yourself
in our waking life. Let’s back up there, let’s rewind. And I want you to listen to that,
that little phrase in there, let go of rigid expectations. You set for yourself, allow
yourself the freedom and the grace to play, to explore, to test things out and actively
sometimes seek failure to try things out, knowing it may not work, but just to see
what happens. Remember when you used to do that as a kid, that’s why life felt so
fun and easy because you weren’t afraid of failing you.
Weren’t afraid of falling on your ass whenever you were, you got up and you tried it
again. You weren’t afraid of falling off your bike. You went out there and you did it
again. You put band-aids on and you went out on that bike and we’ve lost that ability
as adults. We have lost that ability to see ourselves as being able to play.
And I want to encourage you, especially when it comes to business, we need to
incorporate more, play more playfulness, more joy into our lives. And that right there,
having this idea and this state of free association, that is the key to allowing yourself,
to test out the boundaries, to push outside of your comfort zone. And that my
that is what researchers say is the optimal space to tap into your creative potential
and to really get to the heart of those big problems you’re mulling over or rather
stressing over. And it allows you to uncover so many more solutions, one of which, or
two of which are 20 of which are actually going to work and drive you forward to that
life. You want.
It is really opening up that gate and allowing yourself to explore the possibilities. And
in fact, out of the business owners around the world who are participating in these
lucid dream studies, over 60% revealed, they were able to engage in lucid dreaming
in order to help them explore creative ideas, practice different things that they
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wanted to practice to boost their physical skills and to improve their problem-solving
capabilities at the same time.
Now that right there, that’s pretty impressive. I think you can agree. And this
happens while we’re dreaming. You know, here’s the thing is I know several seven
and eight-figure business owners who are actively using this strategy. And in talking
with them, they’ve told me this has been a game-changer for them. It’s really
tapping into this idea of what you already know.
It’s getting into your intuition and believing that you have the ability to answer your
own problems, to solve your problems, to be as Nicola, parents, old us able to heal
yourselves in a way in order to be able to solve our own problems. So I’m seeing this
again and again, with all of these women that I’m friends with, who are running
amazing companies. Now, they all agree. And I agree with this too. The first hurdle is
getting over the woo part, allowing yourself the freedom to explore your business in
a different and unconventional way. I mean, let’s be honest. This is not exactly
something they teach in MBA school, but not everything needs to be learned in a
classroom. And these studies that are coming out are really reinforcing the idea that
And yes, it might seem strange or yes, it might seem unconventional, but do you
really want to be conventional? Do you really want to do what everybody else is
doing? Or do you want to do your own thing? This is a way to tap into this. Now
here’s the catch. When it comes to lucid dreaming, it’s not necessarily something we
decide to do and it’s done.
It takes a little bit of time and it takes a little bit of practice to really prime your brain
before you go to bed to engage in lucid dreaming. But it is not impossible. I can tell
you that from my own experience, I’ve been practicing it myself and I’ve had a lot of
great success. So it’s really something that we do with intention.
Of course, it’s with intention. This is the intentional advantage. Everything we do
should be with intention. So it’s not as simple as just going to bed and saying, all
right, I’m ready to have a lucid dream. It’s getting in that right mind space. Really.
Now what researchers suggest is to help your brain arrive at that state of free
which we just talked about a few minutes ago. That’s the key to unlocking your
potential, to really engage in lucid dreaming. So having a really solid evening routine
in place, something that helps you relax a series of things that you do each night
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before you go to bed that triggers your body to say, okay, we’re gearing up a
relaxation. We’re gearing up for bed.
That’s going to help you. So having that solid routine and then taking a few minutes,
just to focus in on the different things you want to explore, those are two things you
can do right away getting your evening routine in place. And then just taking a few
minutes, just to think about the things you want to explore, not stressing about
them before bed.
Just thinking about them, getting yourself into a space where your brain feels, okay,
this is time for us to play. Let’s just explore basically entering that free association
state. That’s what we’re trying to do. And Hey, if this feels way too far out for you, no
worries that free association state doesn’t have to happen when you’re dreaming. It
can happen while we are wide awake.
All of this is really that free association. State is really about getting our brain in a
place where it feels like you can go to all the corners and it can play everywhere. It
wants to go and explore the possibilities. So here’s what we’re going to do in our
second part of the show. We’re going to talk about some other ways that we can
prime our minds to enter that optimal space for creative problem solving.
But before we do that, I want to take a quick mid episode break. Today’s episode has
been brought to you by the intentional CEO mentorship program. That is my 12
month mentorship program, where I work with female entrepreneurs and small
business owners who are interested in scaling and growing their businesses. And
they want to do it with intention. They want to align their businesses with their own
with the things that are truly important to them. I love, love, love working with
women who want to make an impact. And in order to make that impact, they know
they need to scale and need to grow, but we don’t want to do it while sacrificing our
personal life. So the intentional CEO mentorship program is all about women
coming together to support and encourage learning how we can run our
learning how we organize our business. So we can grow to that next level that we
want to get to while still having time to unplug. I like to tell people, I teach women
how to scale their businesses so they can unplug from their businesses. Because
when I am ready to focus on family, my personal life, my passion projects, I want to
go all in with that.
I want to feel good, good leaving work behind because it’s still running seamlessly
without me. And that’s what we do. That’s what we talk about in the intentional CEO
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mentorship program. I bring women together. We create community. We create a
space where we are there to encourage and support one another. And we are there
to learn. We are there to grow our businesses and we have amazing conversations.
It’s all about running your business as the CEO, not as the person who’s doing all the
work, but really creating a business that works for you instead of you feeling like
you’re constantly working for your business. So the doors to the intentional CEO
mentorship program are now open. They are not open for long. I’m going to be
honest. I only opened the doors for maybe a week,
every couple of times a year. It’s not something I keep up in year-round because I
really very intentionally curate groups of women. We work as a cohort and we grow,
together, our businesses. The community aspect of what we have created is
amazing. So if you are a woman who is interested in scaling and growing your
business with intention, aligning it fully with the impact you want to create in this
world, head to Tanyadalton.com/coaching.
I would absolutely love to work alongside you. And as I said, you want to go right
now, like pause the podcast. If this is something that you are interested in posit right
now, head to Tanyadalton.com/coaching, because these doors are truly not open
very much longer, maybe just for the next couple of days. All right. So head there let’s
work together. Let’s grow your business with intention.
Okay, let’s get back to our discussion on priming our minds to enter that optimal
free association space for creative problem-solving. I can’t tell you how important it is
to really just allow yourself when we’re problem-solving to think in other ways, other
than just the linear fashion that we’re so used to.
Let’s talk about some strategies that we can try, separate from lucid dreaming. I still
am a big believer in lucid dreaming, but I know you might want to have some other
different strategies in your back pocket. So let’s dive into that right now. First things
first, let’s just dive in and understand what free association fully means before we
can enter into that state of mind.
Right? So let’s recap that just really quickly. When I say free association is a state of
mind, what I mean by that is, when we’re in that mindset, we are giving ourselves
space to truly let our thoughts flow, without worry, without judgment. And we’re
allowing ourselves to see, simply. It’s like handing our brain a pencil and a piece of
paper and saying, go at it, do whatever you want, go through the different ideas and
just let them fall onto the page in whatever manner they come to us.
For me, I know that one of the easiest ways to tap into the more creative side of my
brain, where I feel most comfortable allowing the different thoughts and feelings I
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have come to the surface and simply be what they are is to take five or 10 minutes to
just meditate and to breathe.
This doesn’t just give me a sense of calm. It also gives me a release, especially after a
trying day where I’m struggling to arrive at a solution. And you know, that feeling
when you’re like beating your head against a wall? To me, the meditation; five or 10
minutes of meditation or just simply breathing, it’s like this reset button. and it’s you
and you enter it stressed out.
You do the five or 10 minutes, and then you walk away feeling, ah, so much better.
Yes, you have a sense of calm, but really your brain is like, thank you. Your brain
needs a break. We have to stop just going at it all the time. Trying to like force
ourselves to come up with solutions. I have found that when I allow myself to slow
when I quiet the outside world and all the distractions that come along with it, that’s
when I truly find my center is when I am able to ease myself into that state of free
association, because I’m no longer forcing it. I’m allowing it to happen. Now, if
meditation isn’t your thing, or you haven’t got your technique down because let’s be
meditation has a thousand different ways and forms. It takes. It’s not always Yogi
sitting on a mountaintop, you know, with their hands folded and everything else.
Meditation can be a thousand different things. Think about taking a quiet walk
outside, just taking in the world around you or listening to soothing music for five or
10 minutes. Those are technically forms of meditation.
They just don’t look like what we see on Instagram. But this is a great way to allow
your mind to wander and to prime your brain for the creativity and from there. Well,
it all comes down to finding different creative ways to look at the problems that
you’re facing in your business and lucky for you. I have a few tried and true methods
that I love.
And I want to share those with you before we close out. The first one is something
that you’ve heard me talk about before. I actually shared this strategy in my book,
the joy of missing out and it’s called squirrel strategy. And what I love about squirrel
strategy is it’s basically treating a problem or an issue like the word, no doesn’t exist.
Just like a squirrel looks at a bird feeder.
It looks at a bird feeder and it sees that there’s all these contraptions that the owners
have put in there so that the squirrels can’t get to it. Right? There’s like these cones
on it. It’s hanging from a tree from a long string squirrel. Doesn’t say, Oh man, can’t
get the bird. I can’t get the bird seed. This girl says,
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okay, that’s a no from this angle, how else can I approach it? And then it tries
jumping from the bench that doesn’t work. Oh right. Then it tries scampering up the
tree and jumping at it that way that doesn’t work. All right. What if I, and then it just
keeps going at it and it keeps tackling the problem as if the word no isn’t in the
vocabulary at all.
In fact for squirrels, I don’t think they take no for an answer for anything. What I love
about squirrel strategy is it really is saying there is a solution. I just need to be
creative in finding it. So one of the things I like to do when I’m using squirrel strategy
is I start off with the problem in the center of a page.
So all you need is a piece of paper and a pencil. So I start with the problem at the
center of the page and I draw a circle around it. And then I just draw a line out of
there. And then I draw a possible solution. And I just start mind mapping. I start
thinking about what does this solution look like? And when that one doesn’t work,
I go back to that center circle. I draw another line and I draw a new solution. Now the
solution might be very linear or it might be very, very creative, or it might be very out
there. But I take the time to explore all these different perspectives and angles. It
really is about approaching the problem, knowing that all problems have solutions.
That is something that I’ve said to my kids since they were really really little, they
would come to me, they’d be like, this is a real issue. This is a problem. You know, I
mean, they don’t say it in those words, but they would come to me with these
problems or issues. And I would always say to them,
all problems can be solved. It’s not necessarily solved in the problem that you first
think about, or the second way you think about, it’s not always solved in the way that
you want or you imagine, but all problems can be solved. And that’s what squirrels
strategy allows us to remember. All problems can be solved. Let’s take some time to
just map it out.
So creating that mind map is a great way just to let your brain kind of explore and
play another creative way to approach your problems or these issues is to simply
step outside of your current role as the CEO of your business and the leader of your
business, put on a different hat. In other words, look at your problem from a totally
different perspective outside of your world.
This is when it’s ideal to collaborate and commiserate, frankly, with other business
owners approach the problem head on collectively, bring in some of your fellow
entrepreneurial friends who do different things in their businesses. Things that are
very separated from yours, check in with someone who’s in a completely different
industry or a different kind of business altogether, pick their brain for possible
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solutions to the problem that you’re grappling with this honestly is one of the many
things that I love about my mentorship program.
The intentional CEO, it’s incredibly beneficial to surround yourself with successful
women, women who are running their businesses and love seeing other women
running successful businesses. This is why we have such great diversity of industries
in the intentional CEO program, because it’s an incredible diversity of thought of
concepts of ideas. If you are only brainstorming and masterminding with other
people in the same field,
as you, it’s no surprise that you feel like there’s no new ideas out there. People in
different industries have different books that they read different podcasts. They
listen to, they have different gurus and ideas that you know nothing about because
it’s not part of your world. When you collaborate with people with these incredibly
diverse industries, you open up your world and you allow opportunities for creativity
I have seen this time and time and time again with the intentional CEO program.
And it is one of the reasons why I curate women from all different walks on all
different areas of business, because I think it’s really important. It is imperative to
create that support for yourself because truly that’s what moves the needle for us by
bringing different viewpoints into the mix.
When we’re struggling to overcome different stumbling blocks, that can really make
a huge difference in seeing our future so much more creatively. And that is what I
want for you. I want you to see that the possibilities are open and endless. So let’s
close out. Today’s show with momentum builders. You know, I love to give you a little
bit of momentum to get you started momentum builder.
Number one, let’s start priming ourselves to get more in this free association state.
So if you don’t have an evening routine in place, I want you to really commit to
creating a solid evening routine this week, put an effort into it to make it into a habit.
Something that eventually becomes second nature to you because here’s the thing,
regardless of whether you’re like,
yep, I want to try lucid dreaming or not. Your brain depends on sleep to operate at its
very best. And any creativity that you’re really wanting to harness is not going to
happen if we are tired and worn out. So we want to make sure that we are creating a
nice evening routine that works for you. That feels very nourishing, that primes your
body for sleep because that’s how we get in that state of relaxation.
And once we get into that state of relaxation, that helps us get into that free
association state. So the creativity can just roam and play. All right, momentum
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builder. Number two, I want you to push yourself into that optimal state of free
association. Even further. I want to challenge you to give squirrel strategy a try this
week, whether you’re working on a specific problem,
doesn’t really matter. You can use this strategy to brainstorm as well. Honestly, this is
something that I do very frequently when I have my visionary hat on and I’m trying
to envision the next steps for my business or what I want my business for the
longterm. So regardless of whether it’s a problem or just brainstorming, get out your
piece of paper, carve out five,
10 minutes of your day, and just allow your mind to wander, write down the thoughts
that come up, start with the brainstorm or the question in the center. Draw those
lines out. Just allow yourself to see that. No is not a possibility that right there, when
you take no off of the table, that opens up so many things. So many chances for you.
I want you to let your mind wander a little bit. I think so often we feel like to be a
strong business owner. We have to be sharp. We have to be on all the time. And in
fact it is exactly the opposite because you’re going to be shocked by the creative
gems that come up for you. As you’re allowing your brain some space to explore and
play our brains,
have an amazing way of doing that, of shining a light on solutions or helping us
overcome setbacks or approaching these stumbling blocks that we run into. We
have the ability to solve these problems ourselves, but we have to allow our brain to
do it, give to yourself the space to tap into your creativity, to allow your brain to
explore and play. So again,
it really is about giving yourself permission because the ability to tap into your
creative side, to arrive at solutions to your business problems, that’s what it truly
means to become the visionary of your business. That’s what it means to run your
business with intention. And when you are able to fully step into that role as the
visionary, who is able not just to see the details of the here and now,
but the full, entire picture of the future and all the possibilities that it holds, that’s
how you know, you’re on the right track. And that is how you know, you’ve got the