Creative Thinking and the Exchange – Part One

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the December 1972 issue of the Real Estate News Observer.

In my travels around the country talking to real estate Exchangors, the most recurring questions are these: “How can I be more creative in exchanging?” and “What does it take for me to think of new ideas?”

The successful Exchangor soon learns that creative thinking is mandatory for problem solving. It is the satisfactory solution to the problem that takes the transaction to escrow. Based on this hypothesis, the student of exchanging would do well to understand creativity and how to become more creative.

Creativity is the linking of an individual’s energies, experiences, and skills. It means going beyond the limits of past experience. Everyone has some degree of creativity. The difference lies in how much each one fully utilizes his or her capacities. There is a difference between “creativity” and “productivity.”

Creativity transcends the established order of things with innovative ideas and solutions. Productivity leads to “more of the same,” the application of the known to the known by using established, defined lines. Why should the Exchangor, with extra knowledge, use his capacities and skills just to support the commonplace, the obvious, and the routine?

Creativity, like cooperation, cannot be commanded or demanded from a person. It is something that must be generated from within the individual, and the flow of creativity will likewise be controlled by the individual. One of the cardinal rules is that the individual must make real effort at all times to have an “Open Mind.”

The “Open Mind” can create. The “Open Mind” uses the full capacities of the subconscious mind and releases multitudes of thoughts, experiences, and concepts with which the conscious mind creates the idea.

The “Closed Mind” does not comprehend the full meaning of communication. The “Closed Mind” doubts, suspects, and cannot conceive of possibilities in opportunities.

The “Closed Mind” limits the total thinking that can be done in the conscious mind, applying only “known-to-be- known” facts or commonplace, routine thoughts to established, defined lines.



Sometimes the best way to comprehend creative thinking is to understand the forces that work against it. Following are the factors that induce creative thinking and also factors that tend to inhibit creative thinking:

Elements That Prevent Creativity:

1. Narrow-mindedness

A. One can’t accept or recognize information that doesn’t comfortably fit into preexisting concepts. These people suffer from “hardening of the categories.” They are not free to analyze, observe, or question their or others’ environment.

B. Narrow thinking makes it difficult to separate the problem from the environment in which it exists.

C. Narrow thinking can also reduce the problem to the degree that proper attention isn’t given to those factors that may have substantial influence on it.

D. Narrow thinking prevents one from using all of his senses in obtaining the data needed to understand or to solve the problem.

2. Resistance to Change

Most people are mentally lazy. It is easier to follow established paths than to accept a new direction and explore it. Many find it too comfortable under the “security blanket” of the “status quo” to venture out.

3. Fear

Real barriers to creative efforts are fear of mistakes, fear of criticism, fear of failure. Fear is the erosion of confidence. Self-confidence is conducive to creative thinking.

4. Conformity

Too much dependence on set ways of doing things, letting others do the thinking and make the decisions, stifles originality. Blind faith in authority as powerful and all-knowing, and going along just to be fashionable or because a powerful group has labeled it the “thing to do”—all these things can block creative, problem-solving thinking. What is true today may be false tomorrow. Change is accelerating at an ever-increasing rate. Keep your mind flexible. Don’t allow rigid conformity to hold your thinking in a rut.

5. Pressure Environment

A fast-paced, hectic office operation that creates pressure situations is definitely not conducive to creative thought. A leisurely, relaxed atmosphere breeds creativity. Frederic D. Randall said, “A man’s mind may make its most important, creative contributions on the night that the briefcase full of work is left at the office.”

Although good planning and control can help create the right conditions for effective work, unremitting pressure often produces poor outcomes and restricts creative solutions before they are born.

Wally Walker was an instructor for the Reno Educational Foundation and frequently wrote articles for the Real Estate News Observer.

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