Turning On the Creative  Genius Inside You

Paul E. Dunn, Psy.D.

What would it be like to have the creative genius of Walt Disney?


Robert Dilts, one of the early developers of NLP, modeled Walt Disney and developed a process that all of us can use whenever we need to create something of value. Whether you are writing a book, solving a business problem, or expressing yourself artistically, moving through Dilts' Disney strategy allows you to call upon your creative powers, and progress from vision to implementation efficiently and effectively.


Dilts pointed out in his book, Strategies of Genius, Volume I, that Walt Disney used this specific strategy to create his movies, amusement parks and business plans, and to realize his Disney empire.


If you had such a strategy, how would you use it? Is there something you are facing right now in your personal or business life, which would benefit from your being more effective at tapping into your creative genius?


As Dilts explained, the genius behind Disney’s ability to take an idea and turn it into reality developed as he honed his ability to explore an idea from different perceptual positions. He used three perceptual positions: Dreamer, Realist, and Critic. Disney fully associated into each perceptual position, and stayed in that perceptual position, until the idea was formed enough to move to the next position in the process. To anchor these perceptual positions, Disney created three rooms, which he and his staff used to work through ideas.


The first room was the Dreamer room. In this room he and his staff only dreamed up ideas and solutions. These ideas were focused on solving current problems and creating innovative products. While in this room, no one was allowed to critically evaluate the ideas that were being created. By allowing ideas to be dreamed and expressed without challenge in this room, Disney avoided writers-block and the stunting of ideas, because all ideas were encouraged. In this room the attitude was of possibility, hope, vision and future. The focus was on what (what to create, what to do, what to have). Disney and his staff physically looked up and saw the whole picture, the thousand foot view. Then they verbalized, outlined, and drew out the basic blueprint of their idea.


Next, Disney moved into the Realist room. When he was in the Realist perceptual position he was focused on action. As Realist, Disney “felt out the idea.” He became the idea, the story, the character, the solution. It was assumed in the Realist position that the idea created in the Dreamer room could be doneit was just a matter of how. If they were working on a new roller coaster, like Space Mountain, they imagined what it would feel like to be sitting in the roller coast as it raced around each winding turn, slowly climbed each steep incline, rapidly dropped down each descent. They noticed how the seat and the straps felt on their bodies. They heard the sounds of the roller coaster and saw the lights flashing as they coursed through the whole ride in their minds. The Realist filled in the blanks of the original idea created by the Dreamer.


Finally, Disney moved into the Critic room. Here the focus was on why (why do it this way, why do it at all). Logic was used to find the holes in the plan. Disney associated into an external audience perception. He called this his “second look.” The goal of the Critic was to examine the idea or plan (not the person who created the idea or plan). In this room the idea, plan or project was fine-tuned. If a question arose that required a creative solution, the whole team walked back to the Dreamer room to solve the problem with a creative idea. When Disney was in the role of Critic he wanted to determine whether this new idea or plan was better than the current way of achieving the goal. The Critic helped determine whether the idea was worth using, or whether more work needed to be done.



This exercise was developed by Robert Dilts.


1. From where you are sitting, look around the room, select three physical locations and label them Dreamer, Realist, and Critic.  If your Critic tends to be particularly strong, it might be helpful to locate the Critic far away from the Dreamer and Realist, to allow them the space to work without criticism.


2. Anchor the appropriate strategy to each physical location: (a) think of a time you were able to creatively dream up or fantasize new ideas without any inhibitions, and step into the Dreamer location as you fully relive that experience; (b) identify a time you were able to think very Realistically and devise a specific plan to put an idea effectively into action, and step into the Realist location as you fully associate into that experience; and (c) think of a time you were able to constructively Criticize a planthat is, to offer positive and constructive Criticism as well as to find problems—and step into the Critic location as you relive that experience.


3. Step back into a neutral (meta) location. Identify your desired outcome  and step into the Dreamer location. Visualize yourself accomplishing this goal as if you were a character in a movie. Allow yourself to think about it in a free and uninhibited manner.


4. Step into the Realist location, associate into the dream and feel yourself in the positions of all of the relevant characters. Then, see the process as if it were a storyboard (a sequence of images).


5. Step into the Critic position and find out if anything is missing or needed. Then, turn the Criticisms into questions for the Dreamer.


6. Step back into the Dreamer position to creatively come up with solutions, alternatives and additions to address the questions posed by the Critic.


7. Continue to cycle through steps 4,5, and 6 until your plan congruently fits each position.  During this process, you may allow the different perspectives to talk directly to each other.


8. After you have repeated this cycle several times, think of something else that you enjoy and do well. Walk through the Dreamer, Realist, and Critic locations two or three more times. (This will stimulate an unconscious enrichment of your creative process.)


Paul E. Dunn, Psy.D. is a Leadership and Personal Development Coach.  He supports the development of executives, managers, small business owners, and individuals who deeply desire to actualize their full potential in and out of work while having a ball creating and engaging in a life full of value and meaning.  He brings his training in Neurolinguistic Programming, Ericksonian Hypnosis, psychology, coaching and over 16 years of Corporate Sales Management experience to his coaching clients.  Dr. Dunn offers a free monthly e-newsletter that focuses on leadership and personal development.  If you would like to subscribe to his free e-newsletter go to the fourth page of his website.  Dr. Paul can be reached by phone at (856) 228-2103 or by e-mail at drpaul@dunncoaching.com. His website is www.dunncoaching.com.

Photo by Robert Kalman.


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Article Copyright © 2006 Dr. Paul Dunn. All rights reserved.

Photo Copyright © 2006 Robert Kalman. All rights reserved.