Creativity & Time

Creativity can certainly happen spontaneously, and without a notable structure. Repeating creative experiences however, or building from to another requires strategy.

Strategy denotes a relationship with time. One is looking at time, taking action through time, and reflecting on time.

Emotions are energy. They flow in present time, when they do not they get stuck in mind, body or both. Holding emotions as stuck energy is one way body is forced to leave Present Time. We hold emotions whenever we defy our feelings (conflict), insist on perpetuating them beyond their nature (addiction) or believe them to be imaginary or wrong (denial).

The Dreamer, the Critic & the Realist

Mind is the executive manager of choice, and where the Dreamer and Critic reside. It processes the responses of the body, tracks your understanding of past experiences, tracks your goals and aspirations and analyzes the gap between what was, what is and what can be. A moment later the very complex math problem is complete and you make a choice... sometimes whether you consciously intended to or not.

Body always operates in the present moment, the time orientation of the Realist. Remember that it reacts to what IS, and we feel our bodies most clearly when we are present. When your body is not in the present, something's stuck; it's not its natural state. So there are three "parts" of you in action: 

Together this gaggle forms a fairly cohesive team of problem-solvers and inventors. Training ‘them’ to understand their roles and align synergistically creates mastery. Like everything else, exercising them separately and in coordination makes an efficient and effective team. The key is to recognize your power to choose, and maintain variety in behavioral options. Working with these three paradigms offers both aspects.

The Disney Creativity Strategy

Walt Disney was a creative genius by any researched account. He invented storyboarding. He conducted meetings phased to support the Dreamer (phase for creating ideas) the Critic (phase for analyzing ideas), and the Realist Phase, where the innovations became a plan.

In the Encyclopedia of Systemic Neuro-Linguistic Programming and NLP New Coding by Robert Dilts and Judith DeLozier (NLP University Press), there is an entry for the Disney Creativity Strategy. Although it is written with relation to business, the elements correlate directly to creating new ways of being in any arena, including health and personal relationships.

[Walt] Disney embodies the ability to make a successful company based on creativity. He represents the process of turning fantasies into concrete and tangible expressions. In a way, Disney's chosen medium of expression, the animated film, characterizes the fundamental process of all creative genius: the ability to take something that exists in the imagination only and forge it into a physical existence that directly influences others in a positive way.

One of the major elements of Disney's unique genius was his ability to explore something from a number of different perceptual positions. An important insight into this key part of Disney's strategy comes from the comment made by one of his animators that:

“...there were actually three different Walts: the dreamer, the realist, and the spoiler (critic). You never knew which one was coming into your meeting."

This was not only an insight into Disney but also into the process of creativity. Creativity as a total process involves the coordination of these three subprocesses: dreamer, realist and critic. A dreamer without a realist cannot turn ideas into tangible expressions. A critic and a dreamer without a realist just become stuck in a perpetual conflict. A dreamer and a realist might create things, but they might not be very [sound] ideas without a critic. The critic helps to evaluate and refine the products of creativity.

The point is that creativity involves the synthesis of different processes or phases. The dreamer is necessary for creativity to form new ideas and goals, The realist is necessary for creativity as a means to transform ideas into concrete expressions. The critic is necessary for creativity as a filter and as a stimulus for refinement.

Certainly, each one of these phases represents a whole thinking strategy all it's own - strategies that more often tend to conflict with each other rather than support each other. Of course, the specifics of how Disney used and coordinated his imagination (the dreamer), methodically translated those fantasies into tangible form (the realist) and applied his critical judgment (the critic) are something we need to explore.

Everybody already has the dreamer, realist and critic inside them. Unfortunately, what usually happens is that the dreamer and the critic get into a fight. The dreamer and the critic go in conflicting directions until, finally, the realist says, 'We're out of time.'

One of the biggest problems is that the critic doesn't just criticize the dream. The critic criticizes the dreamer. It's different to say, "That idea is stupid," than to say, "You are stupid for having that idea." Part of why Disney could function so effectively is that he didn't criticize his team or himself; he criticized the plan to accomplish the dream. What keeps the critic and the dreamer from being stuck in a polarity response is the realist.

The Realist


·  Establish time frames and milestones for progress

·  Make sure it can be initiated and maintained by the appropriate person or group

·  Progress is testable through sensory experience

The Dreamer


·  State the specific goal in positive terms

·  Establish the payoffs of the idea

The Critic


·  Make sure the idea is ecologically sound

·  Preserves any positive by-products of the current way(s) of achieving the goal

Cognitive Patterns Associated with Dreamer, Realist & Critic

Thinking Style



Critic (Researcher)

Level of Focus




Representational Preference








Time Frame

Long Term

Short Term

Long & Short Term

Time Orientation








Mode of Comparison




copyright © 2000 Encyclopedia of Systemic Neuro-Linguistic Programming and NLP New Coding

Continued Learning

Disney Creativity Strategy - Becker Associates

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