Albert, A Muse with an Attitude

from The Nine Modern Day Muses (and a Bodyguard)

By Jill Badonsky, MEd | Posted 5/4/06 | Updated 5/13/23

Albert is the Modern Day Muse of Innovation and Imagination. His powers range from encouraging us to break the rules to embodying a different persona in order to experience a more creative perspective. These tools can dull writing into irresistible prose, a relationship suffering from routine into one rich with novelty, or an unexciting business plan to one thriving in distinction. When I plan workshops, it is this Muse's creative concepts I call upon the most because they easily lend themselves to quick applications for creative success.

But of all the modern day Muses, a short article does Albert the least amount of justice. So yes, I'm going to say it: read the book to best understand how Albert can equip you with the kind of tools that will specifically show you how you can look at what everyone else sees and think something different — something vital to all aspects of the creative process. Albert is about associating and connecting, expanding your creative fluency.

Rather than a list of vague concepts, which have no context for you to relate, one specific exercise will give you a good sense of Albert's powers. Let's consider the full moon. Close your eyes for just 15 seconds and consider how you would respond if someone asked you to write, paint, or make a musical about the full moon. What you come up with may have wonderful creative merit, however, creatively brilliant people don't stop with one right answer. They keep going. With Albert's tools we can look at something we always see like the full moon and consider new perspectives.

Applying attitudes and personality traits:

the moon punched a hole in the sky

the moon punched a howl in the sky

who cares, turn up the radio, dude

Error prone:
the moon is a crescent

the moon is full, I've seen several full moons, once i was mooned, i used to watch The Andy Williams Show he sang "Moon River. i'd like to canoe down a river but i don't have a canoe, my finances aren't especially good right now but I have a jacket with fringe

Could Someone PLEASE turn the moon off?

I'll just have a crescent, you take the full moon

Famous people or characters

Dr. Seussean:
loon on moon?
spoon on moon?
did you put a loon spoon on my moon?
you're a buffoon.
(well that last line might be more Don Ricklean than Dr. Seussean)

Colbert Report:
Hi America, because you are so important I have made the moon full for you.

Full moon and seven years ago.

film noir
It was one of those nights, when the moon, the parking lot and my secretary's figure was full and but any clues about the case at hand left me empty.

Now you too can have the moon full in your backyard, all month long with a money back guarantee.

Soap Opera:
it was by the full moon that Jessica scorned Ralph's sister-in-law's boss's 3rd cousin's accountant's poodle and then found out it was actually her brother

Although this exercise was mostly fun, this same exercise can be applied to thinking creatively in business or art to discover fresh ideas.

Exposure Realms

Facilitating Ingenuity by Venturing into New Fields

By Jill Badonsky, MEd

Sometimes I spend too much time alone and my thoughts start inbreeding resulting in odd ideas. So this month I ventured out of my realm into the world of business.

Exposure to fields we normally do not venture into jiggles the controls on our minds so ingenuity leaks in. This is a good thing. So I wonder what magazines, websites, stores, gardens, recipes, CDs, DVDs and other venues I can explore to trigger for ideas for my own passion? And you, what about that question for you? I find lots of material for poetry in newspaper articles, the History Channel, archaeology magazines and science magazines.

"Anyone can look for history in a museum. Creative explorers look for history in hardware stores." — Robert Wieder

Through an extensive search for someone in the world of business with something original and valuable to share with you, in Creativity Portal land, I found a section head of creative production at a prestigious medical institution. Mr. T prefers to remain anonymous because of the public relations red tape he would have to go through to use his name.

He describes his department:

"Our group includes video producers, script and print writers, graphic designers, presentation designers, photographers, videographers, web designers, digital signage designers, event planners, live event directors and those pesky engineers that keep everything running. I'm not an expert in all fields, but I try to connect us all through the creative process. I have set up a creative planning area where all are invited to participate in the creative process of each project across areas of expertise. The area includes a plasma screen where we often view inspirational material. There's a networked computer connected to the plasma so we can surf the net or even create things on the fly. We also have a creative catch-all board. I invite everyone to put up whatever inspires them (within good taste of course!). People have chosen to create things in Photoshop, cut out ads from magazines they have found interesting, and even put up various quotes that have inspired them."

This kicks off the creative process for Mr. T and his team.

Exposing myself to fun stuff on the Internet is something I do too to warm my brain up for art, writing, gardening and decorating. Then I get ideas through connecting, associating, mixing and a term I coined and favor, creative foreplay. I get excited about the ideas that ricochet off of what I see that is already in existence. I combine two unrelated concepts for the very least, amusement and in hopes of something juicy.

"It is the function of creative men [and women] to perceive the relations between thoughts, or things, or forms of expression that may seem utterly different, and to be able to combine them into some new forms — the power to connect the seemingly unconnected." — William Plomer

So here's something you could do in 5 to 15 minutes: Make a list including fields of study, topics within those fields or other issues. List nouns, events, places unrelated to those things you are interested in. Brainstorm ways each item on your list can trigger a new idea for a current project of yours. Venture from the obvious to the far-fetched, the useful to the frivolous, the literal to the metaphorical... no limits.

When I asked Mr. T about creative blocks, his perspective came with a surprisingly spiritual twist and from an aerial view:

"I refuse to accept responsibility for my own creative blocks on any endeavor. It's the old chicken/egg theory as applied to creativity: Who is more creative? — The creator of the work, or the person creatively embracing that work?

"Sounds dubious, huh? Look at it from the 50,000 foot view. Who is the ultimate creationist? Putting religious conviction aside, for the sake of argument, I present the answer would be God. Wow, what a piece of art he created: the magnificence of our planet, the beauty and mechanical majesty of the human form, the ever-changing splendor of each day's new cloud formations. And all of this incredible art goes down to the microscopic level, a beauty that was never meant to behold with the naked eye.

"Did God map out every line of beauty? Was it all a happenstance that fell into place? Or did God grant us each the gift of enjoying and embracing all that is so wondrous... the creative energy within us all to intake and interpret our appreciation for what is so creative in itself? If so, what a gift we all have... and is it exploitive for all of us who create to leverage?

"OK... let's take it down a notch. Perhaps you're familiar with the television series "Lost". It's a true "water cooler" show that has created its own mythology and actually challenged the creativity of its own audience. The producers give you a little bit... then it's your turn to take off with it. The show's fans develop each episode through water cooler chats and Internet blogs. Their theories have become more creative than the show itself. If the plot were more concrete and straightforward this opportunity for creative speculation would not be available.

The simple lesson is, respect the creativity within your audience. Leverage it. Put some of the pressure on them. A creative block allows us the opportunity to turn our perspective around, to challenge our audience. I love the red herring approach to creativity... the deliberate use of ambiguity. Most every production on which I work, I insert something that is never meant to have a specific interpretation. My gift to the audience is the gift of wonder, the gift of using their own creativity to interpret as they see fit, and finally the gift of that achievement.

"How do I overcome a creative block? I mess with the audience in my own world of gleeful mischief. As close to God as I'll ever be."

What does this mean for you? Dare to play with these questions:

  • Imagine having an audience if you don't have one yet or even if you don't want one.
  • Make a list of the following: Who would be your audience? What characteristics would they have? What would they like about your work? What else would they like to see?
  • How could you "mess" with them? How could you provide them with something that was ambiguous so required interpretation?
  • Take 15 minutes to write or draw something that has an ambiguous interpretation.
  • Sometimes a creative block makes the next step to take ambiguous — interpret the next step in a number of ways.
  • Watch Lost
  • Get lost in your process and find your way back.

Interview with Albert

By Molly Anderson

Q: Sources tell me you're the only male Muse; and the only Muse inspired by a mortal. Tell our readers how this came to pass.

A: (Albert talks with a thick German accent so we fed his answers through an accent-straightener so you would easily understand his important wisdom).

I, Muse Albert, am about defying the obvious for the innovative, moving from the mundane to the magical. I am about surprises to the cerebrum and my mission is to inspire mortals to see with new eyes so that what they were used to seeing one way, can be construed in a much different way — possibly one filled with more joy, more prosperity, but indubitably with more resourcefulness.

When the other Muses were constructing the second Modern Day Muse (that would be me), protocols were broken, boundaries were stretched and sauerkraut was used as tinsel. Thus, in the spirit of breaking rules, I am a male instead of a female. And not only THAT, a mortal inspired my selection in a realm where Muses usually inspire mortals. [weird laughter] When the Muses assigned me, they snickered at this disobedient gesture of pure genius, and then I can't remember which one, but one of them said "Well, we've got to throw in some surprises or else the mortal mind will stall in complacency when it could be cruising in possibility."

Q: It's easy to slip into default thinking; an automatic response based on old, tired, thought patterns that don't necessarily work anymore. Can you talk about ways we can shift into a different mode and explore "possibility thinking" when we're stuck for an idea or searching for inspiration?

A: The acronym that can help mortals slip into possibility thinking is P.A.G.E.: Personas, Attitudes, Genres and Emotions. By choosing a different point of view through these devices, mortals can think different things. Imagine asking a question and instead of answering from your usual selection of solutions, choose a persona like a Wise Man, an attitude like Invincible Self-Confidence, a Genre like Science Fiction, or an Emotion like Reckless Joy, and see what different ideas you come up with. Invite yourself to be absurd and you may stumble into new ideas that are actually brilliant because you've given yourself permission to go past the obvious. In Jill Badonsky's book, The Awe-manac: A Daily Dose of Wonder, there are lists of playful Viewfinders in the back of the book that you can easily use to amp up your possibility thinking.

Q: In today's challenging economy, many artists are unemployed, or working outside their fields to make ends meet. Can you give us some creative ideas that will help pay the bills, stretch a buck further, or cut expenses?

A: The answer to this will be different according to the reader because many creative minds see this recession as a time to get creative whereas others are stuck in lack-thinking. My decree to think differently includes the reinvention of yourself and this economy gives people stuck in old, tired, joyless patterns a reason to think differently about themselves. Reinvention is all about realizing there is a choice in how we frame our situation, some of the choices empower us and some send us in a downward spiral. New thoughts need to be practiced; they don't change our reality overnight. Mind-mapping, treasure-mapping, brainstorming, visualization, wanting what we have, inviting in trust to replace fear and joy to replace dread — and PRACTICING these thoughts AND the feelings they can create in our body is guaranteed to manifest new prosperous avenues. I've seen it over and over. When recessions happen, the mortal can turn from the fascination with material objects to the fulfillment of creative expression.

Q: I really enjoyed the "Brainfeast" section in Nine Modern Day Muses and a Bodyguard. Can you explore these techniques a little here, and help us generate new creative ideas and inspiration?

A: You're talking about my Physics of New Ideas: The suggestions are designed to expand your mind so that you think in new ways, and consequently come up with new directions. They stretch open your mind into the world of imagination and as Einstein himself said, "Imagination is more important than knowledge." Knowledge is fixed. The concepts I share in the book involve the boundless imagination. They include:

Listing, Associations, Connections, Repetition, Personification (The Modern Day Muses are an example), Relocation, Exaggeration

Just to give you an example of a few of these concepts in action: Take a problem in your life at present. In your journal exaggerate it way out of proportion. Dramatize your reactions to it. Create new characters if you feel the need. Bring in your own special spirit guides to help out. Invite background singers, firemen, the clergy, police, superheroes, characters from different movies to join you. Ask yourself: What in your life can you minimize? Talk about a very important event nonchalantly.

Q: How do you incorporate the theory of relativity into your work with mortals?

A: I have listed five concepts in the Nine Modern Day Muses book that give mortals the secrets to relativity in the realm of creativity. Here are two of them:

  • You will enjoy life relative to how much you are inclined to think about life in a way that makes it worth enjoying.
  • You are creative relative to whether you think you are creative or not.

Q: What is your single greatest source of inspiration and new ideas?

A: Asking small questions without requiring an immediate answer. Small questions program the subconscious to think differently. The subconscious begins to play with many of the concepts I've mentioned above, such as associations, connections, and possibilities. Soon, a question like, "What's one small way I can make this more unique?" will result in many ideas. Questions such as "How come I can't come up with original ideas?" or "Why aren't I good enough?" need to be hammered flat, folded into an airplane and sailed out a window with just the right aerodynamics so that they land in the recycling bin and are eventually made into something that cannot be remembered.

Q: Any last words of advice for budding geniuses and creative souls?

A: Remember that there is more than one right answer to how to approach your thinking, your creative passion and your life. Know that if the rules someone gives you in the creative process do not honor your intuitive genius, CHANGE THEM and understand this as ingenuity. Remember that my hair stands straight up like the real Albert Einstein's because there are more important things to do than make your hair lie flat and thinking differently is the path to being truly original.

©2001-2009 Jill Badonsky. All rights reserved.

Jill BadonskyJill Badonsky is a creativity coaching pioneer, inspirational humorist, artist, and founder of the Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching™ model. ...

Modern Day Muses

Based on Jill Badonsky's book The Nine Modern Day Muses (and a Bodyguard).

Symbol of Albert

Imagination & innovation

After Albert Einstein

Thinking differently, tools to trigger ideas

"What did mortals need next?" thought the Muses about the continuing inspirational upgrade they were executing. They thought and thought and thought, and then they decided to stop thinking because it was getting monotonous. They needed a change in thinking. They started experimenting with words, sounds, images, associations, mirrors, and fusion. And new thoughts started percolating.

Soon afterward they said "Okay, enough already. Let's quite dawdling." They were just stalling, because stalling is an unexpected thing for a Muse to do. And that is what the next Muse is all about. Yes, he is about defying the obvious for the innovative, moving from the mundane to the magical. He is about surprises to the cerebrum. He inspires mortals to see with new eyes so that what they were used to seeing one way, can be construed in a much different way.

To get into the spirit of this Muse, protocols were broken and boundaries were stretched. Thus, this Muse is a male instead of a female. AND not only that, a mortal inspired the selection of this Muse in a realm where Muses usually inspire mortals. They giggled at this disobedient gesture of pure genius, and then I can't remember which one, but one of them said "Well, we've got to throw in some surprises or else the mortal mind will stall in complacency when it could be cruising in possibility."

All this, because from the psychic telescopes in the Muse Labs, they could see that those mortals often think as if they were confined within a little box. This is ironic because outside of the little mortal think-box side marked "This Side Up," is a take-off ramp to the sky. It has been there all along. Some mortals have discovered it and used its power to reinvent their thinking. After meticulous scrutiny they found one such mortal. They decided that a German scientist, named Albert Einstein was the perfect mortal to inspire a Muse.

So, the next Muse is named and modeled after this mortal icon of innovation, imagination, and revolutionary thinking. Albert Einstein broke the rules, revered imagination, and believed that we had a choice to live life as if it were a full-blown miracle. Thus, we have Albert, the Muse.

We have the power to think differently about our lives as well as about creative thinking. In doing so, we create a deeper level of existence and a continual resource of ideas, solutions and attitudes that best reflect the unfolding of our authentic self. What we previously defined as mundane has an element of amazing. Our lives fill with the magic and the miracles that possibility thinking can create. This is the physics of fulfillment.