How to Use Blue Sky Thinking to Create Your Own Space Ship

I have only just begun to read Phil Cooke’s book, Jolt, and it is already starting to change the way I

  • Think
  • View things
  • Face challenges
  • Tackle problems
  • Set goals

It’s amazing how quickly we grow out of our creativity. Cooke states that if we want creative kids we’d better encourage their creativity, especially between the ages of five and seven. During those ages creativity begins to drop rapidly. Ironically, it’s just about the time kids start to go to school.

When kids are that young they do a great deal of “blue sky” thinking. There are no limits, no restrictions, no confines. Young children haven’t yet been told often enough: “No, you can’t.”

When I was a kid my friend and I went into the woods across the street from our house where a fallen tree became our space ship. We had adventures that included aliens, asteroids, and atomic bombs. When our space ship crashed we had a grand old time fixing it and making our way to another adventure.

That’s blue sky thinking.

I wonder when I lost that? As I read the beginning of Jolt I was convinced I needed to recover it. Cooke reminds his readers that goals are all about “what ifs”… “so begin thinking about the great what-ifs of your life. No limits, no lids” (p.20).

Cooke recommends “blue sky” thinking to tackle all kinds of problems, challenges, and difficulties:

The only real limitations in your life are in your mind, so break those shackles and look for a farther horizon. Write it down and don’t let your past, other people’s opinions, or the limitations of your experience hold you back. (Jolt, p.22)

It’s an exercise that ought to be made part of a regular “creative workout.” It can be used, Cooke says, as a beginning to resolve challenges at work, at home, or even at church. As a first step “look for solutions without any rules, restrictions, or boundaries” (p.22). At this point there ought to be no thought of budget, time limitations, or past attempts to resolve things that didn’t work.

Often times a solution will jump right off of that list, even if it needs a bit of editing or reigning in. No limits. No lids. New solutions to old problems.

I tried some blue sky thinking as I went to sleep last night and my mind was awash with ideas. It was a refreshing way to count sheep.

How has blue sky thinking helped you view something in a new way, face a challenge, tackle a problem, or set a goal?

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3 thoughts on “How to Use Blue Sky Thinking to Create Your Own Space Ship

  1. I agree! Some of the most stimulating discussions that I've had with my children have been about Twilight Zone episodes, or the possiblility or impossibility of time travel, The Doppelganger Theory, the possibility of extra-terrestrial life and things like that. "What if?"! Fun discussions!!!!!

    • "What if" is a great question, isn't it? Those are the discussions that get a creative mind set on track and ready to tackle new ideas, issues, changes, and challenges!

  2. My Dad was great with creativity games. A favorite was a story telling game called, "the pot boiled over." He would start a story, get the characters into a pinch, and then say, "and the pot boiled over." The next person would continue the story and take it in any direction desired. Jungle adventures would move to outer space … and then to ancient Egypt. No boundaries … just the wonders of the human mind.

    I was reminded that Steve Jobs took a calligraphy class at Reed College in the 1960s, where he started to question what type and fonts on computer screens "could" look like. We're living in his blue skies right now!