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Ransom Poetry: Research Says Give Your Executive Brain a Break

Updated: Jan 26, 2023

As an Executive Coach that specializes in creativity and growth, I work with individuals and companies that do things differently. They understand that they are beseiged with apps, AI, 24/7 screen-time, as well as expected to follow the rules that led businesses yesterday but are sucking the joy out of creative work today. Today, there is a reason why tactile work that uses the hands more than the head is having a huge come-back. (More on that later.) We need a way to shutdown the synapses, the fight-or-flight response that has been on active alert for the last 24 months, and change the cortisone/stress diet that many creatives, executives, and businesses have been raised on. Enter Ransom Poetry. It is an interactive process that uses the creativity of poetry (no experience needed) and the latest brain research on how we develop new insights (important to more than the creative sector) and broader points of view.

How the Brain Works and Today's Research

Our brain uses various networks to make sure that all of our systems are "go." That includes our biological functions, our intellectual capacity, and our intuition. Surprisingly, the Default Mode Network or DMN (yes, that's really what it is called) consumes 20% of the body's energy. The power of this network, also sometimes referred to as the "Do Mostly Nothing" function, is that it allows new connections to take place when the "focused" brain is turned off. According to Srini Pillay, MD writing for Harvard Medical School, "when you turn your “focus” brain off, it will retrieve memories, link ideas so that you become more creative, and also help you feel more self-connected too."

The trick is figuring out what is most effective. You've probably heard suggested, take a walk, introduce some kinetic motion, take a 10-minute nap, or spend time daydreaming. As they say the devil is in the details. According to the American Psychological Association, the science on how to stimulate creativity and getting to that insight or "aha" moment requires slowing down while remaining active, using appreciative daydreaming, spending time doing an activity that allows your unfocused brain to have priority, and practicing remote associations.

The Why and What of Ransom Poetry

Ransom Poetry is designed to incorporate kinetic motion that is repetitive yet productive (cutting, pasting, turning pages) with appreciative daydreaming (scanning phrases that fit a theme or a question), and incorporating remote associations with specifically crafted prompts using certified active inquiry techniques. Ransom Poetry delivers a creative reward that is both personal and creative. The bonus: it encourages creative processing long after the "making" exercise. Like a ransom note, the payment or reward is the poem. And the poem can represent singular or multiple insight(s) that stimulate forward momentum into the future.

Ransom Poetry Defined

ran·som /ˈransəm / verb: obtain the release of (a prisoner/an idea/a limiting belief) by making a payment demanded; in this case, a poem. po·et·ry /ˈpōətrē / noun: a form of concentrated imaginative awareness and experience expressed in language chosen and arranged to create a specific insight or question using meaning, sound, rhythm, remote associations; and in this case placement.

What Can I Expect?

Ransom Poetry sessions usually range between 60 and 90 minutes. During that time you will be led through guided prompts. All you need is a random assortment of print materials (newspapers, magazines, advertisments or junk mail, greeting cards) that you are willing to cut up.

The session is designed in three parts:

  1. Exploring your theme or subject,

  2. Following specifically guided prompts as you scan and cut printed material, and

  3. Assembling your poem using the phrases, words and punctuation you've gathered.

There is an editing process that naturally occurs as the creative insights begin to emerge; participants often go back to find a word, letter or punctuation mark to complete the poem. The act of gluing down the poem to a blank sheet of paper makes the poem concrete and also takes on a visual dimension. It allows the brain to work on the left and right side simultaneously. And then, as a final part of the process, the poem is transformed into a physical manifestation of the participant's creativity: a journal, a piece of artwork, or any other three dimensional creative idea. This physical component is a visible reminder (much more fun than a sticky-note) that helps keep the practice of creativity going. Creativity is a strategy, and yes, it takes practice.

You can learn more about Ransom Poetry offerings here. We'd love to help you to unleash your inner poet and free your creativity.

Break the Tape Leadership helps leaders unleash creativity and potential in themselves and the organizations they lead to generate meaningful momentum. (And we often write Ransom Poetry to stimulate creativity and the "Do Mostly Nothing" network.)

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