How to boost creativity with music (Part 2)

How to boost creativity with music (Part 2)

Genius Journey
Innovation Method
Published On:
January 4, 2024

“Music is the language of the spirit. It opens the secret of life bringing peace, abolishing strife,” noted the Lebanese-American writer Kahlil Gibran. Indeed, music has a mystical power that can connect our souls with the spiritual realm and elevate us to higher levels of consciousness and creativity. And it’s on the higher creative ground that we want our music to play today.

In part 1 of this two articles episode, I shared with you how the right mix of music can raise or lower the energy of an innovator or innovation team as they think through the stages of a structured creative process (such as thinkergy’s X-IDEA innovation method and toolbox). In part two, let’s shift gears and move beyond simple thinking and creativity tools (= conscious creativity) to subconscious and super-conscious creativity levels. Today, I explain how I use the transformative power of music to anchor creativity-empowering creative mindsets.

Moving beyond the beat

In part 1, the musical mix focused more on aligning the music’s beat, rhythm, and energy (as measured in BPM) with the perceived mental energy of an innovator or innovation team working in a specific creative process stage. When it comes to anchoring conducive creative mindsets, however, an additional factor plays an even more vital role: the lyrics of a song. 

For me, a song’s lyrics can have a similar effect to spoken or written affirmations. Affirmations are an effective tool to induce empowering beliefs into one’s mind. The American Heavyweight Boxing World Champion Muhammad Ali described this effect: “It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.” 

Likewise, the lyrics of certain songs are “musical affirmations” that instantly uplift your mind and inspire you to move towards higher, more empowering states. Interestingly, the audiogenic elevation and motivational effect of the right “lyrical mantra” is even stronger than that of a regular affirmation because a fitting tune, beat, and rhythm amplifies the power of inspirational words. So, the right mix of empowering words and uplifting melody can make a song an “affirmation plus.”

My musical potpourri for traveling the Genius Journey 

Genius Journey is a mindsets-based creative leadership development method and program I developed for thinkergy. Aspiring creative leaders travel the Genius Journey to learn about ten creativity-empowering mindsets practiced by outstanding creative leaders in business, science, the arts, sports, society, and politics. While traveling my Genius Journey from a corporate banker to a creative leader, inventor, and founder of an innovation know-how company, I have used the power of musical affirmations by curating a playlist of songs relating to the ten genius mindsets. 

Overall, the Genius Journey program aims to elevate you to higher levels of creative consciousness. Interestingly, I have a collection of roughly a dozen songs that all cater to the idea of uplifting you (I Get Lifted (The Underground Network Mix) by Barbara Tucker), inviting you to Keep On Rising (Copyright Mix) (Jay-J Feat. Latrice Barnett), and elevating you to Higher Ground [Classic Mix] (Elisabeth Troy). 

Listening to these songs connects me instantly to the overall ethos of the Genius Journey. But beyond this all-purpose “genius elevation mix,” I also have separate playlists relating to each of the ten genius mindsets situated at eight levels of consciousness. In the following, allow me to share selected songs and lyrics I use to remind me of the essence of each genius mindset, thereby gradually ascending to higher levels of creative consciousness.

The Eight Consciousness Levels & 10 Mindsets of the Genius Journey

Level 1: Develop your core beliefs and willpower

The purpose of the foundational level of the Genius Journey is to counter your doubts, worries and fears, and to start becoming a courageous, action-oriented and persistent believer. At this base level, I find solace by listening to vocal therapeutic songs that:

Level 2: Be yourself. Be original

At the second level of the Genius Journey, you learn to insist upon yourself and gain control over your worst enemy: your false self or ego. Frank Sinatra’s classical song My Way encapsulates best the essence of this mindset of being yourself, living a self-determined life, and doing it your way:

For what is a man, what has he got? If not himself, then he has naught.
To say the things he truly feels, And not the words of one who kneels. 
The record shows, I took the blows, And did it my way.

For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught.

To say the things he truly feels,
And not the words of one who kneels. 

The record shows, I took the blows,
And did it my way.

Other songs that I use at this level for lyrical empowerment to insist upon myself include True Colors (I prefer Phil Collins’ version over Cindy Lauper’s original), You Can't Hide From Yourself by Teddy Pendergrass, Live My Life by Moments of Soul, and Bon Jovi’s smashing anthem It's My Life.

Level 3: Redevelop your beginner’s mind

The third level of the Genius Journey invites you to cultivate an open, curious, positive, and playful beginner’s mind that most of us exhibited as young children. Interestingly, many songs and lyrics emotionally resonate these free-spirited, positive character traits. For example, I smile the moment I hear the first tune of songs like Happy by Pharrell Williams and Lovely Day by Bill Withers. And the songs Beautiful People (The Underground Network Mix) by Barbara Tucker and Point of View (Radio Edit) by DB Boulevard remind me to openly embrace other people and their viewpoints.

Level 4: Live your passion and purpose

The fourth level of the Genius Journey is all about your ultimate calling: What do you love doing (your passion)? And why do you do what you love doing (your purpose)? One beautiful song that can lyrically inspire us to live up to our full potential is Michelle Weeks’ A Purpose (Spen 7 Hudge 12" Vocal). The song reminds us that we all were made for a noble reason and encourages us to discover and live up to our raison d’être:

"You have a purpose, and a reason, you were perfectly born for the season, you were wonderfully made, marvelous, glamorous, glorious, victorious. You have a purpose. So, live your life to the fullest.”

Another song that captures the daunting challenge of daring to live your passion and pursue what you believe is your purpose is Emma Stone’s song, Audition (The Fools Who Dream), from the wonderful musical film La La Land

Level 5: Learn deeply and broadly. Think integratively

Level 5 of the Genius Journey features two mindsets related to mind expansion. On the one hand, we invited you to become an integrated whole-mind thinker (who feels comfortable engaging on both sides of the neocortex). On the other hand, we suggest you evolve into a T-shaped person (who combines deep expertise in at least one domain of specialization with a broad general knowledge, skills, and experience repertoire). John Lennon’s Imagine ideally captures the creative spin of this level, while Scott Grooves Feat. Roy Ayers’ song Expansions [12" Mix] asks you to expand your mind:

“In order to grow as an individual, you must first expand your mind.
Also you must be willing to accept positive new thoughts and ideas.
Remember follow your dreams and never, never give up.”

Level 6: Move out of your comfort zone now

The sixth level of the Genius Journey also focuses on cultivating two interrelated mindsets: 

Give up yourself unto the moment, The time is now.
Give up yourself unto the moment. Let's make this moment last.

Level 7: Balance your busyness with idleness

Level 7 of the Genius Journey asks you to balance focused doing with relaxed being. Here, one song that relaxes me instantaneously is Easy by the Commodores. Or do you care to take relaxation seriously? Then, listen to Bruno Mars’ The Lazy Song

Regularly establishing a harmonious rhythm between action and relaxation makes it easier to get into the state of flow (also known as the “optimal experience”). And a song by Groove Junkies captures this amazing feeling of being In The Zone (Dave Doyle Remix)

Level 8: Eureka! I’ve found it

Level 8 is the peak of the Genius Journey, a magical moment where, if you’re lucky and follow the stages of a subconscious creative model, you can experience a Eureka of breakthrough creativity. So, what’s the acoustic afflatus fitting this pinnacle of creativity?

Dreamlike music such as Dead Composers’ Chile Con Carne(Richard Kayvan Remix) or Soul II Soul’s A Dream’s A Dream captures the emotional mix of uncertainty, nervousness, tension, and anticipation that you will experience during incubation where you need to stay open and receptive to stimuli that might trigger an Eureka. At the same time, you need to muster the courage to let go of your challenge completely. So, Dato’s Letting Go (Extended Mix) might serve you as a musical reminder to let it go. 

I count myself extremely lucky to have experienced a Eureka in my life twice (and I reported how it feels like in an earlier blog article titled How does it feel to experience a Eureka moment?). Believe me, it’s a profoundly spiritual experience, and to remind me of this aspect, I also enjoy listening to spiritually-themed songs at this level, such as Peyton’s A Higher Place (Eric Kupper’s Gospel Degree Vocal Mix) or the song Spiritual Thing by Vice City Groove. And if rock musician Marilyn Manson is correct that “Music is the strongest form of magic,” then how to better evoke a magical moment than listening to Zsak’s Magic?

Conclusion: Curate your own playlist for your Genius Journey

“Music in the soul can be heard by the universe,” said Lao Tzu. Today, I shared songs from my Genius Journey playlist that elevate my mind and connect me to a desired empowering genius mindset. When I notice that my creativity is blocked at some point in time because I am stuck at a certain level, I listen to the respective songs on my playlist. The tunes and lyrics quickly transmute my thinking from negative to positive and fire me up again. I share my Genius Journey playlist with creative leader candidates so that they can look up and listen to the songs and purchase those they like for themselves. But why don’t you curate your list of motivational songs that inspire you to live up to your full potential and lift you again when you’re down? 

Allow me to end by inviting you to listen to the Genius Journey’s unofficial anthem — the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour:

Roll up for the Mystery Tour. The Magical Mystery Tour, Is waiting to take you away, Waiting to take you away.

When can we take you away to travel your Genius Journey?

  • Learn more about Genius Journey, Thinkergy's creative leadership method, by visiting our website and downloading our Genius Journey booklet. 
  • Can you imagine to “travel the Genius Journey" with a group of executives in a training? Or do you face another pressing issue on your innovation agenda? Then, contact us

© Dr. Detlef Reis 2023. 

Credits: Title photo by Kobe Subramaniam on Unsplash. Second photo by Steve Harvey on Unsplash.