I love how ideas seem to travel in packs. For a while there all I heard was the word innovation but the most recent idea that has come up in the past few weeks has been creativity. How to be more creative, what is creativity, why we should be more creative, why schools are crushing creativity etc etc. And as I try to think about topics to blog about I certainly wonder why this is such a challenge for me and why I can’t seem to be more creative? It truly should be easy, after all Ken Robinson says that we are all born with a deep natural capacity for creativity. So do I believe that I have been “educated out” of being creative?
Certainly when you look at what is written about creativity it is something to strive for. In recent years, maybe more than ever before, the capacity to develop something new or reconceptualising something old can be the path to fame and fortune. Creative people are constantly on the lookout for new ideas. They recreate and rearrange the present by finding novel ways to approach specific problems. They find new solutions, sometimes by using unrelated ideas that fit. While this approach tends to invite criticism or rejection, e.g.
“Television won’t be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.” – Darryl F. Zanuck, Head of 20th Century-Fox, 1946,
creative thinkers know that novel ideas can solve complex problems. According to neuroscientist, Nancy Andreasen ” Creative people are better at recognising relationships, making associations and connections and seeing things in an original way – seeing things that others cannot see.” So why it is that so many of us believe we are not creative and what can we do about it? In a 3 month creativity study psychologists researched the characteristics of creative people. Many areas were considered to be possible variables but in the end one single common factor was found to determine an individual’s creativity – attitude! Creative people think they are creative.
So start by tossing out the old ” But I cant do that! I am not creative” attitude and try some of these 6 great ideas to unleash your creativity and rediscover your inner passion:
- Collect every idea/ Embrace the absurd
Often we dismiss ideas as impractical or even impossible before they even see the light of day. While our initial assessment might be correct, stopping that train of thought could be limiting other viable ideas down the track. Try it. Just write down everything that comes to mind about a problem you are working on – you might be surprised where it leads you.
- Take a Break
Working on the same thing for hours can cause fatigue to our frontal lobes, or the “thinking” part of the brain. Too much focus here can consume all our brain power and stop other parts of the brain from seeing unexpected connections.
- Go Offline
We live in a world of constant information – phone calls, email, snap chat, twitter, facebook and the list goes on. If we are continually asking our minds to focus on other people’s thoughts, when do we have the time to experience our own? Give yourself the weekend off. Lie on the grass and look at the clouds and don’t be surprised if a great idea leaps into your mind.
There is a connection between the brain and physical activity. Sometimes the attention we have to pay to moving our bodies can give the brain a break and allow the creative juices to flow.
- Do something different
Look for novel ideas from other areas and see if some of what they do applies to what you do or think about how someone from a different profession might tackle your task – eg how would a sailor approach leadership training?
- Write it down
Julia Cameron in her book The Artists Way recommends writing 3 pages every morning before you get out of bed. I tried it and it is amazing how dumping all of the “stuff” that cycles through my brain daily frees my mind up to do some creative thinking.
This is just a few ideas but there are many more. What is your favourite strategy for stimulating your creativity?
Author: Melinda Zanetich - Director & Master Trainer - 4MAT 4Learning - Asia Pacific Region