The importance of creative thinking today needs no emphasis. In your profession or sphere of work you will have a competitive advantage if you develop your ability to come up with new ideas. In your personal life, too, creative thinking can lead you into new paths of creative activity. It can enrich your life – though not always in the way you expect. It would also go a long way in boosting your self confidence as an individual as well as your earning potential. The problem however remains that many of us have given up in battle for developing our creativity forgetting that creativity like every other activity can be developed and learnt with consistency and practice. Here are ten ways to boost your creativity, enjoy the read!
- Be flexible:
Being flexible involves being progressive and open to novel ways of doing things. It is usually said that yesterday’s recipe for success is today’s recipe for failure. You can’t be creative and static at the same time. Alvin Toffler once said, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn unlearn and relearn.” Creative people are always on the lookout for possible solutions and novel ways of doing things. Not only do they discover new things, they are also not afraid to try them out. Albert Einstein once said, “I have no specific talents, other than a passionate curiosity.”
- Practice analogy:
It appears that nature already has prototypes of what we intend to invent, discover or create. No wonder, Rodin wrote, “I invent nothing, I rediscover.” Take human organization for example. Most of the principles involved can be found in nature: hierarchy (baboons), division of labour (ants, bees), networks (spiders’ webs), and so on. If you are trying to create a new organization you will find plenty of ready-made models in human society, past or present. The exciting thing about analogies is that we are not limited to nature for the formulae for creative thinking. Soichiro Honda was an engineer who excelled in creative thinking and innovation. While he was building his first four-cylinder motorcycle he gradually realized that although the engine was fine, his designers had made the machine look squat and ugly. He decided to take a week’s break in Kyoto. One day, sitting in an ancient temple, he found himself fascinated by the face of a statue of the Buddha. He felt that he could see a resemblance between the look of Buddha’s face and how he imagined the front of the motorbike would be. Having spent the rest of the week studying other statues of the Buddha in Kyoto he returned and worked with the designers on a harmonious style that reflected something of the beauty he had glimpsed.
- Spend time with nature:
Nature lets you connect with the world in a profound way. It also a good way to unplug and unwind. Spending time with nature is not only a good way to ensure rest, but also to give your creativity a boost. Robert Frost said, “It is no good trying to shine if you do not take time to fill your lamp.”You need to appreciate creation in other to birth another creation. When you slow down in that way, you begin to discover the beauty that is all around, as well as within you.
Whether yours is listening to or playing musical instruments, music is pivotal to the creative process. Picking up an instrument like the piano can lead to great benefits as you begin practicing and internalizing the basic finger movements. The connection between creative power and practicing music is well demonstrated as many famous figures, including Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, Oliver Sacks and Paul Klee, attributed part of their success to their exposure to music.
Music lets us connect to our emotions. We relate to music with our soul. Music lets us wander off and disconnect with our original mood. So, it is likely that music can be the thing to give your creativity, a boost.
- Follow your passion:
What do enjoy doing? What do you love doing to the extent that you don’t even know you are working? That’s exactly what you should be doing. The highest paid people the world over are those that are doing things they enjoy doing to the point that they hate to go home at night. The way to learn most, excel and really prosper is in doing things you have genuine passion for. Love and creativity are intertwined, when you are genuinely fascinated by what you do, you go on developing and reinventing yourself. Vince Lombardi said, “The quality of a person’s life is direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, no matter what their chosen field.” Notice the emphasis is on passion and not talent! A great chunk of all the successes we celebrate globally are not birthed by talent but by practice and consistency.
- Follow your intuition:
An article in business news daily had this to say, “At the core is the ability to look at problems from different angles, to connect and combine concepts, and the ability to challenge traditional assumptions. These are skills that require time to master.” Someone once said, “Intuition will tell the thinking mind what to do next.” Most times, when we follow our intuition, it doesn’t seem as if we are going anywhere but when we look backward, it all makes make sense. Innovation itself has to do with blending skills with intuition.
- Practice serendipity:
Serendipity means finding valuable and agreeable ideas or things – or people – when you are not consciously seeking them. You are more likely to be serendipitous if you have a wide span of attention and a broad range of interests. Marcel Proust said, “The real magic of discovery lies not in seeking new land-scapes but in having new eyes.” Serendipity is a happy word which Horace Walpole coined to denote the faculty of making unexpected and delightful discoveries by accident. In a letter to a friend (28 January 1754) he says that he formed it from the title of a fairy story, The Three Princes of Serendip (an ancient name for Sri Lanka), for the princes ‘were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of’.
Edison was seeking something else when he came across the idea of the mimeograph. He had the good sense to realize that he had made a discovery of importance and soon found a use for it. Serendipity goes against the grain of narrow focus thinking, where you concentrate your mind upon an objective or goal to the exclusion of all else. It invites you to have a wide span of attention, wide enough to notice something of significance even though it is apparently irrelevant or useless to you at present. As the Canadian entrepreneur and businessman Lord Roy Thomson of Fleet will say, ‘Thinking will always give you a reward, though not always what you expected.’ In his book ,The Art of Creative Thinking, leadership and creativity expert John Adair pointed that, when you are thinking you are traveling mentally, you are on a journey. Genuine thinking is always a process possessing direction. Look out for the unexpected thoughts, however lightly they stir in your mind. Sometimes an unsuspected path or byway of thought that opens up might be more rewarding than following the fixed route you had set yourself.
- Widen your span of relevance:
In his book, The Art of Creative Thinking, creativity and leadership expert John Adair pointed out that, the transfer of technology from one field to another, usually with some degree of alteration and adaptation is one way in which you can make a creative contribution. You may be familiar with a body of knowledge or technical capability unknown to others in your field because you have worked in more than one industry. Or it may come about as a result of your travels to other countries. People with a narrow span of relevance are thinking within the tramlines and boundaries of their own industry. Leap over the wall! Develop a wide span of relevance, for there are connections between every other industry in the world and yours – if only you could see them.
It comes down to your ‘power to connect the seemingly unconnected’, or at least the things that hitherto have not been brought together in a new and interesting relation. William Plomer had this to say:
“It is the function of creative people to perceive the relations between thoughts, or things or forms of expression that may seem utterly different, and to combine them into some new forms – the power to connect the seemingly unconnected.” To this end, it is therefore it is not surprising that inventors and other creative thinkers have knowledge in more than one field.
- Don’t wait for inspiration—just do it!
It doesn’t matter how many creative ideas you have, they will only have life if you implement them. Someone said, “Try and fail, don’t fail to try. In creative work it is unwise to wait for the right mood. Author Graham Greene once said:
Writing has to develop its own routine. When I’m seriously at work on a book, I set to work first thing in the morning, about seven or eight o’clock, before my bath or shave, before I’ve looked at my post or done anything else. If one had to wait for what people call ‘inspiration’, one would never write a word.
Thomas Edison, inventor of the electric light bulb among many other things, gave a celebrated definition of genius as ‘1 per cent inspiration and 99 per cent perspiration’.
- UNPLUG—JUST DO NOTHING.
The best-selling author Alan Cohen once wrote: “There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.” All work and no play they say, makes jack a dull boy. It is good to allow your mind to unplug from processing and skim past volumes of information in the form of internet articles and posts, text messages and all other routine activities. Perhaps, nothing explains the whole of this better than Robert Frost when he said, “It is no good trying to shine if you don’t take time to fill your lamp.”