Many people believe that the ability to think creatively belongs to the privileged few. Nothing is further than the truth. Anyone can learn creative thinking skills and generate great ideas.
If you are looking to inject more creativity into your life and career, consider these tips:
1. Have fun
Advertising maven David Ogilvy said “When people aren’t having any fun, they seldom produce good ideas.” Having fun or at least loosening up unleashes your creativity. Cultivate an office environment that makes room for play.
“Necessity may be the mother of invention but play is certainly the father,” said Roger von Oech, an author, inventor and speaker.
Some of the ways to have fun in the workplace include arranging meetings in the park, organising a family day where kids come to see where their parents work or having a potluck lunch. Other initiatives to up the fun factor can include encouraging parents to bring their children’s artwork to decorate the walls of their cubicles or get people to come to work in sports gear and exercise around the office. Co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Jerry Greenfield once said: “If it isn’t fun, why do it?”
2. Be like a child again
There is a creative and playful child in each and every one. Try looking at an issue with a child’s eye — explore it with a fresh perspective and put aside the rules or borders for a while.
Children break rules because they don’t know rules exist. They see new relationships among seemingly unrelated things. They don’t take things for granted. They ask questions like “Why doesn’t superglue stick to the tube?”, “Do fish sleep?” or “Why can’t men wear make-up?”
Young children never stop asking questions. Prominent American educator Neil Postman said “Children enter schools as question marks and leave as periods.” Become a question mark again. If you are confronted with a problem, ask yourself: “How would I solve this if I were a seven-year-old?”
Other tips to bring out your inner child include rearranging your furniture, handing out ice cream at a meeting or drawing pictures on the windows. You can also draw a portrait of yourself or do your presentation in crayons — just ask your boss first.
3. Break the rules
Sometimes, breaking the rules can liberate the mind. Vincent van Gogh broke the rules on what a flower should look like. Pablo Picasso broke the rules on how to draw a woman’s face. Sigmund Freud broke the rules on how to treat mental illness. In the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico, athlete Dick Fosbury broke the rules on how to execute a high jump and he created a revolutionary way of crossing the bar. Today, it is called the Fosbury Flop.
4. Think visually
Painter, sculptor, thinker and inventor Leonardo da Vinci believed in developing all the five senses, especially vision. Observe carefully what is happening around you. Try to think in pictures: Albert Einstein imagined riding on a beam of light; architect Frank Lloyd Wright thought of houses as integral parts of the landscape, not as separate structures.
5. Focus on the immediate problem
Leonardo da Vinci likened concentration to a small room. He said: “Small rooms discipline the mind; large rooms distract it.” Necessity and the need to eliminate an immediate problem can inspire some very creative and impactful solutions.
In 1924, during America’s Fourth of July celebrations, Caesar Cardini’s restaurant kitchen ran out of some supplies and the restaurateur was forced to create something out of the ingredients he had. That is how Caesar Salad was born.
Donut rings made their debut when a customer complained that the centre of her donut was uncooked. The chef angrily cut a hole in the centre to quickly solve the problem. Potato chips found their place on the menu because a diner complained that the potato slices served to him were too thick. Irritated, the chef purposely sliced the potatoes thinly and deep-fried them. The diner loved it and a fast food staple made its way into history. Hot dogs were created when a sausage seller ran out of skewers, and borrowed bread buns from a neighbouring stall to hold the meat.
Thinking creatively can open up new opportunities, and what’s best is that you will have fun at the same time.