CREATIVITY is a fascinating subject.
The word itself tends to evoke images of quirky weirdness, sidelining creativity to a fringe populace of misfits.
However, creativity is less about standing apart from the crowd and more about seeking — and finding — new ways to do things.
As we encounter the little problems of everyday life, the common response is to try and solve them.
Nobody likes being thwarted, so we seek to remove obstacles that are in our way. In trying to overcome these challenges, we automatically engage in a very creative process.
Far from being a special characteristic that is randomly bestowed upon a select few, experts on the subject are finding that creativity is orderly and, by using a specific set of techniques, “teachable”.
A good habit
Creativity is, in fact, a potential that everyone has. At its core, creativity is a matter of expression.
How “creative” you are depends on how often (if at all) you engage in the following five habits which can be considered the “core competencies” of creative expression:
1. Preserve new ideas
You often marvel at new ideas, remarking at the seeming ingenuity of the author while wondering why you never come up with similar breakthroughs yourself.
Chances are, you have, and it is more than likely that you failed to preserve the new idea or insight as it came to you.
By definition, something that is new falls outside of your normal operating awareness. This means that you hardly acknowledge, much less recall, having had that creative burst of insight.
Sometimes, when you have new ideas, you reject them out of hand, fearing that they may be too weird or advanced to be acceptable.
Therefore, to be truly inspired, you have to cultivate the habit of capturing new ideas as they come to you, without making snap judgments.
A good exercise would be to keep a notepad handy at all times to record new insights as they come to you.
Simply note it down first. Evaluate the idea later.
2. Choose your surroundings
Mixing in the right company is crucial to determining creativity.
A large part of creativity involves expressing ideas in different and unique ways.
Creative environments and people are often regarded as interesting because their unconventional take on things challenges and stimulates us.
Therefore, exposing yourself to creative people and environments will prompt your own ideas to become more diverse, which will in turn facilitate the birth of creative insights.
3. Challenge yourself
It is not enough to simply immerse yourself in inspiring surroundings.
Like any skill, the only way to improve your creativity is to work on it.
Habitually tackling tough problems will help to promote creativity.
When solving challenging tasks, multiple skills and behaviours are engaged, competing with each other for attention.
As a result, interconnections form as the brain synthesises thoughts for a coherent solution, prepping it for new ideas that foster creativity.
4. Broaden your horizons
Learn as much as you can about subjects beyond your current scope of work.
Not only will you pick up nuggets of information, diverse knowledge also helps you form more interesting interconnections, which in turn boosts your creativity.
5. Don’t give up
Creative people are highly productive and disciplined.
As you unleash and cultivate your flow of ideas, you will encounter many that are downright impractical.
Even promising insights are worth something only if they can be applied in a practical situation.
The solution is to keep working on developing your creativity. The more ideas you have, the higher your ability to have more powerful insights, allowing you to become a better problem-solver.
Sometimes, new ideas need time to be understood by other people, and it is very common for new projects to face initial resistance.
When encountering setbacks, it is important not to give up but to continue with the habits that promote creativity.
Stay focused and disciplined to keep your creative juices flowing, and let the successes you have lead you to a more inspired and satisfying work life.