Creativity is one of those virtues that we seem to embrace as children and shun as adults. Unless you are in an artistic field… mainstream society will probably tell you, you don’t have a ‘real’ job… and creativity in a j-o-b can be close to nil.
Even in many marketing firms where creativity can make or break an ad campaign, many corporations simply can’t bring themselves to make the leap outside the box. It’s an odd paradox…companies want to be seen as current and edgy, but at the same time, they are afraid to take risks. Go figure! The result is a lukewarm creative response that leaves viewers uninspired and unimpressed.
What does all this mean for you? Well, it means that if you are a creative mind, you might face an uphill battle in receiving the respect and consideration you deserve. It also means that if you tend to think like the mainstream, you need to explore how to incorporate creative techniques into your skill set. You need to get creative, if you want to get noticed.
The Fuel Behind Creativity
Before we get into some ideas of how to improve your creative mind, let’s take a look at what is known to fuel creativity.
Dr. Teresa Amabile of the Harvard Business School did one of the most thorough reviews of creativity from a research standpoint. Her examination of nearly 12,000 daily journal entries from business employees led to the following conclusions:
- Anyone can be creative. Creativity is not merely limited to ‘creative types.’
- Money can actually have a negative effect on creativity. When people believe their paycheck is on the line, they tend to stick to conservative, old-faithful ways of doing things…might explain why many tend to be risk-adverse.
- Tight deadlines and distractions can crush creativity
- Creativity is most associated with joy and happiness. Angry, sad and anxious people are rarely creative.
- Collaboration with others can fuel creativity.
Improving Your Creativity
Drawing from Dr. Amabile’s findings, here are some ways that you can help fuel your creative spark.
Give Yourself Time: Being under the gun is a sure way to clam up and lose creativity. When you are rushed, not only do you lose the opportunity to flesh out your idea thoroughly, but you will also be inclined to fall back on tried-and-true alternatives. If you want to choreograph a new routine, pulling an all-nighter to perfect it before your recital probably isn’t going to work. Instead of something fun, fresh and new, you will find yourself doing the same old moves.
Find that Zen State of Mind: Remember how happy people are creative people? You need to find that sweet spot – your Zen zone where troubles slip away. To get there you, might want to invest in quality alone time — take up yoga or meditate. Everyone will have a different way to get the self-care they need. Dump the energy drains in your life and other toxic influences. Let the joy come into your life, and allow the creativity flow.
Stop Walking Alone: Who can’t use support and encouragement? Work together with others in your field – as well as related fields – to get the creative juices flowing. From a practical standpoint, this can be immensely helpful. Others can give you ideas as to how they make room for creativity. Getting fresh perspectives sparks ideas.
Work Outside Your Comfort Zone: Practicality is probably the #1 killer of creativity. Familiarity comes in a close second. Just because something has always been done a certain way doesn’t mean that it is the best way – or the right way. Mix up your routine and approach a problem from a different angle. You might be surprised to find that the old way was actually dragging you down.
Don’t be Afraid to Fail: If you never fail, you will never improve. Sure it can be embarrassing at first, but never let others shame you into standing still. This is your life to live to the fullest. If you never take risks – if you never fail – you will never grow. I’ll leave you with this quote from Henry Ford that sums it up nicely:
Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently. – Henry Ford
Image via Wonderlane on Flickr