Creativity is normally associated with artists, writers and musicians. But creativity is incredibly important in business as well, especially when you are trying to get your business to the next level or trying to disrupt an industry.
Creativity is also often thought to be just a God-given talent that cannot be learned. The truth is that creativity in many ways is a skill, not just a talent. In other words, it is something that delivers the best results only when it is practiced, learned and developed just like other skills. Edison is known primarily for a few major inventions (The Light Bulb, Phonograph, etc.) but do you know he also made 1093 other inventions, many of them never came into commercial use and have been forgotten? Similarly, Einstein is best known for his paper on the theory of relativity, but do you know that the same genius published 247 other papers, many of which the public doesn’t even know about? It takes a lot of bad ideas to come up with a good one. It takes a lot of bad work to come up with a work of Genius.
Do what you love and what you are good at? It is way too hard to keep going and consistently come up with new creative ideas if you don’t even do what you love. Sure, necessity is the mother of all inventions so you can be creative even if you don’t love what you do but loving what you do makes the whole process a lot easier.
Be around like-minded people. When you are around like-minded people, you can bounce ideas off each other. You get to interact with people who are thinking like you, who have the same goals as you and may be trying to solve a similar problem as yours. In the process of hanging around or interacting with them, you may get ideas or advice that clicks in your head and gets your creative juices flowing. The more you are around people who are motivated and driven in your field, the more you can get ideas from them, at least numerous suggestions that you can then build upon.
Don’t just see, start Observing. You can get some of the greatest creative ideas by just observing the environment around you. You may claim, hey I already observe my environment, it doesn’t give me any ideas! The problem is that you are not observing, you are just seeing. What is the difference between seeing and observing? Let the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes explains it.
In “A Scandal in Bohemia,” Sherlock Holmes’ friend and fellow investigator once asked him, why is it that Holmes was always able to spot things that never occurred to Watson at the time but seemed so amazingly simple and obvious in hindsight. Holmes responded by saying that the answer was simple, Watson saw but did not observe. Watson disagreed by telling Holmes that he observed everything. To explain the difference Holmes said, “Have you observed the stair that leads to the hall we are sitting in?” Watson said that he did as he had walked up them hundreds of times. Then Holmes asked him, ” Then can you tell me the number of steps there are in those stairs?” Watson did not know the answer to the question. Holmes responded” You see but you do not observe, that is why you do not know. I know there are seventeen steps because I do both.”
Start observing things instead of just seeing them become mindful, you will find your creative ability and problem-solving skills go up many folds.
Take the help of a child. This may seem silly but it’s amazing how effective this can possibly be. As adults, our brains often become locked into a predictable pattern of thinking, which has been shaped by years of conditioning. Thinking outside the box as an adult, especially if you have always conformed to the norms is quite difficult.
A child, on the other hand, has not yet been conditioned and their brains are open to ways of thinking and finding solutions in a way that an adult wouldn’t generally think of. Obviously, a child generally won’t be able to solve complex scientific problems, but you can still get hints or inspiration from them that can help you think laterally and come up with better solutions. Don’t believe me? Here is a story about a child’s creativity.
A man was trying to do something, but his daughter kept bothering him. So, he tried to do something that would keep her busy and let him focus on his work. He took out a piece of paper from a book that had the world map and then tore it. He then asked the daughter to go arrange the puzzle. He was convinced this would keep the girl busy for hours, but she came back within 5 minutes.
The man was surprised and asked the girl how she could solve a complex puzzle so easily. She said, “Dad, on the other side of the page there was a woman’s face. I just arranged the woman’s face perfectly and the map assembled on its own.”
Just look around, observe…. we can be creative too!