Are you creative?
Most people answer “no”, when in fact, each and every person is creative. Unfortunately, our schooling and training often grinds the creativity right out of us, as we’re asked to come up with the “correct” answer (not the many possible answers…except, of course in things like arithmetic where 2 + 2 does equal 4)…spit back memorized answers…stop daydreaming, and the like.
In an article by Linda Naiman , she quotes a 2010 Global CEO study that stated that “more than rigor, management discipline, integrity or even vision – successfully navigating an increasing complex world will require creativity.”
In referencing the work of Daniel Pink, Pink argues that a shift from logical, linear left-brain thinking to creative right-brain thinking is essential to making the shift from the information age to the conceptual age. His book, A Whole New Mind is based on the premise that “right-brainers will rule the future”.
If that’s the case, and we’re still mired in an educational system that prepares students for a future that doesn’t exist, how do we go about fostering and promoting creativity? Be sure to check out this TED talks video by Sir Ken Robinson, “Do schools kill creativity?”.
To talk about fostering creativity in a global sense is far beyond the scope of this little blog post. What we can do is start with ourselves. How can each and every one of us inject more creativity into our daily lives? Here are 10 little tips:
- Write, draw and paint with your non-dominant hand.
- Read something on a topic you normally wouldn’t read about. Learning something new, combined with repetition, creates strengthened neural pathways. And just like with exercising the body, exercising the mind will result in “A mind once stretched by a new idea never regains original dimensions.” Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.
- Capture your ideas as they come to you. Carry a notebook (digital or old-school paper) and jot down those lightbulb ideas. Accompany them with doodles, drawings and renderings to make them even more powerful, because we think in pictures, not words.
- Read a book upside down and backwards. Yes, crazy as it sounds, it will exercise your brain. This can be especially effective if you’re stuck on a task and thinking too hard. You probably have experienced a time when you were stuck on a problem, thinking really hard and just couldn’t come up with an answer. Only when you weren’t thinking about it did the eureka ah-ha moment come. Exercising your brain and taking your focus away from the task can accomplish this too.
- On that same note…take a walk…listen to music you don’t usually listen to…brainstorm with a friend. Remove yourself from the challenge at hand, relax your thoughts. Your ability to creatively conquer the challenge will be at hand.
- Take a dictionary or book and randomly open to a page, put your finger on a word and write down that word. Do that ten times. Use those ten words in a story or potential blog post. Free your mind by using random words in your writing to free the inner self-editor.
- Do something that’s outside your comfort zone. I learned to ride a motorcycle simply because I was afraid of it. It taught me that I could accomplish things that I found fearful and outside my bounds. Taking managed risk can get you outside of your boxed in thinking.
- Change your habits and routines. If you take a walk in the same place or direction, change that up. If you always brush your teeth holding your toothbrush in one hand, change it to the other. If you always put your pants on one leg at a time…nahhh, forget that one:)
- Stop. Look. Listen. Do you really hear and see what’s going on around you? When was the last time you truly took in your environment with your senses? Smell the new cut grass. Watch a butterfly flit among flowers. Observe people as they go about their day. Take time to truly absorb what’s going on, instead of simply reacting to what’s in your immediate field of vision.
- Become more curious by asking the question “why” more often. Why is the sky blue? Why do penguins waddle? Why can’t I put my pants on two legs at a time?…just kidding about that last one:) If we were all to re-ignite the child-like curiosity we all possess, our ability to think creatively would increase exponentially, and our value in this conceptual age will be money in the bank.
What will you do today to exercise your creativity?