OK, for all you folks who love statistics, here’s one: 89.7 percent of all statistics are made up. This next one is actually true; 90 percent of all kids are considered creative—yet only 2 percent of all adults are. What happened to all those creative people? Did aliens come down and surgically remove their creativity, while erasing all memory of the procedure?
“As adults we are so conditioned by the four Rs of adult thinking; rules, restrictions, rejection, and reason,” Michael Michalko, explains in his book “Thinkertoys”, Handbook of Business Creativity.
Well the good news here is you can be a born-again creative with a little devotion. All humans have creative capacity. They just get kind of lame or lazy at times. Now there are few gifted folks that don’t give much effort to creative development, they are the lucky, natural ones. Some of you may be in this group and yes, we hate you.
Wherever you land on the creative meter, I’m going to share some ideas that can keep you in the brilliant, creative zone. Some of these creativity ways are from my experiences, some are from other cool thought leaders pals, and some I made up, because I can, I’m creative.
5 easy actions that can pump up your creative muscle.
1) Back into the problem.
Instead of thinking about the challenge as a big overwhelming project, start with your end goal first. From here section off the desired outcomes into small pieces that, combined, could be the ultimate solution.
2) Work in three-part timed capsules.
If I chunk out eight hours on one project, I spend 95 percent of the time thinking, procrastinating, and then feeling stressed. Not good. Instead, I’ve learned, block out a maximum of three hours at a time on a project, one hour thinking, one hour downloading or writing down my ideas, one hour tightening or different connecting dots. By scheduling these sessions, the deadline drives me to a much more productive outcome.
3) Exercise your mind just like you exercise your body.
Work both sides of your brain.
If you are a fluid writer, spend some time drawing and visualizing your ideas. If you are already visual, try crossword or number puzzles.
Practice thinking with flexibility.
See how many four-word sentences you can craft. Take a set of words (or use your own, just follow the type of word and quantity) like:
I apricots frogs enjoy don’t irritated eagerly anger
4) Pig out on new brain food
Expand your idea simulation bank with obscure publications, movies, and places. Start by going to a magazine or book store, pick up five or six publications not related to your industry or creative challenge. You will be pleasantly surprised at the abundance of new things you will see and then apply to your situation. The same goes for places to visit; try a flea market, a comedy show, a circus, or a specialty store for something that does not connect your problem.
5) Don’t be a duke of habit
Mix up your schedule, break up regimes, change your routine. You will be amazed at what you see, lots of new landscape, and ideas. Do you go to the same coffee shop to chill? Try one on the other side of town. Do you collaborate with the same folks on idea generation? Try a new group of minds, kids, a different lifestyle segment, or a special interest club.
Building creative muscle can be done. It just takes some discipline and work. Here are a few of my favorite books and tools on the subject.
“Creative Block” by Lou Harry
A small square book packed with big ideas.
Roger von Oech’s “Creative Whack Pack”
A deck of 64 ideas stimulating different perspectives to look at a challenge and find the solution.
“Juicing the Orange” by Pat Fallon and Fred Senn
A great read with lots of smart, inspirational thinking from two veteran ad guys.
About the author: Karen Post, a.k.a. The Branding Diva® is an international authority on branding, marketing, and entrepreneurial matters. She is has been featured as a business expert in print publications; on TV, radio, and on Web channels. Karen authored the best-selling book Brain Tattoos, Creating Unique Brands That Stick in your Customers’ Minds and she is co-founder and CEO of Oddpodz.com, an idea engine for creative professionals and business. Her work has benefited large and small organizations in the United States and around the world.