I am often confronted with a fallacious line of reasoning; that is that only artsy people can be creative. Keep in mind that I have worked with engineers for over two decades, you know these folks are wired for the concrete (figuratively and literally)! Such thoughts that technically oriented people cannot be creative and creative people live in a fantasy world are utterly preposterous. The fact is that technical people can be trained to be creative and creative people are confronted with reality all of the time. Another argument is, why should I practice creative thinking? After all, there are no such original ideas left on the planet; they’re all taken. The fact is if we are eschewing being creative because we cannot be original we are missing out on revealing our art to people. Almost every astounding idea today is a synthesis or connection of two or more other such existing ideas. The art of being creative is powerfully bringing these into fruition by systematizing them into action. If you are going to change the world, you must practice creativity by practicing the art of thinking in this way.
Start by practicing these ten helpful suggestions by executive development leader Dan McCarthy.
1. Challenge current approaches to your work. Give some thought about whether you and your team can work together in new, previously unimaginable possibilities.
2. Challenge existing beliefs and assumptions. Ask yourself, your colleagues and your team whether your current views about how things are done in your company are correct.
3. Be educated. Take a course on a subject like creative thinking, creative writing or improvisational acting to help you exercise your creative thinking muscles.
4. Use Mind-Maps. This little school exercise can help you think through problems. On blank sheet of paper, draw pictures, your ideas and the way in which they can be connected. You can have more creative connections than if you simply listed ideas by themselves.
5. Be positive. See problems as challenges and opportunities. Open your mind to new ideas, even if they at first they seem absurd. Nothing is absurd if it causes you to look at problems or challenges in new ways.
6. Call on creative types. Identify the creative people in your company. Call on them to get involved in brainstorming sessions and other such activities if you need help stimulating your team’s creative juices.
7. Change your routine. Make small changes in your daily routines and physical environment to help you see that things can be done in different ways. Get out of your context and take a nature walk; go to someplace crazy like the zoo or a kindergarten classroom and see how children play. You will be surprised how a child’s natural wonder will inspire you.
8. Listen for change resistance. When you hear someone say, “We have always done it like this,” be ready to challenge their assumptions. Use the phrase: “Up until now…” (We’ve done it this way; we haven’t been able to do this, etc…).
9. Book time to be creative. Block out time in your daily routine that is not booked with a meeting, task, or other work. Use this time to let your thoughts wander: You may also find yourself thinking of new ideas to solve old problems. I love time in the morning because it is usually when you are not strained with other demands.
10. Model creativity. By offering playful and seemingly absurd ideas to others, you model creative thinking. Others may emulate you-further spreading the creative energy in your group.
How can you take steps today to become more creative in your work? You will be amazed at how this can awaken freshness!