Do you consider yourself to be "creative?" Chances are, the answer is "No" or "Well, sometimes."
Why is that so?
I work with educational leaders and got this from a long-time school principal:
If you ask first-graders how many of them are "creative," pretty much all of the hands in the class go up. They smile. They show their colorful drawings and finger painting and maybe even compose a song along the way.
What happens when the same question is asked of the same kids a few years later?
The responses drop to nearly zero. And the kids are still in elementary school.
Fast forward to your business meeting. Someone says "Let's get creative about how to grow the market in Asia. We've got until 5 o'clock."
We've got little kids who are convinced they are creative. Then we've got bigger little kids who start to doubt themselves. Then, we end up with adults who are sure they aren't creative but are being asked to create--with a deadline.
This post is a call for thought, not a rant. It seems to me that we have taken an entire population of creative youngsters, taught them to color inside the box (or else!), and now tell them to "think outside the box"--(or else!).
Creativity: The Magic Synthesis
1. Aloneness. Being alone allows the person to make contact with the self and be open to new kinds of inspiration.
2. Inactivity. Periods of time are needed to focus on inner resources and to be removed from the constraints of routine activities.
3. Daydreaming. Allows exploration of one's fantasy life and venturing into new avenues for growth.
4. Free thinking. Allows the mind to wander in any direction without restriction and permits the similarities among remote topics or concepts to emerge.
5. State of readiness to catch similarities. One must practice recognizing similarities and resemblances across to perceptual of cognitive domains.
6. Gullibility. A willingness to suspend judgment allows one to be open to possibilities without treating them as nonsense.
7. Remembering & replaying past traumatic conflicts. Conflict can be transformed into more stable creative products.
8. Alertness. A state of awareness that permits the person to grasp the relevance of seemingly insignificant similarities.
9. Discipline. A devotion to the techniques, logic, and repetition that permit creative ideas to be realized.
So, now we go to our boss and declare boldly, "I'd like to have some extended alone time for inactivity and daydreaming so I can come up with a creative idea for your strategy."
(Please let me know how that conversation goes).
How You Can Create Creativity
Then next time you have charge of a meeting or idea session, how about using some of the above items to lay a foundation for creativity.
- Use a mind-mapping activity to address numbers 4 and 5.
- Suspend judgment and encourage the craziest ideas in the room, because
- Alertness (number 8) will connect the "crazy" dots
I hope you'll use these to be intentional about creativity. It sounds almost like an oxymoron--"intentional creativity"--but according to number nine it isn't.
Intentional Creativity--that's a lot easier to sell to your boss than some alone time.
Resource: If you want to explore a lot more about creativity, you'll want to check in with Mark McGuinness at Lateral Action. Mark has a terrific blog and newsletter; when it comes to creativity, he's my immediate "go-to" guy.