I never know, week to week, from where the seeds of my next blog might come. Sometimes, something will catch my eye—a news article, TV show, chance encounter, LinkedIn post, or some other social media share. It’s all part of the creative process, and this week I’ve been thinking about creativity—go figure!—which brought my attention to my almost two-year-old blog on the topic.
After re-reading it, there’s not much I’d change or add, except one thing, one strategy for getting the creative juices flowing, especially for youngsters: put the handheld electronics down. As great and fun and entertaining as they are, smartphones, tablets, gaming devices—you name it—literally suck the imagination and creativity right out of you. These devices do all the thinking and all the visualization for you, leaving nothing to the imagination.
I know I’m guilty of spending too much time online and plugged in at times, and I can’t help but wonder where our collective ability to imagine and create will be 5, 10, or 15 years from now as these abilities begin to suffer from lack of use.
How can you add to your “Creativity” quotient? Step one is to unplug once in a while. As for Steps two, three, and more . . . read on. Enjoy!
Let’s Get Creative
(Originally posted on August 29, 2012)
When I hear someone say, “Hey you’re the creative one, I’m not,” I begin to shudder. What a weak excuse for someone not to think!
Whether someone is a “left brain” or “right brain,” we can all be creative. In fact, we all can apply creativity to our jobs and to our everyday lives. All it takes is effort and willingness to apply ourselves to making our lives “happen” vs. sitting back and simply letting things happen to us.
Creativity can be found when pen gets applied to paper, paint to canvas, and even fingers to a keyboard (whether it be a computer keyboard or musical instrument). Creativity is where an idea begins . . . and who is to say where it ends?
Can an accountant be creative? Sure. While most of us probably think numbers and spreadsheets and assets and liabilities get pretty “dry” and dull after a while, I call a numbers wiz who brings a fresh eye to the books and finds tax savings or profits where there were none before VERY creative. (Note to my accountant, let’s not get too creative, though, OK?)
CEOs can be creative, too, and they don’t have to be the heads of toy companies. They can be creative in the way they lead or manage or express the visions of their companies. Case in point, Steve Jobs. He was a CEO and he was pretty creative, wouldn’t you agree?
Even the groundskeeper at your local sports complex can be creative, from mowing patterns in the grass, to plantings and flowers that add a dash of color throughout the seasons, to figuring ways to drain excess water from the fields after a storm.
There are many, many ways to be creative in the marketplace:
- Ingenious marketing campaigns that drive business and create demand
- Cutting edge leadership and management techniques that motivate staff and boost productivity
- Product line extensions that allow companies to capture market share, such as introducing the Droid, or a new model Toyota.
- Creating new products and new markets altogether, such as Ford’s Model T (back in the day) or the iPad.
- And much, much more . . .
Likewise, there are myriad ways to be creative in our personal lives:
- Surprising our partners/family with new and exciting meals
- Decorating our homes or planting gardens
- Finding fun ways to grow relationships with loved ones and spouses
- Planning trips or vacations, etc.
Without creativity, there is no innovation; there are no new ideas. Life—personal or professional—stagnates. Without creativity, we are only treading water, waiting for someone else to come along with that next big “thing,” that next great idea. But great ideas are not guaranteed. They take effort and they require the right conditions.
As a country, we can’t afford to become creatively apathetic. From youngsters in pre-school, all the way to seniors enjoying their golden years, we should be doing all we can to encourage creativity . . . and I’m not talking government programs or incentives. I’m talking parents, teachers, spouses, partners, friends, strangers, business colleagues, direct reports, independent contractors—EVERYONE!
Here’s an easy way to add more creativity to your life. Simply excuse yourself from your day-to-day routine on occasion and expose yourself to some other stimulus that lets you tap your inner child. Maybe it’s a walk on the beach, meditation, a trip to the mall, a good glass of wine, or simply listening to your favorite music. Just let the ideas flow. You might be surprised where they take you!
A life devoid of creativity is boring and dull and dissatisfying. Of course, being creative doesn’t mean you have to whip up a gourmet meal ever night, write the next great American novel, or dream up whatever will one day replace the iPad—but it could. You can be creative in small, thoughtful ways, too, that make you and those around you feel energized, happy, and looking forward to the next moment, the next day, the next “creation.”
First and foremost, creativity should be and needs to be FUN.
How are you already creative in your life? How might you be even more creative?
Share your experiences and ideas here.
RECOMMENDED READING—Ideal for inspiring marketers, artists, teachers, and anyone who needs fresh ideas for work and home, Jump Start Your Brain by Doug Hall helps readers crank up both their cranium and career.