"Creativity comes from looking for the unexpected and stepping outside your own experience” - Masaru Ibuka
The drive to grow leads and sales, meet tight deadlines and wear five hats at once is enough to suck the creativity right out of anyone. At the same time, creativity and innovative thinking are the backbone of entrepreneurial success, and business growth demands it.
The irony for us as business owners and entrepreneurs is that we are so busy doing, trying to check all the boxes, we forget that our most powerful creative thinking comes when we relax, travel, or do something not directly related to those darned boxes at all.
“How to unlock creativity: slow down, study another field, get into nature, get out of office, music (lots), sketch, cardio before/after, nibble on small ideas, throw stuff away, atomize the work, look for orthogonal inspiration, breathe, learn about circadian rhythm, paint.” ~Brian Norgard
We are all born with creativity but as we grow to adulthood many push that to the back of our mind, thinking creativity won’t help them become successful business leaders. But using your creative abilities is a necessity to be more fulfilled and successful in your career.
As children we often played make-believe or played games that we made up the rules for.
What rules are you willing to break in order to be a thought leader in your industry?
We dreamed up characters and talked to our stuffed animals like they were alive.
Where can you infuse personality into your business rather than treating it like an inanimate object?
As adults we obsess over what others will think of us and our ideas.
Where can you step outside of the need to compete with and emulate others, and innovate a fresh approach?
If you aren’t asking yourself the questions above regularly, it can rapidly kill your creativity, your passion, and eventually, your business.
You can learn how to tap into your creativity in many ways (HINT: They typically have little or no direct connection to your business!) However, once you begin to infuse creativity generating practices into your daily life, it can be brought up to the surface when you need it, and typically, on demand. Your creativity practice doesn’t have to be creating art or building something, although that is certainly a part of being creative.
Here are 13 strategies to try to tap into your creativity and make it an integral part of your life:
1. Walk aimlessly. Yep. Leave your phone at home and just walk. Of course you need to pay attention to where you are and where you’re going. Otherwise just walk. If you get lost, ask someone for directions. This leaves you open to the unknown and builds a connection being okay with uncertainty.
2. Create a list of 10 bad ideas. Seriously. We jump so fast to judge our ideas as good or bad, and rarely allow them to just exist. You must be willing to fail or look bad to tap into your creativity. Stretch your creative thinking skills by coming up with 10 original ideas. (You don’t have to act on them!)
3. Create a unique solution to a problem you’re having. Make a list of problems you’re having in one column. Then make a list of creative ways you could attack each one. Think outside the normal solutions.
4. Dance by yourself. Let your mind relax and enjoy the feeling of movement. Your body and mind are connected. Dancing lets your body have a creative outlet. Doing so alone allows you to dance freely without having to see how you look doing so. This lets you be more open and release creative blocks.
5. Take a break. When you are in the middle of your problem, you often don’t see but one solution. Changing what you’re doing helps your brain break free of the pattern. Take a few minutes to take a short nap or go for a short walk. The moment right before or right after a nap are especially fertile in bringing in creativity. Walking as well frees up your brain to allow creativity to flow.
6. Go to a different location when you’re in a mental rut. Travel is great for this, but you needn't travel far at all. Go to a place that makes you happy, such as a nature preserve. Go somewhere where you can relax and just lose yourself without thought.
7. Connect with your inner child. This is not about healing old wounds. It is the part of you that is untouched by them. What did you like to do for fun? Did you jump rope or ride bikes? See animals in the clouds or build rocket ships to the moon? Hold space for your inner child to run wild by swinging on a swing set, playing checkers or lying in the grass looking at the clouds.
8. Color. Coloring isn’t just for kids. It’s a great way to boost your creativity while relaxing you. Grab an adult coloring book and some colored pencils. Find a quiet place and let your creativity flow. The act of coloring is calming and meditative and gets your mind moving in an imaginative way.
9. Meditate and do yoga. Even if you believe you can’t. Tap into your creative energy that is naturally flowing through you by practicing yoga and meditating. Yoga opens up your chakras and gets the life-force energy flowing as it strengthens your body. Meditation, perfect or otherwise, even for just 10 minutes, calms your “monkey brain” that gets in the way of the creative muse within you.
10. Try a new skill. Your creativity is sparked when you learn a new skill. You have to be open to learning and trying, which is a part of being creative. Sign up to learn how to paint or take up voice lessons. Try a weekend of snowboarding or spend some time learning how to fly-fish. You’ll enjoy yourself learning a new skill as you expand your creative.
11. Try some amateur Feng Shui to allow creativity to flow. Feng Shui is about creating balanced areas of your home or office. For example, place whimsical and playful items in certain areas to overcome creative blocks.
12. Take a different route to work. This shakes up your routine, activating different parts of your brain. A different route gives you a different perspective and you start to see things differently.
13. Read different types of books that you normally wouldn’t read and varying them. Read a self-help book followed by a political memoir, for example. This opens up your mind and inspiration.
Changing how you do things or by spending time alone is a surefire way to tap into your creativity. Whether you try one of these strategies or others that help to boost your creativity, you are sure to find the ones that work best for you. Your business will thank you, and your stress level will improve as well.
If you know you need a creativity boost for yourself and your business or team, let's talk! Innovation workshops can have a huge impact on team engagement and innovative thinking.