Creativity isn’t a Birthright

Creativity isn’t something you’re born with. Creativity is developed.  People convince themselves they aren’t capable of seeing things differently; “I’m not that creative, I just don’t have it in me.” Wrongly, these same people bestow undue praise on those they deem to be of superior creativity than them; they hold them up as some sort of creative messiah. Yes, some people are more creative than others, but only because they have developed the necessary skills and understanding to be creative.

Creativity is a skill that must be learned, practiced and developed – just like any other skill.  Today, in an over saturated world, where we are starved of time and attention spans are dwindling, creativity and innovation are what helps us take notice.  We are hard wired to only see what is different.   We tend to filter out ideas, products and concepts that don’t offer something unique or unexpected. Creativity is a core component to our success.  It’s looking at a problem or opportunity and asking,

Here are some tips on how to develop your creativity:

Welcome bad ideas. Because we see creativity as a gift awarded to someone at birth, we tend to think of brilliance as a one-time thing, but it’s actually a numbers game. We tend to think that if our first idea isn’t the right one, then we should give up. Picasso painted over 50,000 paintings… some of them were, to be blunt, hideous. Our ideas – and our work – are not all created equal.  Creativity is an exploration of our thoughts and reactions to the subject matter.  To become more creative we have to accept that bad ideas are part of the process.  It’s a must that we offer up every thought we have, it clears our mind to create more ideas and options. Stop worrying about bad ideas, they are an essential part of the creative process.  Encourage yourself to share – and explore – every thought.

Be alone with your thoughts. Creativity is often seen as a group project. However, that’s not necessarily true. Some of our best creative thoughts happen when we create space to be alone with our thoughts.  Steve Wozniak pretty much invented the Apple computer in his garage alone.  One of the most important approaches to creativity is finding a balance between group brainstorms and quiet reflection.  While some of our greatest creative moments will come when we’re alone, normally these breakthroughs happen after we have found time to brainstorm in a larger group. Find time to exchange ideas with others, but don’t try and solve the problem together. Let the ideas percolate and when you find time to quietly reflect you’ll be surprised at how open your mind is to new ideas.

Act like a kid.  Kids are curious.  They want to understand why things work, they experiment with things.  Through their curiosity and willingness to not be constrained by ideas – because they don’t understand constraints – they find unique ways to play with toys. They find the fun in everything.  The more willing you are to explore how and why things work, the more likely you’ll discover something you hadn’t expected. Be curious and playful and see what happens.

Borrow Ideas.  We seem to judge creativity purely on whether an idea is new.  100% unique.  That’s a lot of pressure for us to put on one ourselves. The secret is to ‘borrow’ ideas. To re-engineer what already exists.  Borrow ideas from others that you admire, find interesting, are drawn to and then find a way to build on it.  Challenge yourself to make an improvement.  What would make the idea even stronger?  Borrowing and building upon ideas is the art of creativity.

Pair the unexpected.  Putting opposites together can generate some interesting thoughts.  When we fuse together two things that we believe are opposite or shouldn’t be together we start to challenge our assumptions. Creativity is about questioning our assumptions.  It’s about imagining ‘What if’. Challenge yourself to consider what things may be like if you tried to solve your challenges through an unexpected perspective.

Work backwards. Start with an idea and then work out how to get there.  Start the race from the finish line. When we try and solve problems we start by analyzing – and over analyzing – the challenges we’re faced with. We are so fixated on the problem that finding a solution proves problematic.  We become blinkered and only see the problem.  Creative people start at the end and work backwards.  They dream about what the solution will achieve.  What the solution should do for the better.  They become fixated on what could be done rather than what needs to be done.  Their minds are open rather than closed.  Once they settle on the solution they work out how they get there.

Creativity is subtraction.  In a world where we have access to almost everything we could ever imagine and possibilities are endless, the most creative people have realized that ‘vastness’ is a hindrance to creativity. When there are no lines to paint between, the idea of painting anything is paralyzing. Creative people always apply limits.  They reduce freedom, knowing that constraints actually help to accelerate creativity.

Ask the right question.  Most of the time we fail to create something innovative because the question we pose isn’t the right one to be answering. We settle too often on the first question that comes to mind.  “What do I need to do to open new coffee shop?” imagine if Howard Shultz had asked that question, we’d have no Starbucks. Instead he probably asked something like “How can I create a comfortable, relaxing environment to enjoy good coffee?” Asking the right question unlocks greater creativity.

The best talent have a beautiful yet simplistic way of looking at all the tools they have at their disposal and then using them in new ways.  That’s creativity. Creativity is a necessary skill to possess no matter what you do. Creativity is the engine that fuels change and growth.  You don’t have to create something that changes the world to be labelled creative, simply finding new ways to improve the way things are done is being creative. Start your creative journey today…

About: Paul Kaye

Originally from England, Paul spent nearly a decade programming radio stations in the UK before moving to Canada in 2012. 

While working for Newcap Radio, Paul programmed Classic Hits, Hot-AC and CHR formats in Vancouver & Calgary. Paul was also Newcap’s National Talent Development Director, tasked with improving performance across all content teams, overseeing syndication and leading talent acquisition. In 2016, he joined Rogers Media, as National Talent Coach and National Format Director (CHR). 

Paul was somehow named International PD of the year in 2016 (vote re-count pending) and is a certified coach.  Paul lives in Toronto and can be reached at kaye.paul@mail.com

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