While we live in an age of digitalization and globalization, innovation and technological breakthroughs are the new normal. There was never a time where creativity was more needed. Creativity is the one thing where humans are still better than machines and robots.
But what is creativity about and how to find your creativity? Get the ideas to unleash your full potential.
What is creativity about?
Creativity isn´t about originality; it´s about adding value. When you look at the history of great innovations, you will find one thing that creators have in common, the ability to make surprising links between things that already existed and connect the dots in surprising ways. To this, you need an open-minded approach that embraces randomness, chance, and lucky coincidence.
Knowledge doesn´t make you more creative
School is all about learning facts and knowing them by heart, so you are prepared for life.
But now the stored knowledge isn´t that valuable anymore because it is often just one click away.
Now what really sets us apart isn´t what we know rather our ability to learn skills faster. There is a big difference between trying to teach a grandparent how to use a computer or how a small child instinctively knows how to use a smartphone.
Being a quick learner is necessary now more than ever in an age that is defined by technological breakthroughs. As everything is constantly changing and renewing, we need to keep up, and that gives young people an advantage.
What also helps is to listen carefully to the people around you and notice things that resonate with you and your creative instincts.
But remember, creativity isn´t about gaining more knowledge because a lot of information won´t make you more creative rather, you get even less creative.
Why? The more you know about something, the more you limit your thinking about it.
An example would be the taxi industry, where taxi companies have considered how they can renew the industry. But the most innovative new company was from the outside sector. It was Uber, a new business that opened up the taxi market to car owners and all types of people.
It is what made Uber’s ideas partly fresh. The strategies weren´t limited by testing ideas on how to run a taxi business; rather, it frees up space to think creatively. The result? It is a brand new service that benefits the common people.
Two are better than one
To get more creativity, you need to find someone to bounce your ideas off. Whatever you are planning, two will always have more ideas than one. But you also need to think carefully about whom you want to work with.
So if you need a video for your company, then you start a collaboration with a brilliant video artist. As you figured out who can help you archive success, you contact them and convince them to join you.
In most cases, you will be more creative when you work with others. It is called a sandbox model of creativity.
Think of children in a sandbox; their innovation can come fast. When one child starts digging into one side of the mount of sand, the other playmate is likely to start digging from the other side. What happens? Suddenly there is a tunnel.
It is a good example of how creativity works in a team.
Making space for more ideas
Most people treasure their favorite possessions because there are few things more precious than something you have created. This is a natural mindset, but it is often not helpful as your best work is the result of letting go.
This is especially true for ideas because when you want to think creatively, it is all about finding new solutions. To get there, you need to throw out ideas that don´t work.
It is like a closet where if you have too many clothes, you need to free up space to buy new things, so you have to sort out old belongings.
If you want to get your creative juices flowing, it isn´t just about having courage. It is also about getting enough rest and relaxation.
Your brain doesn´t shut down when you sleep; rather is remains quite active. When you sleep, your brain does the important work of organizing your memories and creating dreams. Those are the sources of inspiration you get.
However, because you do not continuously process these ideas, you can´t access them immediately. That´s why it is essential to take the time to relax and goof around. Those are often the moments when you get a flash of inspiration.
Lots of creative get their best idea when least expected, like going for a walk or taking a relaxing bath.
The core values of creativity
Creativity is a lot of things, but it is not diplomatic and also not about money first.
To start being more creative, you need to say what you really think, so being really honest.
It is an essential skill in any creative field. Say you are in marketing, and you get contacted by a client that asks you to promote really bad products.
When you only look at the bottom line, you might well agree to the commission. After all, plenty of agencies, unhealthy, wasteful, and uninterested products can be great moneymakers.
It is a huge waste of creative human resources.
You might not land the job if you are fully honest about the client’s ideas, but you will save a lot of hassle in the long run. The good is you get time to work on something more meaningful.
Two other core values for creativity are love and respect.
No matter what you are producing, be it a product, building a brand, or making art or a movie, nothing will help more to reach and move your audience like love and respect.
Most Humans will appreciate these values as the survival of our species depends on it. Now and then, we are good at spotting these values when they emerge.
If you, as an example, only make movies purely for the cash chances are high, it is pretty generic. But when you put some love and respect into your work, it is much more likely that you produce something others will like and appreciate more.
So whatever you make, these core values should be at the heart of your work.
Relaxing is better than working
There are many different examples of getting inspiration when people stop thinking about a nagging problem. For instance, Paul McCartney has the melody for his song “Yesterday from a dream.
To be truly creative, you sometimes need to stop trying to create. Creativity is an area of your life where the Pareto principle applies; 20 percent of your work will end up producing 80 percent of the results. Resting will take up the majority of your time, but you won’t have anything to show your efforts.
Creativity isn´t really a form of work. Rather you are more creative when you switch off your prefrontal cortex that is responsible for logical tasks like accounting and administration in your brain.
The reason is the part of your brain isn´t well suited for creative types of work. It constantly filters information out, which seems irrelevant. However, this is the kind of information where creativity thrives.
There’s nothing quite like letting thoughts mix with irrelevant information to spark the creative thought process. It makes doing nothing so important.
Whether it is simply relaxing in a hammock or sitting on your couch, anything, where you can switch off your prefrontal cortex, will be the first step to be more creative.
While a business account needs to be well ordered and organized, creativity loves mess. That’s why you need randomness in your life to awaken your creative side.
Sparking your creativity with boredom and making a mess
Accessing your creativity isn´t simple, as it often can feel like a locked system you have to hack into. But there are some try and test techniques you can start using
To unlock your creative potential, you should start with getting bored. It is a great way to stimulate your creative instincts. When your brain is feeling understimulated, there is nothing better than a good distraction.
An example to prove these theories would be the group of researchers from the University of Central Lancashire in the UK. They gave two groups a couple of cups with the task of finding creative ways to use them.
While the first group was told to focus on the task simply, the second group was told to think about the challenge while copying numbers on paper from an endless list.
The result was the second group found much more creative ways of using the cups. Why? Copying down those numbers was so boring that their brains were desperate to do something else.
Another great way to stimulate your creativity is to have some kind of mess in your workspace.
No, it doesn´t mean to empty your trash over your desk. It is enough to place visually interesting objects in your room you work. You need things that make you think when you look at them like posters, magazines, artwork, and so on. It is often an unconscious process that triggers new ideas that you may even aren´t aware of.
Many people made more creative drawings when they work in a messy room instead of having everything in order. Good examples would be to google Steves Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg’s desks.
Finding inspiration by going for a walk
When you are feeling stuck and doubtful, you should simply switch off your computer and go for a walk. The streets and forests have long been and an excellent source of inspiration.
Take philosophers like Rousseau, who argued that thinking only works well when your legs are moving. Or Nietzsche, who developed most of his ideas while walking.
You don´t have to work on a great theory of knowledge, but a philosophical mindset will help get you the most from your walks.
To get in the right state of mind, you need to notice what is going around you. This means not rushing through the streets while listening to your headphones and thinking about your worries rather start really looking at the world around you.
It is a long time tradition of creativity to wander streets at random and looking for inspiration by the sights and sounds they encounter.
When you head out, start by focusing on your senses. What can you see, smell, and hear? Once your focus is on what is going on around you, you can move on to the next stage.
There you will be wandering to try to find the answer to a question that is bothering you. Say you need a new idea for art design. When you stroll around and rely on your senses to guide you, you may get amazed at how many things can spark your imagination along the way.
Finally, you need to share your insights with someone. Tell the person about your experiences, what you smelled, the sights, the conversation, and the sounds you encounter. Remember, even small details can lead you to answer what you are searching for.
Creativity isn´t about Originality
Many people are obsessed with creative originality in a world where everything is supposed to be innovative and unique.
But if you try too hard to be original, it can be a trap. It is a big obstacle when you think everything has to be 100-percent original. Originality is basically a myth because many creative people are often prophets with obscure and novel ideas no one ever heard before.
However, humans aren´t gods that are able to create something out of nothing; rather, creativity is a social and cultural process. Whenever someone creates the inspiration and reference comes from the world where they live in.
In other words, creativity means to add your own twist to things that already exist. All it takes is to combine two things in a slightly different way.
You find a lot of creative breakthroughs that result out of the exact approach.
Gutenberg used two different ideas to invent the printing press. He used the flexibility of a coin punch and combined it with the power of a wine press.
So the good news is creativity isn’t about thinking the problem through but more about trusting your instincts and creating a situation where inspiration can strike.
Pay attention to the moments when you get inspired.
While everybody works differently, you need to find a situation when your creativity is unleashed the most. When you experience these moments, make a note of what you were doing and when it happened. It may be the case; it happens when you are walking or dreaming whichever it is. If you identify it, you can create a shortcut to access your creativity.
So make a little mess in your workspace or go for a walk and soak up the atmosphere around you. You will get surprised by how many ideas you get when you least expect them.