Before thinking about how to be more creative, let me begin point out some real barriers that some people seem to have when wanting to enhance creativity, have a think if any of these things are applicable to you and your life;
1. Lack of time. This is not as major as you may think. Linking thoughts and ideas only takes seconds. It can happen anytime, anywhere. Provided you are in the right state and pay attention to your own experience.
Creativity in my opinion is more about the quality of the time you have and being receptive to yourself. Though this does take some time.
2. Fear of being judged. When I worked for a national newspaper and we had brainstorming sessions, individuals were often scared of expressing ideas. Creativity results in unusual ideas and perhaps even being different in some way. They can be thought of as strange, odd or challenging. Fear of being considered weird, stupid or just different often kills creativity. If I feared people thinking any of those things about me, I would not bother getting out of bed in the mornings; I love the fact that people think I am all of those things!!
3. Lack of self-esteem. When you do something creative, you go beyond the bounds of what has been safe and familiar in the past, to yourself and maybe even others. When you are not sure about yourself, being different in any way can feel risky or make you feel vulnerable. The danger is that you give up your new insight to just blend in. Smash out of those shackles!
4. Fear of failure. This inhibits us. If you are making a new connection in your brain there can be no inherent "right" or "wrong" about it. Failure can only have two meanings really; firstly, that it didn't work in the way you wanted it to. Secondly, Someone else did not like it. But so what??!! I have to tell you all that I get many comments on how I generate so many successful projects and am often asked how I do it. I always point out that these projects are actually only about 10% of what I have imagined. The other 90% didn't work or didn't get out of my brain.
Creativity is not reserved for genius only. Einstein was brilliant but he is not necessarily the best model of creativity for us. You do not need specialist expertise to be creative. The fruits of your creativity may manifest in many, many differing ways, in fact I expect so.
If at any time you doubt your ability to be creative, remind yourself that several times every night you create an entirely new dream, which you script, act in and watch, which involves all your senses and has effects that can last long after they are over. This creation is so very effortless most people don't even recognise it as such.
How to be more creative.
Ok, so how does one actually go about getting more creative. Let me give you some ideas;
1. Find the right frame of mind. Explore what states you associate with being creative. Discover properly what it is that triggers and maintains you being creative. What's your best time of day? The best environment? Do you need to be alone or with others or alone in the midst of others? Do you need sounds or silence or background sounds? Build a profile of your creativity state, then make time and space for it on a regular basis instead of waiting for some divine intervention and for it to just happen on its own.
2. Cultivate dreaming. Pay attention to your experience of life and attention to your existing creativity rather than dismissing day-dreams and dreams. Don't allow yourself to waste what you may already be discovering by ignoring it.
3. Ask yourself "What if?" and "What else?" and "How else?" Always go beyond what you fist thought, find more and more different ideas.
4. When and/or if you hit a problem, pretend your usual solution is not available. This can work in many different ways. If your PC crashes today, how else might you do your work? If you usually argue face to face, what would happen if you wrote your feelings down instead? Some solutions may be no better than the ones you're used to: others may offer you brilliant new opportunities. Do something different. I wrote about that idea in an earlier article entitled Do something Different, go check it out.
5. See how many different results you can get with the same ingredients. I am sure many of you know that there is a cookbook called "Recipes 1-2-3" by Rozanne Gold, in which every recipe is made out of only three ingredients.
Some recipes use the same three ingredients but different processes or quantities come up with different results.
You can have some great fun by taking an every day object and imagine or think about how many other uses it can have, you can even think about how to combine them with other objects.
6. Think of different ways to do the familiar. Change the order in which you do things, use different things, use your less favoured hand; as soon as we break routine, we move from a state where we are on auto-pilot to one where we are alive and alert. You exercise unfamiliar brain connections and help build new links in your brain. A glorious feeling!
7. Look out for the difference that makes the difference. When you encounter something that strikes you as different, ask yourself what it is about it that is so different or new or unusual. Where does the key difference actually lie?
I want to mention a strategy that is well talked about in NLP circles and that I have used for many years and that is the Disney Creativity Strategy.
The Disney creativity strategy is for developing your dreams and giving them the best possible chance of becoming reality. It is named after Walt Disney, who often took on three different roles when his team was developing an idea; the dreamer, the realist and the critic. Robert Dilts, an NLP pioneer, modelled and developed this strategy as an NLP tools. Some of Robert's articles that he kindly donated can be found at my website.
The strategy separates out these three vital roles involved in the process of translating creative ideas into reality so that they can be explored separately for maximum clarity and effect.
Many companies have specialists in each of the three fields and I have done consultancy work with companies myself whereby I have asked different team members to take on one of the roles. You can also play all three roles yourself as I often do in coaching or business consultancy, with your own wants, needs and goals.
However, the usual way to use it is to allocate three roles to different people (realist, dreamer and critic) to assess plans or tasks. Ask someone to act as the dreamer and tell you all the possibilities of the idea. Ask someone else to examine exactly what would be involved in putting it into practice (realist), and someone to take a hard look at it and really evaluate its strengths and weaknesses (critic). You may want to rotate the roles. If doing it on your own, be sure to keep the roles very separate and write them down. I do this with lots of my own ideas and with changes I want to make in my life.
You can even use this in a meeting broken down into three stages; Each role as a separate stage. Get everyone brainstorming and being creative first; then get them thinking about what would actually have to happen in practical terms; then get them critically evaluating the possibilities.
I suggest that you have some fun being creative and doing things differently to generate more creativity. It feels wonderful and if you have found that your progress to success or the outcomes you desire has been blocked or gone stagnant, then think about being more creative in how and what you are doing.