Creativity is for Artists and Writers. I have heard this one too many times already. When I was growing up society’s view on creativity somehow became a norm among everyone else. Non-artists and non-writers seem to have an excuse for not being creative enough. It was an instant escape mechanism for poor results because of lack of creativity.
One thing I learned throughout the years is that creative people can be found in any profession, ages, nationality, etc. Like any skill, creativity can be learned and honed to greater and higher proportions.
How do I become creative?
Start small. Unless you are one of the few born with innate capabilities; starting from somewhere is the way to go. When we say start small we mean starting in small ways. One recent example I could think of is when the water container used for cleaning the bathroom suddenly had a small hole in it. Going to the hardware shop was not an option at that time because when I come back the water should be all gone since the hole was at the bottom of the container. What I did was take the ink container of an old ball pen and wrapped in around in a small piece of cloth. I slowly inserted it through the hole clogging the opening. To reinforce the clog against the power of the water, I took a 2 liter filled container and had the end of the ink pen push against it. That did the trick.
No matter how small the deed was it would still qualify as a creative work. Major creativity on the other hand result in extraordinary output; but that doesn’t come easily. Or rather high levels of creativity started somewhere — ground zero.
What is creativity?
Based on what we had discussed creativity is not only for artist and the like. It is not having a brush on one hand and paint on the other brushing up abstract well drawn paintings. Creativity is about improvement. It is being able to do things better than the last one we did.
Where do you use creativity?
This is a powerful skill that can be used anywhere and anytime. From budgeting, cleaning the laundry, courting a girl, and even in daily expenses. I could remember back in college when I did not have money to buy a full meal which cost around 88 cents (converted from Philippine Peso), I would instead buy a burger patty from the burger stand which only cost me 15 cents and have the canteen personnel flood it with free gravy. Plus two cups of rice then I just spent 40 cents on what seemed to be a burger steak meal already. Simply put, creativity can be used from the time we wake up until we sleep at night.
How do you strengthen creativity?
Practice it as much as you can and you will be amazed on how creative you can become. The most successful people in the world are those that are creative enough to find the right job, blend with the people and climb up the ladder of success. Creativity is not all I.Q. The highest and top students in class back in high school and college are doing just fine in their careers right now and by no means does it show any indication of successful careers ahead of them. What’s most disappointing is that they allowed themselves to work in a job that would not allow them to reach their potential, does not have any potential growth, and would not give them the opportunity to excel. Talking to them, I found not that did not have enough creative juices flowing to get themselves in the right job with a bright future ahead of them.
What hinders us from developing our creativity?
Failure. Rejection. Embarrassment. These are some of the things that could slow the development of a person’s creativity. We should not allow failure, rejection, embarrassment, etc. from believing in our ideas, actions and outlook. When people does not accept our recommendations then try to reflect whether there is something you can do to improve it on. Or if you feel that is the best idea already then defend it. If it still doesn’t get accepted then try other ways. Just don’t allow yourself to stop improvement and giving out ideas because of some people rejecting them.
One thing I learned all these years is that rejection would actually do you more good than bad. First is that by being rejected some people’s idea gets implemented and we get to learn a whole lot more. We learned something out of the idea we generated as well as the idea of the other person. You end up getting two or even more ideas than the original one you have.
How to come up with creative solutions?
Analyze the problem at hand and do as much research as necessary. Don’t think that a certain solution is the final answer to the problem. Often times, there are several approaches to the problem. Unless an answer is immediately needed, try to sit on a certain solution for sometime and ask other people’s opinion.
What if I can’t come up with a solution?
There are some complex problems that donâ€™t have solutions right away. Often what I do is to get some sleep, or get some fresh air by watching a movie, engaging in sports activities and come back and think of the solution. You will be surprised at times that the answer pops out of nowhere. Sometimes our brains get in a certain loop that will continually look at the problem on a certain pattern which disables our ability to find answers.
How to strengthen a solution?
Do not spread yourself thin across different problems. Focus on the problem at hand, the solution you came up with and focus all your energies in determining if there is a better solution for it. Do not allow yourself to fall into a trap of thinking about a lot of things at the same time. This will only get you into producing poor quality and results. My mother used to tell me — Be a master of one; and not a person who is a jack of all trades. This can also be applied in daily activities. Think of the problem as something you will masterfully solve.
Your organization skills are very important. You should be organized enough to come up with a systematic approach in solving a problem. The more organized you are the clearer your thoughts become. The clearer your thoughts, the better solutions you can think of.
Important pointers to unleash your creativity.
1. Attitude. No matter what happens remain strong and keep on coming back. There are no mistakes in life, only lessons to be learned. Be positive and cheer up. See failures as challenging tasks and not as an excuse to stop trying.
2. Simplify. Try to see things as simple as possible. The more complex you get to see things the harder they become. One of my former bosses had an extremely complex mind. My colleagues where astonished how complex he could think. One thing I noticed is that his complex mind actually makes him fail more times than succeed. By making things look too complex they become harder to implement and decisions become a drag. In this fast paced world, the more simplified things are the faster decision could be made. The faster decisions are made the higher chance you get to beat your competitors.
3. Drilling down. Keep on asking questions on a certain problem. Often times, the first question to a problem would not give you the root cause of why it happened. It usually takes a series questions drilling down to what was the real cause. Take this problem —
A project was delayed on schedule and the manager concluded that it’s because the staff was not working hard. But why was the staff not working hard? Tired. If he is tired then why? He overworked in the first few months of the project. Why did he overwork himself? There were not enough people on the project. Why were there not enough people? Wrong estimation. Why wrong estimation?
Get the point? By asking questions we get to pin point the real cause of the problem and we get to come up with the best solution.
4. Know your limitations. Knowing your limitations should make you aware and help you get the trainings you need in order to strengthen them. You may also channel your energies on things that will utilize your strengths.
5. Come up with a number of solutions. Validate your multiple approaches with other people on what they think is best. Now ask yourself if the solution is the best one under the current circumstance.
6. Know the Risk. Is it going to be the end of the world if the solution fails? Or would it leave irreparable damages if things donâ€™t work out?
7. Checkpoints. By establishing checkpoint you get to see if you are still headed in the right direction. This will allow you to assess whether certain solutions are more applicable to the one you are currently implementing.
8. Ownership. Own the solution no matter what happens. If all else fails, take full responsibility and be ready to accept the consequences of your actions.
9. Milestones. Setting milestones and dates for which you need to accomplish and reach them will help you become more aware on correctness of the solution. This will also help you to implement and constantly analyze the effectiveness of the solution.
10. Walk the talk. Just do it.
Get things done. Ideas remain ideas until they become a reality and helps people. Work hard at implementing them one at a time. At a certain point, you need to decide among all the ideas you have and ensure that it gets implemented.
The world is not enough for creative thinkers and finishers.
People get absorbed in work and before they realize their current situation…