“I’m not a creative type person" is a phrase I used too often.
Maybe because I thought being logical or strategic and being creative were mutually exclusive. And that you had to be born with it … nothing could be further from the truth. Like most things, you can cultivate and harness creativity
In John Maxwell’s book ‘How successful people think’ he describes creative thinking as a composite of thoughts discovered along the way. A logical combination of existing elements that could result in a new concept. Mind you these don’t have to be your 'original' (this is in quotes because most ideas are connected to others) thoughts or ideas. Tim Hansen describes creativity as the ability to make connections and associations, turn things around and express them in a new way. I see it this way, when you come up with the stop gap for your leaky faucet pending when the plumber comes, or break down a concept or situation at work in a way that your colleague gets a clearer picture or decide to take another route to work because someone told you about a traffic pattern – you are being creative.
We are ALL creative people and do it each day, some people however appear to have it in abundance and come up with genius innovations that make us think creativity is a special ‘trait’. What they did was to harness their creativity and turn it into value for them and their community.
Below are some of the things I learnt about harnessing your creativity in the book referenced above;
Practice thinking and connecting ideas – John Maxwell describes it this way, Think, then find materials related to the thought, then think about what can make the ideas better, then organize in the right context to make it complete and powerful. Easy right? Not. But like your muscles, the more you engage in creative activity, the more creative you become. Be intentional about it observing when you are doing it and practice the above.
Stimulate creativity by asking questions – The right questions like, why must it be done this way? What are the underlying issues? What does this remind me of? What can I use to explain it? Why is it important? Who has a different perspective on it? Why must we do it? What happens if we don’t do it? opens your mind to think about things differently and thinking is the base of creativity. There’s an Igbo proverb that goes this way ‘the questioner never loses his way’, so ask away! But practice asking the right questions.
Get out of your box – Expand your horizon. Don’t do things the way you have always done them. Travel. Read. Be curious. Find out how and why others do what they do. Seek out and learn about things completely outside your wheel house and interest – it doesn’t have to be big, it just needs to be different. When you do these, you expose yourself to new paradigms, you get more chances to practice connecting ideas, asking the right questions and build your creativity muscles.
So the next time you figure out how to wash the dishes a little faster or set up your work space in a way that helps you work efficiently or recycle that old box as the perfect container for something ..… remind yourself that you are being creative and practice harnessing that power and build your creativity to increase your capabilities!
"You cant use up creativity, the more you use, the more you have” – Maya Angelou