Buzz phrases like “thinking outside the box,” “paradigm shifting” or “find a new perspective” can be categorized as creative thinking. I used to think that creative was not a word that applied to me. I don’t paint, sing, sculpt or even mime. So I would have scored myself pretty low on creativity, and frankly, it wouldn’t have concerned me too much.
But not thinking creatively? That’s bad news. In this economy (and actually in any economy), we need people who can operate outside of expected parameters. Even Albert Einstein was on the creativity bandwagon. He referred to it as “daring speculation.”
Successful companies know that their products and their customer service can’t just be good. Every interaction is an opportunity to delight and surprise – and that takes constant inventiveness.
So, if you think you’re creativity impaired, what do you do?
Spend time cultivating creativity. Rather than a useless indulgence, this is time well-spent. Some focused effort – even just a few minutes a day- can boost your imagination.
Budget thinking time. One of the most helpful ways to foster inspiration is to think. This may sound obvious, but we can get so caught up in doing that we forget about thinking. Give yourself 15 minutes of just pondering (not multi-tasking); your insights may surprise you.
Read around. Don’t limit your reading to industry-specific books and periodicals. Read stuff that has no direct connection with your work. Originality comes when you’re exposed to a wide variety of ideas.
Examine your assumptions. Scrutinize the things you feel strongly about. Suspend your perceptions and beliefs and play around with alternative hypotheses. You may not change your mind, but you will probably open it a bit. And you’ll exercise your brain, making it fluid and nimble enough to tackle the next challenge.
Write it down. Even if you don’t keep a full-flung journal, keep track of your ideas – in a small notebook, your i-phone or other mobile device. What may seem like a mundane thought today could be a breakthrough tomorrow.
You may not be a budding artist, but you can find ways to break out of your established patterns and become more innovative. Being more creative can pay off for your career – and enrich the rest of your life too.
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