A common misconception about creativity is that it’s a natural born talent. And while many believe that creativity is a momentary “strike of lightning” – it’s actually just a process. Quick-witted individuals are simply quick-witted because they’re constantly thinking rapidly and processing, refining, re-defining and challenging their original ideas.
In short, creativity is really about problem solving – and just like Algebra or Geometry, it can be learned and refined with practice.
So how do you develop your creative skills?
1. Use “Time Boxes” in your brainstorming meeting. Give yourself a time restraint to come up with your ideas. For example – limit yourself to come up with as many ideas (good and bad) as you can in 3 minutes. This type of competitive challenge urges you to think on your toes. Time restraints and the pressure to perform actually help us – and – our natural desire to compete tends to pull out the best results.
2. Choose to be motivated. Don’t wait until the last minute to begin a project. Begin early and give yourself time to work through the creative process. Then, start over from the beginning. Allow yourself to work through the process again. This typically results in new, and even better ideas.
3. Push through those first, obvious ideas. During the creative brainstorming process, we tend to begin and end on high notes, but midway through there is a drop in “good” ideas (the thoughts here may seem completely absurd). After this mid-point, there is a turning point. That completely absurd idea is likely to trigger a really good idea
4. Flip the paradigm. We tend to move from relevance (what’s appropriate/accepted/safe) to novelty (what’s original, new, fresh). We need to break this model and work backwards. Try to start with novelty and work back into relevancy. The faster you work through absurdity – the faster you get to Novelty.
Remember, with just a few simple steps, everyone can be creative:
1. Get Absurd! (Work through the “Lull” Zone.)
2. Use a Shotgun Approach to See Where Ideas Lead You.
3. Can the Critic! (Don’t worry about looking silly/dumb.)
4. Explore Where Those Weird Ideas Can Take You.
5. Get Excited About Starting Over.
6. Love the Process.