3 Tips to Quickly Spark CreativityMar 13, 2021
First, let’s bust up some common myths about creativity.
THE MOST COMMON MYTH
An entire generation of people have grown up believing they weren’t creative because someone told them they weren’t good at art. Until recently, the standard definition of creativity was narrow. You were either creative or you weren’t. The perception was that creative people are artistic, or more precisely, good at drawing.
It was natural to fall into one of two camps—logic and science, or creativity and the arts. Our education system, often coupled with parental expectation, encouraged people to place themselves in one category or the other.
This kind of thinking may be the reason you’re having trouble tapping into your creative genius.
Creativity Eliminates Boredom and Disciplinary Problems in the Classroom
During the years I was a substitute teacher, or as I like to say, a guest teacher, I carried a briefcase filled with creative ideas for when the teacher didn’t leave an adequate set of lesson plans or left a pile of boring “sorry I couldn’t be with you today” worksheets to pass out.
As the guest teacher, I found the most effective means to combat not only boredom but also to prevent disciplinary problems was to make sure students participated. As you can imagine, that required a good bit of creativity.
Let me share one quick example that worked for me, even with grumpy high school students this was 100% effective. A riddle usually gets everyone’s attention. Mine was, can you guess my dog’s name?
Each student received three slips of papers to write down their guesses. Verbal guesses were not allowed. They had to hand their guesses to me.
“Did I get it right,” they’d ask, looking for a reaction.
“Good guess, but no. You still have two more guesses. Keep trying,” I’d tell them.
First guesses were usually the same—apple. Nope, not it.
The big secret to successful substitute teaching after being prepared with creative lessons, of course, is making eye contact. It felt a bit tricky but it worked for me. EYE CONTACT equaled CONNECTION, and connection led to acceptance, which opened the door to an educational experience.
THE OTHER BIG MYTH
Creativity is not a rational process. The rational side of your brain gives your mind fresh information with the intention of possibly creating new ideas. However, creativity only comes through action—never by waiting for something to come to you.
Sometimes the flow of ideas comes naturally, but there are also times when you cannot awaken this state of mind no matter how hard you try. It’s as if you have the capacity to be creative but your brain goes on strike. Don’t worry. You can find a way to get out of that state. You just have to think like a child.
Children think creatively all the time. Is it because they are creative or because they are connected to their creativity? I believe it is because they are connected to their creative genius. For example, give a kid a piece of wood and they will invent a game with it, turn it into a magic sword, fashion a starting line for a race, and so on.
Granted, children are unencumbered by the numerous concerns that come with being an adult, and that’s the secret to unleashing your creative genius. Don’t be afraid to be childlike in your thoughts. Give yourself permission to play.
RESOURCE: Read an article about Playing: Ten Ways Adults Can Be More Playful
TIP NUMBER ONE – Think Humorous Thoughts
Humor is closely linked with creativity because it is based on connecting the sensible with the absurd, which in turn creates unexpected new thoughts and ideas. Humor requires the brain to think differently. Hidden meanings, unexpected associations, and absurd links, shifting the mind so it can uncover unique viewpoints.
Thinking humorously allow us to approach an issue from a different viewpoint by combining information, insights, and perspectives that are already available but may not have been aligned. The good news is humor is a skill that can be learned.
RESOURCE: Mark Brown and Darrin LaCroix’s Unforgettable Presentations podcast episodes 73 and 78.
RESOURCE: Drybar Comedy Channel on Youtube. No profanity, which I love!
TIP NUMBER TWO – Stop Being Predictable
Your environment affects the way you think. With that in mind, try personalizing a work space to help shift you into creative mode. Surround yourself with items that stimulate, or better yet, remove items that prevent your muse from showing up.
You’ll never have creative ideas if you only do what you’ve always done. Take a break from the usual and purposely insert yourself into an unusual setting. Do something you wouldn’t normally do.
Take a longer than usual walk, or better yet, take a day trip to a new place. Try an ethic restaurant. Check out a thrift or antique store. Find an oddball bookstore or coffee shop to visit. Listen to a podcast. Hang out with a new group of people.
There are many ways to jumpstart creativity. Look for activities or exercises that appeal to you.
RESOURCE: Warm Up Exercises
TIP NUMBER THREE – Exercise Mindfulness
It may sound unoriginal, but being mindful means being in tune with what’s happening in the moment. It takes practice to tune out the usual distractions and start asking questions such as “What if…?”
This kind of brainstorming will lead to unexpected possibilities and unleash your creative genius. But you’ve got to pay attention to the details so you can see unexpected combinations.
You might want to carry a moleskin notebook to capture interesting tidbits of conversation or ideas that pop into your head. Innovative thoughts have a tendency to evaporate even after you told yourself that you would never ever forget those wonderful nuggets.
Smartphones are the more modern way to capture ideas before they fade away. Make a recording. Take a photo. Make it impossible to lose something wonderful.
During a brainstorming session, thoughts may show up that don’t seem relevant. Write them down anyway. Even if ideas seem useless, you can still rework them into something wonderful down the road.
The key to creativity is in connecting the dots. Like everything else, being creative is a matter of practice and intention.
RESOURCE: Read the article here: Mind Mapping