I recently attended Sally Martin’s Art exhibition and was prompted to write about the importance of thinking creatively. While you might be thinking that creative thinking is not required in your roll, or you just can’t be creative; I would like to suggest that it is both imperative that we all think creatively, and that anyone with a little bit of empathy can do it.
While there are some roles and industries that are more in tune with their creative talents, there are ways for all of us to also think more creatively.
There is an urgent need for Organisations to inspire and encourage people to think creatively. Even small organisation can take quantum leaps forward if they feel they can inspire their people to think creatively.
As the saying goes, there are only three certainties in life: death, taxes and change. Machines are now increasingly undertaking tasks that were traditionally performed by people such as; 3D printing of houses. For some of you, you may be concerned about your future; however, some may be inspired by the possibilities. Change is happening, weather you like it or not. You can either pretend its not happening, get angry about the change or you can master the ability to think creatively. Doing anything but the later would be like trying to hold back the incoming tide with a broom.
Anyone can think creatively, they just have have empathy towards others. Osho coined it beautifully when he said: “To be creative means to be in love with life”.
Here is a simple six-step process that would help you think creatively:
Step 1: Write a list of the services you provide to a client (be it internal or external clients or people in the industry)
Step 2: Set up an interview with your clients and ask them the following questions:
- From the list above which is the most important to the least important?
- What aspect of the list frustrates them?
- How do these tasks/activities effect them?
- What do you needs in regards to these tasks on the list and how well are they fulfilled?
“I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.” ― Ernest Hemingway
Step 3: Step into your client’s shoes. Write an endless list of solutions to meet your client’s frustrations, fears, needs and wants. Don’t worry about how practical these ideas are, just get them down on paper (or computer if you prefer).
Step 4: Ask yourself which solution you would have the most benefit? Don’t limit yourself by considering what you think you can do.
“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” ― Sylvia Plath,
Step 5: Test and adjust your ideas. Go back to your sources and check that the ideas would be of benefit.
Step 6: Take the best ideas and establish a Goal and an Action plan to develop your ideas. This takes courage! You don’t need to be able to do everything. Identify the bits you can do and outsource the rest. Craft your vision for this new idea and sell it to your boss or other members of your team.
If you applied the six steps listed above, you would have hundreds of opportunities to make changes. Just consider how many opportunities you could uncover if you didn’t limit yourself to your own tasks. Just consider asking anyone about what they do and what frustrates them and you will be stepping into limitless possibilities.
I also realized two enemies to creativity: the enemy within and the enemy you associate with. Henry Buckle coined it beautifully when he said “Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.” Be well aware of the company you keep and associate with other “great minds” who discuss ideas, and won’t criticize you for stepping outside of your comfort zone, questioning your status quo and trying to make a difference. Remember, the opposite of courage is not the lack of courage, its conformity. There is a real risk at this point that we attach self-worth to the acceptance of our idea. As Bene Brown stressed, that if we attach our self-worth to the acceptance of our creativity we become a prisoner of “pleasing, performing and perfecting”. It may be disappointing if your friends and colleagues do not share your vision and your creative idea, but remember, “effort is about what you do, not who you are”.
However, the greatest enemy to our creativity is the enemy within. It is our internal critic and there can be no greater threat. Many creative geniuses have modified their ideas so as not to be perceived as too radical. Being creative requires us to be vulnerable, and for many of us (including myself) this can be hard, but I dispute that it is not impossible. Jim Rohn once said, “Standby the gates to your mind”. We have an ability to think what ever we like, if the thoughts are not supporting your creativity, change it to something that will.
If you can dream, you can create, and your creativity can make a real difference. Take a moment out of your time to try out the six steps to thinking creatively and see what you can come up with. Encourage your team to think creatively, this can lead to empowerment and craft people who are excited about opportunities and making a difference.