Part 2: How to become a creative thinker
In part one we discussed creativity as a concept and why it is vital for businesses to be creative. This time, we’ll explore the 5 elements of creativity and will give you 4 simple exercises that will allow you to think more creatively.
How can you become more creative?
Creativity can be broken down into 5 elements:
This is the practice of connecting the dots between seemingly unrelated ideas. It’s the art of pulling inspiration and insight from one area and applying it to something completely different.
Curiosity is a deeply ingrained tenant in all creative professions. Highly creative and innovative individuals are always asking for the whys and whats, they rarely accept the world as it is.
In her book Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes, Maria Konnikova emphasizes the importance of observing our surroundings on a deeper level.
This isn’t just about expanding your LinkedIn connections or the rolodex of business cards on your desk. Networking involves expanding your bubble to involve individuals and ideas from all walks of life. Creative individuals don’t stick to just their area of expertise. They’re constantly trying new things.
In order to drum up unique ideas, you have to venture outside of your comfort zone and experiment with new ideas and ways of working. Google pioneered a concept of “80/20 time” that allowed engineers to tinker for 20% of their work time. The concept has since spread to other companies like LinkedIn and Apple. These companies understand that creativity doesn’t just happen. It takes work.
- Be distracted often
When we’re distracted, we’re not thinking about a solution to a particular problem or wondering what our next great article idea could be. A distraction may provide the break you need to disengage from a fixation on the ineffective solution.
Focusing too intently on a problem basically uses up all of your cognitive resources. When you step back and do something mundane or repetitive you lighten your cognitive load which can help you find the solution you were looking for in the first place. You have to give your brain the space to be creative.
- Change your environment
Getting out of your normal environment could be just the thing you need to spark your creative thinking. Research on living abroad demonstrated that immersing yourself in a different culture can make you more creative. Why is that? It could be due to the way the brain must adapt to living in a totally different country. Your brain is forced to make new connections and see things from a different perspective which can enhance creativity.
- Adjust your schedule
You don’t have to switch your entire schedule around to force yourself into being a night owl or rising at the crack of dawn. But, occasionally breaking out of your routine might just be the switch you need to set your mind buzzing with a handful of great ideas.
- Become a beginner
In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few
— Zen Master Shunryo Suzuki
If you’ve been practicing your craft for any length of time, you probably wouldn’t consider yourself a beginner. Beginners lack understanding, they don’t know exactly what they’re doing or what they’re truly capable of. This type of mindset, however, may be exactly what you need.