I’m amazed how many leaders I encounter who say, “I’m not creative.” When I hear this, it actually energizes me, because EVERY human being on the planet has the seeds of creativity within them. After studying and practicing the disciplines of creativity for over 30 years, I’ve concluded that the realization of this untapped potential is only three steps away.
I’ll start with a clarification of terms. When some people say they’re not creative, what they are really saying is that they are not ARTISTIC. If this is what they mean, many of these people are correct. I believe there are billions of people who could legitimately say they are not artistic. But creativity is different.
Creativity is the ability to generate alternatives. This is a basic human capability hard-wired into each of our brains! Unfortunately, many of us have this “feature” of our brain disabled. There are three things we can do to enable this function and unleash the countless ideas.
Expand Your World – We cannot create from nothing – only God can do that. However, we can create from our reservoir of knowledge and experiences. The example I often use to illustrate this is the artist’s palette. An artist cannot paint with paint that is still in the tube – it must first be placed on the palette. Our lives are the palette, and our opportunity is to create a masterpiece. Every encounter, every experience, every relationship is paint on our palette. My fear is that too many leaders have chosen to live in a small world. I will not. I want to paint from a full palette!
Train Your Brain – There are scores of techniques/skills that can be learned to help our brains generate ideas. These are neither complicated nor elaborate, but they must be learned. Examples include things as common as brainstorming and stimulating questions. The techniques are simple. The trick is to become proficient determining which ones will work best in which situation and to become skilled at utilizing them. This is where step three comes in.
Invest the Time – To become more creative requires time. It's that simple. A time on task analysis would reveal that for most people, time is the key variable that determines their level of creativity. If you want to be more creative, how should you invest your time? Primarily in three ways:
Time expanding your world – going places, reading widely, meeting people, etc. These type activities require time.
Time learning and practicing the skills – like any skill, competency comes with practice and practice requires time.
Time actually generating ideas – Most leaders really do want more and better ideas, but rarely do we invest the necessary time to discover the breakthrough ideas. The great ideas are most often like rare gems – you’ve got to move a lot of dirt to find them.
More on the topic of creativity in future posts…[GLS_Shield]