7 easy steps towards becoming more creative
Ever wonder how those marketing geniuses come up with incredibly creative ideas? Well now you can too can be creative just by continually giving your brain hardware upgrades. Not a techie? No worries – below are my 7 easy steps towards becoming more creative:
1. Go against the flow.
Don’t do what everyone else is doing. In fact, try doing the opposite. Challenge assumptions. When they zig you zag so to speak. Be a contrarian. Be counter-intuitive.
Take a different route to work, instead of putting on your left sock first, put your right sock on. Hold your phone in your left hand when you’re chatting in that restaurant. Have cereal for dinner and pasta for breakfast. And don’t forget to smile while you’re talking because a happy mind is a creative mind. Force your mind to do the unordinary and it will become extraordinary.
2. Chatter incessantly.
The more you talk, the more you expose yourself to opportunities to have a conversation with someone. And if you tie this in to point #1 above, even better. Just be careful that you’re not always talking to yourself. The barista at your local Starbucks, the cab driver driving you to your innovation seminar, the math teacher at your child’s school, the annoyed and tired looking gentleman on that transatlantic flight can all help with your verbal rapid prototyping efforts. Someone might even give you an insight that later could lead you to step out of your bathtub and run naked in the streets shouting Eureka! Warning…do not try this in the winter and check with municipal by-laws before opening that door! Or maybe not.
3. Consume text like Kwame Kilpatrick.
Read often and as much as possible. It can be Twitter posts, blogs like this one, articles, novels, textbooks, StumbleUpon, tradeshow displays, your competitor’s web content, press releases, news related to a totally unrelated industry or the nutrition label on your favourite cereal box. The point is, the more you read, the more you are able to make connections between seemingly unrelated concepts. I think that’s what brought the mayor of Detroit and Christine Beatty closer together.
4. Carry a pen and notebook.
My friend Gabriella Pacione of Concept Genesis, a creative consultancy based in Canada, recommends that we all carry a pen and notebook to capture flashes of brilliance that often get lost as we do the more mundane things in our lives like breathing regularly. She says you can’t discount the visual aspect of creativity. If you scoff at this idea because you’re a digital maven, I humbly suggest that you do what I do. Use your Blackberry as a voice recorder or key-in your thoughts and email them to yourself. Best email you will get all day and no spam – guaranteed!
As mentioned above, the visual aspect of creativity cannot be ignored. Drawing, doodling or sketching out ideas will not only entertain your spouse or Wacom-enabled kids it will give you another way of looking at things. Making unique connections is what it is all about.
6. Wake up and smell the coffee.
Better yet, try some Green Tea to get the antioxidant benefits as well. Stimulating your senses is important to open up your mind to possibilities. This includes the sense of smell. You may remember or hopefully still play the smell game. This is where you blindfold someone and place a series of items under their nose. They have to identify what it was based on the smell. Or, to be more PC I guess I should say scent. It’s very hard to identify what the item is without seeing it as we require both sides of our brain to identify and then articulate what that smell is. Struggle and you build up those connections over time.
7. Look around and be inspired.
There are numerous stories about people getting inspiration from merely observing. Richard Feynman, joint recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on quantum electrodynamics is said to have been in the cafeteria at Cornell when he saw something that helped him solve an equation that ultimately led to his Nobel Prize. A student was spinning a plate and as it wobbled, Feynman noticed that the red medallion of Cornell spun around at a different rate than the wobble. For “fun”, he calculated the relationship between the wobble and the spin of the plate (2:1). However it also led him to look at the problem about the spin of electrons differently. Solving that led to the prize!
Post your ideas here!