Post No.: 0445
Some people think that they can only be creative in the mornings, after they’ve drank a few beers, a few coffees, if it’s quiet, if it’s noisy, or some other ‘perfect conditions’ – but I believe this mindset is limiting. You should believe that you can be creative wherever you happen to be and whatever’s happening. To doubt that you can be creative unless everything is personally perfect for you is to constrain your opportunities for creativity. It can become self-fulfilling as you shut your moments of inspiration and creativity down to very narrow spaces and moments, which will limit what you could create itself. Understand and believe that creativity is boundless and so can pop up at any time and in any place. Woof!
One could selectively cherry-pick a few examples of people who claimed to have boosted their creativity by taking psychoactive drugs, such as psychedelics – but there are many, many thousands more people who have taken these drugs and did not as a result become famous artists or writers (some even lost touch with reality in a bad way); plus there are many, many thousands of people who have not depended on such drugs and did become, not just some of the most famous artists or writers of all, but also scientists and successful businesspeople too. I’m not saying that creativity cannot arise from psychoactive substance experiences but they aren’t necessary if one simply sees every situation one encounters as a potential opportunity for gathering inspiration, like a child who inquires and observes every detail of the world with awe and imagination.
Experiences and events are often neither inherently good nor bad, right nor wrong, etc.. It’s not the experience that determines who you are – it is your interpretation of it that matters. You do not see things as they are but see them as you are. That gives it meaning, and we are all individual so can choose to interpret our experiences in any way we wish. These interpretations in turn shape our beliefs and perceptions, and these in turn determine how we interpret the world to confirm our beliefs to stronger reinforce them while ignoring what doesn’t fit. In the context of creativity – it’s all a matter of what perspective you choose to take.
Therefore believe that you are creative and don’t fear the crazy thoughts. There is a fine line between genius and insanity after all! And the ‘insane’ are often just unproven geniuses. (Albeit if you believe that you are a genius then it’s down to you to convince others that you are – see Post No.: 0348 for more about the subject of genius.)
See evidence of, or potential for, your own creativity everywhere and find creativity in everything you come across. Choose to be positive, choose to be inspired, choose to be creative and choose to be happy :D.
Many whose careers depend upon creativity worry about dreaded creative blocks, such as ‘writer’s block’ for writers. But repeat after me…
I have positivity and resolute worth.
I am a free ‘subject’ and not a chained ‘object’.
I believe that I am creative and possess inspiration and purpose.
I have a dogged can-do attitude, nothing can stop me. Where there is a will, there is a way.
I am open-minded and believe that anything is possible.
I am in control of my own destiny. Fear and doubt only drives me to succeed even more. Only I know myself enough to judge me.
I can recall my good qualities and my achievements so far. I have proven throughout my life that I am capable.
I think victorious furry thoughts!..
A separate yet also recurring barrier when it comes to creativity is that most people say that they value creativity yet implicit bias tests show that most people are unconsciously very resistant and aversive to change. The problem is not usually with coming up with new ideas or solutions but our risk-aversion to recognising them and taking them on.
When faced with other people’s ideas, people also tend to suffer from a ‘not invented here syndrome’ – as if other people’s ideas or creations aren’t, or aren’t going to be, as good as one’s own. Some are worried about others stealing their creative ideas too, but chances are that most other people aren’t bothered about them because of the above ‘syndrome’ i.e. they’re not likely going to rate it highly because they didn’t come up with the idea themselves. (Although I guess there is a chance the idea is undeniably amazing and worth stealing. Having said that though, most people tend to overrate their own ideas!)
Some people don’t like giving credit to others (especially to ‘outsiders’), to their own detriment. Many leaders pride themselves on the knowledge of their own businesses and their own expertise, but this very insular and inertial attitude can blind them from the potential of something truly innovative.
Most people are also more concerned about uncertainty and in being right, and will pick apart creative ideas to try to find flaws in them to protect themselves from the discomfort of not knowing whether or not they’ll work if they gave them a chance i.e. they’ll bias towards looking for reasons not to try something in case it fails and they’ll be blamed for backing it. They’ll form their conclusion first (they want to reject the idea) and then look for reasons to confirm that conclusion (search for reasons to reject the idea). We therefore need to check our egos, be more fair, more open-minded and also look for reasons to try something – we should be more curious, open to uncertainty and willing to imagine the potential benefits of an idea too, whoever came up with it.
Leaders should prime themselves to think more like inventors who are leading the creative process, and not like people who think they already know the answers. We should not only ask other people to brainstorm ideas but get them involved to evaluate them too. Without soliciting more input from others – leaders and managers are bound to fall into familiar patterns, into thinking ‘this is the way we’ve always done it before’, and thus stifling creativity and progress.
Meanwhile, those pitching ideas should tap into the emotions of decision-makers rather than merely recite facts and figures – create excitement by telling stories or using powerful analogies to get your points across, and create an ‘aha’ feeling in the minds of the stakeholders.
Creativity is not only down to the innate characteristics of each individual person but down to the environments they’re in. Both productivity and creativity are optimised when people feel like they’re making progress in work that’s meaningful to them. So at the workplace, provide whatever you can to ensure that progress is not hindered (e.g. offer enough support, resources and time), and share why the work matters.
Extrinsic motivators generally hinder our creativity (e.g. incentives or rewards, competition, surveillance or being watched over, expected harsh critiques). However, unexpected rewards can boost it if they support our engagement in tasks that we’re already highly intrinsically motivated to do. So support the intrinsic motivation to explore and create rather than crowd-out that motivation through extrinsic lures or rewards and threats or punishments.
Create an environment that’s intellectually challenging and stimulating, and explicitly encourage innovative thinking. Group members who are trusting, supportive and receptive to new ideas, at the same time as are willing to challenge each other’s ideas, are best. Supervisors need to be supportive, set clear goals, give enough degrees of freedom to achieve these goals, communicate with clarity and honesty, value individual contributions to team projects, and encourage the learning from failures or picking oneself up from the inevitable setbacks along the way to keep people moving forwards. Creativity has got to be interwoven into the culture of an organisation, such as with the free flow of ideas even between different departments and a system for putting forwards and trialling new ideas.
It might work, or might not work, for you to allow your employees or students to spend a portion (e.g. 20% or 1 hour/week) of their work or school time on other projects they choose and should therefore find personally meaningful, whether it’s creative or for personal development – critics argue that this doesn’t quite work in practice for it takes time away from other, core, projects or it ends up being an extra burden, but its supporters argue that it’s the idea of it that’s important.
Woof. If you can identity any other common barriers to creativity then please reply to the tweet linked to the Twitter comment button below this post and tell us about them, and maybe how they could be overcome too. Thanks.