Calvin said to Hobbes, “You can’t just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood.” And most of us echo the same sentiment. We wait for the right time, the right place, and even search for the right tools that’ll help us be creative. Yet, creativity eludes us.
But, thankfully, it is a skill we can develop. Creativity isn’t only for the chosen few. Here are things you can do, which will help you nurture your creative quotient:
Follow your curiosity. Call it a thirst for knowledge or an inquiring mind, our curiosity directly impacts our ability to be creative. In fact, a particular flavor of curiosity, the general one, helps us most. “This form of curiosity is associated with seeking out many different varieties of novel information. It can be seen as emphasizing breadth rather than depth of exploration.” This helps form quick connections when it comes to solution finding.
It is the breadth and expanse of what we know, that prompts our brain to make the most unique connections between pieces of information. And that’s what creativity is – finding novel ideas. So, if something tickles your brain, spend a moment with it – an article, a video, or a person. Don’t look for the explicit purpose. If it interests you, pay attention, and build that rich mental database.
Step away from the problem. “Sleep on it.” This is the most common advice we receive, which prompts us to step away from the problem. But our brain continues to process the information in the background and make the connections we spoke of above. This leads to improved decision making. Even if it’s only a 5 mins break that we take from the problem. But, before doing this, define your problem as accurately as possible. Else your brain will be lost!
Get uncomfortable. This is an exercise in psychological flexibility and seeking diversity of thought. Humans are wired to seek familiarity. But, by talking to people whom we would not get along with, we expand our mind to understand other perspectives, and build empathy. In other words, we learn to see a problem from multiple viewpoints.
Says bestselling author Joseph Grenny, “The most unexpectedly fruitful conversations of my life were with a racist cabby in London, a drug dealer seatmate on a plane, and an extremist political advocate in Puerto Rico. While I didn’t change teams, I gained valuable perspectives from lives I will never live.”
Creativity can be built, but you have to work for it. Practices like these give your mind that much-needed workout and help strengthen the creative muscle. Are you willing to try?