As a blogger, I’d like to think that I’m a creative person. I’ve loved to read and make up stories of my own since I was a child – and always had a wide imagination. I’m not really an analytic person and while I can navigate around numbers, I’ve always found more ease reading chapters of a novel versus cracking a tough algebra problem. I’m taking a two-day course at work titled Creativity and Innovation where we’re learning to think more creatively as individuals, as well as blossom in group settings that might not be as creative-friendly. I’m taking this class to learn how to take all of my wild ideas and generate them into an outcome. I blame my ideas and lack of follow-through on that Gemini-spirit, but sometimes I really just do get caught up in what I think it’s a cool idea and later abandon it because I become bored and the idea never comes to fruition.
Some of the concepts I’m learning through the class are quite interesting. And so far, we’ve built a casing for a light bulb using some rudimentary tools, created a new candy bar concept and analyzed some words of wisdom from great leaders of companies. One of the concepts that really resonated with me is using the word “and” in place of “but.” As in, “I love your idea, but it doesn’t really follow the guidelines I was looking for.” We have all heard that when you say “but” to someone, that usually signals that you’re dismissing their idea for an idea of your own. It can be rude, it can disarm the person and if you’re shooting someone down you could stunt their creativity. It’s been my experience sometimes that we use “but” because it’s natural, and we may really want to include their idea and actually add to it and know no other better way to rephrase it. You could actually mean, “I really like your idea, but I think if you expanded on xyz it may make it more impactful.” By replacing that “but” with and, you’re actually including that idea and signaling to the person that you’re engaged, interested and genuine in your feelings. “I really like that idea and by adding xyz it would make it a more impactful project.” See? Doesn’t that sound better?
Something else I learned was not to get caught in the “hairball” of a group. A hairball occurs when everyone’s ideas are so entangled with each other that there’s no productivity in a group. If you stay outside of the hairball and “orbit” the group – you have an opportunity to gain insights but are more apt to take risks as you’re not tied down to the group’s central focus or effort which can increase creativity on a project. Obviously there’s risk associated with that stance, but if you’re looking to purely work on a team that generates creative ideas – you have to be willing to take those risks.
I think overall when you’re working either solo or in a team environment, you have to be willing to be open-minded, understand that you’ll make mistakes but don’t let that hinder your process or growth. The most creative and innovative in the people have been told “no” before and still moved on to build successful careers and reputations (ie. Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs). You have to be willing to see what “greatness” you have inside of you and really build on that and try not to be your own worst enemy by creating self-doubt.
One of the scariest things for me in this blog is really opening myself up so that people I know in real life – that I’m related to even, know what I think about something or read about my adventures. It’s unnerving to be on a small stage and open yourself up like that. But if you have positive intent, and it’s something that makes you happy – you have to take that leap.
What tools do you use to think creatively? What is the biggest risk you’ve taken?