Creativity and inspiration. Where do they come from? The answer may be as unique as the individual providing it. In this excerpt from Business is ART, 4 secrets to creativity are suggested – for those times when it just doesn’t come naturally.
Business is ART Excerpt
“But this stuff doesn’t just come to me. My brain doesn’t work that way,” you might say [when challenged to develop a creative solution].
Just remember, any plan is ART [Articulate, Revise, Track] and anyone can be an ARTist. We just all have different methods. So find or create one that works for you. Here are some suggestions to help you along:
- Take time out. Set aside time to remove yourself from the shackled environment to just kind of free your mind. That could be literally or figuratively. Maybe an afternoon on the water. Maybe a walk on the bike path. Maybe yoga. Maybe a treadmill. Maybe lying down on your couch with no TV or distractions. Whatever works for you. I personally have to work at finding ways to make my mind just shut down for a while. Not thinking is one of the hardest things to do because there is always something going on up there. But I find some of my best ideas come to me in the shower, riding in silence in the car, floating on a boat, or at that point between being asleep and waking up in the morning: those times when my mind is not racing on any number of subjects.
- Brainstorm. Now, some people think the term “brain- storming” is old, tired, irrelevant, and even politically incorrect. The cool kids are trying out all kinds of alternative words for it, like “mind showers.” But it’s a fruitless religious argument. Call it whatever you want; it’s how you do it that matters. The one thing you want to avoid is “groupthink.” This is when the most vocal or senior people in the room dominate the idea-generation session and, due to either their volume or their title, everyone else becomes robotic and automatically says, “That’s a great idea.” Find a way that works for you and your group in which all voices are heard and all ideas at least get on the table for consideration. For me, that method is the trusty old yellow sticky pad, for two reasons. One, it gives everyone a voice and two, as previously stated, there is tremendous power in writing something down. A method you might try is to hand out yellow sticky pads to everyone and ask them to write single ideas on single pieces of paper for whatever the topic or question is. Set a time limit. I like one to three minutes, depending on what I have asked them to respond to. Then tell them “pens down” and collect it all. Now you can stick all the ideas up on the wall and even begin to categorize them before moving on to the next topic. This works for me, but you have to find whatever works best for you. Maybe it’s this. Maybe not.
- Reverse Engineer. In Double Double, [Cameron] Herold suggests starting with the end state in mind, then working your way backward to determine the path forward. Instead of saying, “First, I need this,” think, “Last, I need this. Right before it, I need that.” Go from point Z to point A rather than points A to Z in your planning process to avoid the trap of doing the same old things the same old ways, hoping you will get different results. J.D. Salinger said, “I am a kind of paranoid in reverse. I suspect people of plotting to make me happy.” While there is humor in this statement, it is also very profound and perfectly parallels what Herold is saying. Salinger’s destination in this case is people making him happy. Narcissistic? Maybe. Selfish? Perhaps. Clever statement? Definitely. He starts with the destination. So what is he likely to do? He is likely to start from that destination and consciously or unconsciously work his way backward, ultimately engaging and surrounding himself only with those people who make him happy.
- Don’t “exception handle.” It drives me crazy when we’re trying to figure something out and there is that one person in the room who constantly says, “Well, that only works if this is true.” Pretty soon, we are so deep down a rabbit hole that even the rabbit has to carry an oxygen tank. So if you can’t go from Z to A and just have to go from A to Z, then stay focused on getting to Z by assuming everything will work just fine. You can exception handle on the next few passes, but on the first go, just go.