So, what is creative thinking and how to develop creativity? It just means adopting a different perspective to handle situations by coming up with unorthodox or “out of the box” solutions.
Most certainly, many people are judged as creative and not creative. You might have even put yourself in one of these categories. But, the truth is everyone is creative. Only the degree to which people express creativity varies.
Fortunately, you can increase your creative thinking and expression. Becoming more creative is neither a gift nor a talent — it is a learned skill. You can systematically unlock your creativity. However, you need to know the combination to the lock. That’s what this article is all about.
If you are ready to unleash your creative potential, these strategies will help you do it:
1. Clarify the Outcome
Why do you need creative thinking anyway? Usually, your creative gears begin to turn in response to a need. The need may arise from wanting to solve the problem. Or, the need may stem from wanting to take advantage of an opportunity. Either way, unless you have a clear picture of the outcome you desire, high quality creative solutions will always elude you.
So, the first step in creative thinking is defining the result. Allocate two or three days to complete this process. Keep revisiting the details of the final picture until you have a specific, measurable, action oriented, realistic, and time bound goal.
2. Brainstorm Solutions
Brainstorming is an indispensable part of every creative thinker’s toolkit. Begin the process by writing down any actions that can help you achieve your target. Don’t evaluate the merit of your ideas. Focus on unloading everything in your head on a paper, board, or screen. Brainstorming is important for two reasons. First, having all your options in front of you lets you cherry pick the best solutions. Second, it creates space in your head for new ideas to emerge.
You could complete the brainstorming process in one sitting. But, a thorough brainstorming will require three to five sessions. If you are facilitating a brainstorming session, make sure you conduct the process in a friendly and relaxed environment. To stimulate divergent thinking, approach the problem from as many directions as possible.
3. Emulate Models of Success
In his best-selling self-help book, Unlimited Power, Tony Robbins writes that success leaves clues. No matter what results you’re trying to produce, it is likely that someone has done it before you. Instead of looking for a brand-new solution, you can learn from the success of those who came before you. But remember, drawing inspiration is different from blatant plagiarism. Look for ways to shape existing solutions to fit your unique situation.
4. Iterate… Iterate… Iterate…
People working in the creative domain understand that it is difficult to get everything right in one shot. They are okay with things going wrong because they can fix it in the next iteration. But, some people don’t account for the need of iteration. That’s when everything becomes stressful. At the beginning of the project, if you allocate enough room for two or three iterations, your creative confidence will skyrocket.
5. Seek Expert Feedback
Soliciting feedback from computer and authorities is a great way to advance creative thinking. Subject matter experts have a higher vantage point than you do. They can see farther down the horizon then you can. Therefore, experts can warn you about pitfalls you missed or draw your attention to opportunities you didn’t notice. But, make sure you consult people who have a proven track record of producing the results you seek.
6. Don’t Obsess over Perfection
Anything you create, you can improve. You can always do to make your idea better. So, chasing perfection is a waste of creative energy. As soon as you have something that is good, tested it out. Don’t stress too much on going from good to perfect. This means you have to build your tolerance for mistakes. To do that, you must enhance your confidence. More confidence leads to less risk aversion. Consequently, bright and bold ideas begin to form in your mind.
7. Be Creative Every Day
Contrary to popular depictions, creativity is not about sudden lightbulb moments. Actually, creativity is everything but sudden. Creative thinking requires a consistent and disciplined approach. So, schedule some time a few times a week, just to think. When this becomes a habit, you program your mind to optimize its output during that window. Like your physical muscles, your creative muscles also grow with use and exercise.
8. Build Expertise
In his book Deep Work, Cal Newport explains that you can see the future only after you have seen the past. The people on the leading edge of their respective fields are the only ones you can create original works. That’s why you should invest a lot of time learning about your field. This takes significant effort. But, if million-dollar ideas came easy, we’d all be millionaires. So, find out who are the thought leaders in your field. Read their publications, attend their seminars, and if possible talk to them.
To remain healthy, you must make healthy habits a part of your life. The same way, nurturing creativity is all about building habits that promote exercising your mind by thinking outside the box. However, building new habits isn’t easy. So, you should start small and concentrate on one habit at a time. For more on habit building, read the book The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results by Steven Guise is another great read.
If you’re looking for a book on enhancing creativity, Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art is a must-read. Now that you know that, everyone is creative and can become more creative, the question is how profoundly can creative thinking change your life?
Well, why don’t you “think” about that?