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Innovation & Creativity: Two qualities you want to possess

creativity

http://feelgrafix.com/1000833-creative.htm

Article Contributed by Amy Sargent

 

“I’m just not that creative.”

You’ve surely heard this phrase from team members who don’t think they are innovative. Or maybe you’ve said it yourself. There is a misnomer about imagination and inventiveness, that they are mysterious, hidden talents reserved only for the highly gifted and accomplished sculptors, musicians, painters, and designers of the world. The truth is, we all possess a degree of creativity, but we’ve buried it so deeply that it feels impossible to dredge up. Creativity and innovation are valuable competencies of social and emotional intelligence which can be of great benefit once developed.

How creative are you?  Take this fun, short quiz to find out:  http://thecreativityquiz.com/ (created by Tanner Christensen).

I once had an art professor who fit the stereotype of ‘artist’ in every shape and form. She spoke in abstracts (as in, those of us who prided ourselves in our literal mindsets would look at each other and roll our eyes when she’d launch into one of her ‘way out there’ discourses). She wore whimsical, flowing skirts and scarves and her hair was rather unkempt. When she spoke, her eyes would drift off and out the window to who knows where, as if her body was present with us in the classroom but her mind was merrily wandering in a faraway land of enchantment. Being the analytical, stick-to-the-point kind of person that I am, I struggled to connect with her and stay engaged in the course. My low point was the day when she walked in and said, with a flamboyant wave of her hand, “Paint a tree.“

Paint a tree. That seemed simple enough. All the creatives in class immediately went to work, opening up their vials of linseed oil, mixing colors, and splashing paint on their canvases…and I just sat there. Paint a tree? I needed perimeters. Guidelines.  Lines to color in. I raised my brush to signal her to come over. I had a plethora of questions. What kind of tree? How large? In what season? How many branches? Should it have a landscape? How many details do we add? All of which of course she refused to answer. With each inquiry she pursed her lips tighter, smiled and shook her head (which needless to say didn’t help my already-struggling attitude toward the class).

After an excruciating 15 minutes of me stewing in a near-panic attack, our instructor finally broke her silence and stated, as if to the whole class (but I know it was directed to me as I was the only one sitting motionless), “Your tree can be absolutely anything you dream of.”  In other words, let go of my limiting analytical frameworks and just create.

Creativity is the ability to open up to new ideas, perspectives, and approaches and actually try them out. It’s thinking ‘out of the box’ and allowing yourself to pursue a new way of doing things. This quality is vital in the professional world where our clients are in constant demand for us to provide the best, the latest, the most up-to-date, and the most interesting. Without creativity we can get stuck doing things the way we always have, which in this fast-paced society, can quickly become antiquated and insignificant.

If you’re one who struggles with creative thinking, the good thing is that it can be learned. Consider these 6 L’s for starters:

  • Learn to brainstorm – when a solution is being asked for, write down your first thought—and then make yourself come up with at least five other solutions.
  • Lean in to your teammates – gathering ideas from others and adopting them as your own can help you begin to see unique alternatives.
  • Look for the surprises in the everyday. Tuning in to the ordinary with all of your senses can spark creative ideas.
  • Let yourself ask questions, especially exploring the ‘why’s’.
  • Lay out some space in your daily schedule to allow time to ponder, conceptualize and dream. We can’t be creative when we are worn out by too many demands.
  • Listen to your positive emotions.  Researcher say that positive emotions are more conducive to creativity than negative ones (https://hbr.org/2015/08/the-emotions-that-make-us-more-creative). Allow these feelings to guide your though processes.

There are many exercises and activities you can do to increase your ability to think creatively. Working with a coach who has been trained in social and emotional intelligence can be a terrific asset to getting your creative juices flowing.

Somehow on that fateful day in art class I was able to complete the assignment and produced a scraggly, weather-twisted tree whose branches cast a sparse canopy for the wind-blown grasses I brushed in beneath. Though it definitely was not best-in-class, it actually resembled a tree and had a touch of original imagery. And now, some 20 years later, I rely on my creativity when tackling projects of all types. My ability to generate fresh ideas with a good degree of resourcefulness has become one of my strong points.

Just don’t ask me to paint another tree.

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