Creativity - A Habit worth Nurturing

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“I just traded out of it”. This was the response to a question I asked an office furniture manufacturer when he shared his story about when his largest customer canceled their account. Overnight he lost 60% of his business; I was really intrigued as to how he survived such a blow.

He saw it as just getting on with a really, really bad day. When I heard what he actually did, I saw it as unflagging hard work and yes, applying a healthy dose of creativity.

He had a crippling surplus of stock, an angry customer and staff to pay. He contacted all of his current clients but apart from a minor increase in sales, this brought no salvation. He admitted to spending a good few hours staring despairingly at the wall but then he saw an advert for an auction in the Classifieds. He placed an advert for an auction-for-beginners’ at his factory. He had no idea how to run one, but he contacted an agency and negotiated a discounted fee, based on the potential for future business.

He faxed copies of the advert to office managers within a 15km radius and offered free drinks and snacks. He moved enough stock to survive, some of it at a loss, but at least there was cash in the bank and most importantly, he developed relationships with new end-user customers. He had also started to trade his way out of a disaster.

Creative” is a characteristic that few small business owners would use to describe themselves, but it seems to me that the mere acts of starting a business, finding customers and solutions to their problems, handling staff conflict and developing new product offerings are extremely creative. Sadly, what tends to happen as the day-to-day stresses of running a business take their toll, we literally stop thinking in terms of “what if?” defaulting instead to “what now!”

This three-step process may help to develop a habit of “what if?” thinking so that when the proverbial rainy day arrives, we can tap into our innate creativity more easily:

1) What do I see? (Build a picture in your mind)

e.g. I see a productive factory full of happy and motivated staff

2) What do I think?

It’s not possible to achieve this without money and with the current tough labor laws

3) What if?

I wonder what it would be like; I wonder what we would have done to achieve it; I wonder how long it would take; I wonder how we built such a positive team; I wonder…

It is human nature to stop at the second step. There are always reasons why it’s not possible, but the really exciting opportunities are only accessible once we allow ourselves to play in the “what if?” space. I use the word ‘play’ deliberately because this is when we free ourselves up and let our creativity out. There is no such thing as a wrong or unrealistic answer. As children, we saw dragons in cloud formations and that was so cool! The aim of this process is not necessarily to come up with solutions to problems but to develop the habit of thinking differently, thinking creatively.

What if? …What if we land that big client? What if I have happy and productive staff? What if I can actually take that family holiday? What if we can develop a better delivery solution?

Key take out: Developing a habit of creativity may help unfreeze our thinking at a time of crisis or simply solve an irritating operations glitch. Either way, the daily five-minute time investment is worth it

What if? …What if we land that big client? What if I have happy and productive staff? What if I can actually take that family holiday? What if we can develop a better delivery solution?

 

Developing a habit of creativity may help unfreeze our thinking at a time of crisis or simply solve an irritating operations glitch. Either way, the daily five-minute time investment is worth it

 

Author: Janet Askew

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24 comments
    Creativity.... I really think that our very over regulated society corporate jobs and slogging at the office has bred creativity out of the majority of people. I say this becasue mostly our own ideas and new ideas and disruptive thinking is just not what the system wants. It wants people who do as they are told mostly But the joy of developing your own story and living it is the key to unlocking the most interesting and alive you
    And its that feeling of being alive that permeates your aura when you have turned on creativity
    I agree ShaunAnderson and people need to stop being so afraid of theircreativity! If you’ve got a creative idea then the best way to discover its worth is to get it out there. If you keep it to yourself then an idea is just that...an idea. Nothing more. And the great thing is the more ideas you get out there and turn into reality...the better they’ll get. Like anything else practice makes perfect. All the best inventors have a long list of prototypes that never got past the second stage but at least they were explored and tested. Like Nike said - Just Do It!
    It is also amazing how sometimes the answer to a deadend lack of ideas is in a completely different approach and when that light comes on you think WOW thats brilliant why did i not think of that before
    Creativity isn’t just what you think it’swhat you do with what you think Ideas are worthless until you get them out of your head and start doing something with them As a self taught musician of dubious ability i used to play and practice in my room and loved it. Years later i am dropping off a new guy who had joined the company at his house and saw that he had a few amps and speakers and guitars set up in a spare room It obviously peaked my interest and i suggested we play a tune. From this we started a small 2 piece lounge band and played background music at a caberet club his brother managed and things went from strength to strength got a piano player and played for years all over the place. I learned that youre only really creative when you perform to real people and see how much joy your talent brings to others... creativity needs expression
    And if you think of an idea that at first seems ridiculous don’t kill it off immediately...there’s often a kernel of inspiration in there that if given a chance to grow can become something amazing. Always note your thoughts down. You can return to them later and explore them with a fresh perspective.
    As businesss owners we should be encouragingthis behaviour in ourstaff. Make your business atmosphere one where people feel comfortable throwing in those ideas out of left field. That person recently mocked for an idea that may not have had any traction may well come up with your Next Big Thing but you’ll never know if they no longer have the confidence to speak up.
    Often what sets one creative person apart from the rest is not only their willingness to be open to new ideas but their willingness to try things too. And if you want to know how to get your CREATIVITY unlocked lets start at the only logical place... positivity POSITIVITY is a choice that you make and you learn to make. Its all about WHY WOULD YOU THINK YOUR DESTINYIS IN SOMEONE ELSES HANDS ????
    Ohers ahve absolutely no control over your choices so for crying out loud stop passing the blame If you dont think positively it is entirely YOU TO BLAME... do not PLEASE try and lay the blame somewhere else POSITIVITY is your choice...JUST DO IT
    I agree TheTastyChef and rather than making your staff prisoners of their schedules make them masters of them. Stress and fear are the enemies of creativity. Taking breaks is healthy; enforced routine can breed mediocrity. If your staff are too busy worrying about getting to work bang on time (or early!) and presenting a facade of working late to appease the culture then that’s valuable time and brain power that they won’t be committing to dreaming up or manifesting creative approaches to your success. A creative mind requires space within which to flex. And flexibility is the key word here. The more draconian the enforced rules and regulations around minutiae such as clocking in and out the fewer creative minds you will obtain and retain.
    This obviously leads to how can you be positive when everyone around you is miserable negative blaming everyone else is sick tired depressed uninteresting skinnering telling anyone who will listen to them their sob stories Please.... get rid of these people... move cities become a hermit find the ones who are creative who are alive who have learned that positivity and CAN DO is a choice. Because if you want all your creativity to shrivel up and become a raisin... stick with the former list
    So How do youget out of a creative rut??? Start with positivity around you and then lets have a look
    By definition a rut is a deep track made by the repeated passage of a person or thing. It’s like going out for a walk every day of your life and always taking the same path. Over time that path becomes worn and deep no matter whether it’s over rock dirt snow or sand. The path will show and its edges will be notably tall. Your brain is filled with ruts. When you were younger you began to see the world and learn things over time the more you saw similar things or experiences the same thing your brain began to develop patterns or ruts to make accessing that information easier to do. Like walking the same path every day the more you think in the same patterns the deeper those patterns get.
    Yes ShaunAnderson bysurrounding yourself with other creative people you should find your own creative spirit being encouraged and nurtured. If those around you are closed-minded then your creative bloom can wither over time in the aridity of your environment.
    The late great Robin Williams in one of his lesser known roles once said 'I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It's not. The worst thing in life is ending up with people who make you feel all alone.'
    As a business owner if you’re looking to nurture build and allow creativity to flourish in your organization you need to be aware that you don’t have all the answers. You can learn something from everybody. Yes it may your company or you’ve obtained a senior position so you’re understandably proud of your achievements to date but you cannot succeed on your own.
    The typical pyramid power structure of an organization should be turned on its head so that the boss spends a great deal more time ensuring people’s jobs are fulfilling than simply bossing them around. Quite often the best ideas develop from the bottom up rather than the top down. Trust your talent.
    And it's OK to experiment. Try something new with your projects. Look to new ideas and go for what hasn't been done before...sometimes your best work can spring up out of a hunch or gut feeling! Go on give it a go...the excitement of the unknown is what keeps us alive. Not being afraid to make a mistake is crucial to succeeding in creative endeavours. Having creative ideas is one thing but actually acting on them to prove them out is another. Rather than having more and more idea meetings why not actuallyworkon some ideas and test them?
    Yes and you should also create space for your creativity both inside and outside. Take a look around you and within you. Most people carry a lot of debris floating and bumping about in a constant orbit distracting and cluttering their creative space. Take time out every day to keep these spaces clear. 20 minutes meditation and 10 minutes clearing your desk/office/apartment every day will help the clarity and focus of your mind. You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes every day unless you’re too busy then you should sit for an hour.
    JK ROWLINGS thinking is The reality is that the most successful people are actually theleast likely to follow rules. They arethe misfits. They only rise to the top because they follow their own meaningfully different path. The only rule for success is that there are no rules. Do your thing… your way!
    Here are 6 ways crteative people differ from their less creative counterparts. The misfitgoes hunting for inspiration with a club. The others wait for inspiration to arrive. The misfitis brave enough to rock the boat. The others avoid making waves. The misfitcreates their own path. The others follow the pack. The misfitseeks out opportunities. The others look for guarantees. The misfituses their creative instinct. The others follow the handbook. The misfitdoes what’s required. The others do what’s comfortable.
    The creative adult is the child who survived.
    Embrace your inner misfit You were born unique. That uniqueness is still within you. Yes it may take time but you can reconnect with it. A great place to start is to observe the freedom with which your kids siblings or grand-kids behave. Look at how they create how curious they are and how much fun they have. Learn from them. There are very few adults who retain or recapture their ability to think with the freedom of a child. But those who do are the misfits. The people who make a difference.
    I love the idea of the child who survived: the kid who grew-up whilst still hanging onto theirchild-like imagination and curiosity. Schools tend to try and make kids conform to a measurablenorm. Teachers and fellow students make life tough for kids who are different. So kids slowly learn to fit in. This robs children of their chance to be their unique-self. The misfit they were born to be. Today you have full artistic freedom