“The creative adult is the child who survived.” Ursula Leguin
The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. Doing something creative gives us an instantaneous boost of positivity. Being creative can be as simple as busting out of your routine. Creativity can’t be used up, the more you use it, the more you have, that’s the beauty of it.
Creativity is all about experimenting, taking risks, breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way, making mistakes, and having fun. It’s not about worrying about what people will say, it’s doing you. It’s resuscitating your childlike curiosity. Creativity isn’t necessarily a characteristic you are born with; it’s a trait that can be honed through habit. With the right practice and persistence, you can rewire your brain to make the most of your inherent ability to generate original or different ideas.
At a personal level, creativity can be improved with these life-changing habits:
- Mindful observation. Our ability to create begins with observing the world around us. Mindful observation is about noticing and appreciating the details of your surroundings. By improving your observation skills, you’ll tap into your creative energy and discover nuances and details you hadn’t noticed before. This will also help you notice those things you are naturally drawn to.
- Take a creative stroll. Simply getting up and going for a walk will improve brain function and boost your creativity. You can also turn a walk into an opportunity to practice mindful observation. Watch people in a crowded area. Take mental note of things that catch your eye and make a quick sketch when you get home.
- Recharge your curiosity. Creativity thrives on curiosity. Our ability to wander, to dig into something and search for answers, ignites our creativity and fuels our innovative thoughts. But our thirst for knowledge can dwindle over time. We stop asking and begin accepting. Try sparking your imagination by asking simple questions. How, why, who, when, why this not that?
There are few other techniques you can use but I thought these should help you get started.
Now, how can managers inspire creativity in a workplace instead of killing it?
Managers can match people with jobs that play to their expertise and their skills in creative thinking, and ignite intrinsic motivation. Making a good match requires that managers possess rich and detailed information about their employees and available assignments. This match stretches employees’ abilities. The amount of stretch, however, is crucial: it should not be so little that they feel bored but not so much that they feel overwhelmed and threatened by a loss of control.
When it comes to granting freedom, the key to creativity is to giving people autonomy concerning the means – that is – concerning the process – but not necessarily the ends. People will be more creative, in other words, if you give them freedom to decide how to climb a particular mountain. You needn’t let them choose which mountain to climb. This also makes them feel valued rather than feeling like they’re just treated like kids who can’t think.
- Supervisory encouragement.
Most managers are extremely busy. They are under pressure for results. It’s therefore easy for them to let praise for creative efforts – not just creative successes but unsuccessful ones, too – fall by the wayside. One very simple step managers can take to foster creativity is to not let that happen. The connection to intrinsic motivation here is clear. Certainly, people can find their work interesting or exciting without a cheering section – for some period of time. But to sustain such passion, most people need to feel that their work matters to the organization or to some important group of people.
Managers in successful, creative organizations rarely offer specific extrinsic rewards for particular outcomes. However, they freely and generously recognize creative work by individuals and teams – often before the ultimate commercial impact of those efforts is known. By contrast, managers who kill creativity do so by failing to acknowledge innovative efforts or by greeting them with scepticism. Not every idea is worthy of consideration, of course, but in many organizations, managers habitually demonstrates a reaction that damages creativity. They look for reasons to not use a new idea instead of searching for reasons to explore it further, which is quite sad.
These are some of the few ways a manager can use to inspire creativity. Even if you believe that your organization fosters creativity, take a hard look for creativity killers. Some of them may be flouring in the dark corner – or even in the light. As a manager, this should help you take stock of how you work with your team/s and look at ways to improve your engagement with it.
I shared these and few other points to a team of managers I had a session with this past week and it really hit home. They were honest with me, most of them are creativity killers, but we are now working together in turning that situation around.
“Great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinion.” Jack Kerouac. Let’s be honest, your creativity was beaten down to the ground. You were told again and again to shut up, sit down and be safe because curiosity killed the cat. Until you reconnect with your child-like curiosity, you can kiss freedom and eternal peace of mind goodbye. So, as a manager, as a leader, what are you doing to help those you lead recharge their curiosity? No excuse now, I’ve given you some great ideas!
Your dreams have long been calling you, stop ignoring them, pick up that call and answer!
Veli Ndaba is a Professional and Motivational Speaker, Life-Coach and Neuro Linguistic Programming Practitioner, Author of four books (You Are Born to Win, Your Dream is Calling You and SWITCH ON! And Set Your Soul On Fire!), Newspaper Columnist and Entrepreneur. To book him to speak at your next event or to help you and your team unleash your greatness, contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org , www.velindaba.com or +27 83 304 9773