Becoming More Creative

Creativity is something that can be learned – developed. The creative minds of the age got that way through tenacity and spirit – the spirit of innovation in thought.

The late Steve Jobs, creator of Apple, and one of the most prodigious innovators the world has ever seen, probably wasn’t always that way – he was a kid at school, just like you or me – goofing around a bit in between learning.

But what separated him from the rest of us was that he found something he loved, found it and stuck to it, until he and his co-inventor/innovator founded Apple computers – Mackintosh – i-pod – all the stuff that has changed our world beyond recognition.

How did he do it? Well, for a start, he probably came to develop skills out of five primary principles.

These five primary principles are:

Seek Novelty
Seeking the new in life doesn’t mean you have to throw out the old; it means being open to ideas about your life, instead of being closed up. Being that way is often akin to being frightened of the new. Live every day as if it were your last, and one day it will be! Up until then though, do not be afraid of change; meeting change and adapting successfully to it is extremely beneficial for your psyche. The converse is true: shying away from the new means being retiring and retired at the same time. If you are like this, and most of us are to some degree, you tell yourself little stories to justify not doing anything, don’t you? We all do it, it’s got something to do with the human condition, but that isn’t set in concrete; our species is the most adaptable one on the planet, or rather say that we change the world to adapt to us – not the same thing at all! On an individual level though, seeking out new approaches to life, new ways to get things done – new ways to get to work (you have to start somewhere, and where and when better than at the start of your day?

Challenge Yourself
This could take the form of challenging yourself physically – by walking at a fast pace for two hours, for example, or it could take the form of challenging yourself mentally. Perhaps the most difficult way you can challenge yourself mentally is to question all your preconceived notions about everything you do, about everybody you know; about all your opinions – challenging yourself in this way can and should be life-changing.

Getting physically fitter will have immediate benefits – you won’t feel as tired, or as stressed, you’ll sleep better and wake refreshed.

Becoming mentally replenished, so to speak, means that you will become more optimistic about your life – a change from habitually being in that other state – what Churchill called ‘the black dog’ – depression!

Changing the ways in which you have come to habitually view the world and everything and everybody in it will have direct and great advantages: you will be actively sought out as good company; people will come to rely on your judgment; will come to depend upon your good common sense approach to life, rather than the ‘stick-in-the-mud’ way used to think.

Doing all this will make you think more deeply about the things that affect you, even about the things that don’t – it is usually these last things about which your thoughts and opinions are most entrenched – it’s our way of coping with diversity in the world – of making it go away, of putting it in a cupboard and forgetting about it, to which I say that living life this way is like living as if you weren’t alive at all – a form of sleep walking, if you prefer not to be so gloomy.

Think Creatively
This is probably easier than it sounds. The traditional thing to say by people who don’t think they are creative or think they can be, is that creative people are born and not made – stuff and nonsense! Creative people are the way they are because they have worked at becoming more creative. If you think creatively, you are creative. The question is, how do you begin; well, you can make a start by doing simple mental exercises – by asking yourself questions beginning with the words – ‘What if… ” What if I went a different way to work? What if I tackled my work as if I wanted to show someone else how I do it? What if I were the Head of my department – what would I recommend? Start simple at first, but once you begin to view the world like this, you’ll have difficulty stopping doing so – you’ll be creative.

There are lots of other, equally effective ways of thinking creatively.

Start today and enrich your life while making yourself into the kind of person you never imagined you could ever become.

Do Things The Hard Way
Too often, we take the short cut, the easy way, we avoid any kind of difficulty in our lives. My question here is this: Do we benefit from doing things this way; from taking the easy way? Our muscles stiffen through inactivity; our brains atrophy – deteriorate – and we grow unaccustomed to doing things that present us with challenges. If we take life head-on, so to speak, and don’t blanch at difficulty but defeat it, we become stronger, fitter, more mentally alert – more creative.

Here’s my daily dose of creating difficulty for myself – it doesn’t take long, but it improves me. Driving to and from work every day, I try to drive as if I’m taking my driving test again: stopping at white lines, keeping to my lane, observing the speed limit, being considerate to other road users (not the easiest thing to do), and generally driving in an exemplary way and driving correctly – not endangering myself or anyone else on the road. Now this may sound fairly simple; but it actually isn’t; it’s difficult and requires some thought – continual thought, actually, rather than me driving on what I can ‘automatic pilot’ – doing things more or less without doing too much thinking.

How does this help me? Well, for a start, it makes my drive in and out much more enjoyable – it tests my driving knowledge and my ability to manipulate my way through Al Ain, and it tests me mentally; imagining there is a sharp-eyed driving instructor sitting next to me as I drive tunes up my thoughts and makes me feel sharper than I otherwise would.

Try it and see; do NOT take the easy way, the ‘lazy way’ of driving, but observe all the rules of the road – written or not, and then tell me you didn’t find the experience enjoyable – tell me your driving hasn’t improved dramatically because of it – and this is all before you begin the serious business of the day – your business! Tell me that once you begin to take on minor challenges like the one I’ve just outlined, that it doesn’t make you more self-confident, happier, more aware of what is around you!

Meeting people is always a nice thing to do – meeting old friends or making new ones is always worthwhile – it’s what makes us human – feel part of something bigger than our own ego. Networking is a way of spreading ideas, getting new ideas, making a name for yourself, finding others with similar interests and passions; it’s a way of moving in circles that do not just revolve around you. New friends have their friends, who may very well become your friends soon, or not.

The point is that you are moving out of your ‘comfort zone’ by introducing yourself to others; this is what is stimulating about doing it. You find yourself overcoming your own shyness at meeting strangers; becoming more outgoing, listening more to what others have to say rather than chirruping your usual blurb. You are becoming human, you are becoming a functioning part of something bigger – your community. We all belong to so many of those: the community at home and the one at work; the one at the coffee shop, and the one after the conference you just took part in. Networking tells others where you are – where you stand – what you like, and what you don’t – it locates you, and in so doing, it allows you to learn something invaluable – how to become someone people want to talk to – and that’s always very worthwhile, isn’t it?