Innovation through Creativity: Jumpstarting Your Mind
“Every child is an artist; the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.” – Pablo Picasso
Inspiration and creativity drive your entrepreneurial spirit. Without original ideas and strategies, businesses lose their unique identities. However, it can be difficult to keep the creative fire stoked on a daily basis. The last thing you want is for your inspiration to grow stagnant. So how do you ensure you’re continually moving forward with new perspectives and fresh ideas?
It’s nearly impossible to create on demand. Consider a writer staring at an empty page, paralyzed by writer’s block. It is a frustrating, helpless feeling when the creative muse has left the building.
However, rather than try to somehow work your way through that block, you should focus on your playful side. Often, writers will give themselves playful activities or word games to break out of crippling writer’s block. Encouraging that playful spirit is essential to honing your creativity and developing strategies to avoid a stale frame of mind. Consider these activities:
- Team sports can be great for physical activity, social contact, and encouraging focus. Great ideas can hit you when you’re fielding a fly ball or nailing a jump shot.
- Exploring your hobbies can open up your creativity. Whether you enjoy painting, woodworking, or hiking the trails, unstructured ventures allow you to lose yourself. You are seeking activities that let your mind flow easily.
- Keep paper and drawing materials on hand. By drawing (however badly), you are encouraging your creative flow. Don’t always rely on written notes. Sometimes, when you try to immediately translate an idea into words, you actually inhibit your inspiration. Make your thinking visible through doodles, sketches, and drafts.
- Don’t be afraid of embarrassing yourself. Creativity can arrive in many ways. Some people readily “act out” their ideas. Some people hit a roadblock and are able to sing their way through their issues. It might sound silly, but these methods encourage you to take a new approach through spontaneous action. Consider it improv for your inner creative genius. Sometimes you have to be willing to go beyond embarrassment to achieve.
- Take a cue from children. They get it. Give a four-year-old a cardboard box, and that box quickly becomes a car or spaceship to explore the universe. Give a child a treehouse, and you’ve got a pioneer or pirate on your hands. For business owners to kick-start creativity, they need to consciously decide to bring playful activities into their daily lives.
Eliminate Creativity Killers
Creativity requires a flow of thought. If that flow is interrupted, it’s incredibly difficult to get back into the state of mind that lets loose the river of ideas. To maintain focus and peak creativity, you need to:
- Eliminate distractions. While the Internet contains a wealth of information and ideas, it can severely inhibit your own creativity. You should make time in your day to go on a limited-access diet. Shut off technology and see what happens to your well of ideas.
- Be aware of how you take constructive criticism. While it’s exciting (and sometimes required) to receive feedback about your ideas, it can also kill your creative streak. If your confidant responds negatively to your ideas, it’s difficult not to dwell on it. On the other hand, if you refuse to pay attention when someone points out what’s obviously not working, then you’re condemning yourself to future frustration as well. Keep in mind that only you know the full intent and scope of your work.
New ideas, insights, and strategies depend on a creative mind. One of the challenges for business owners is promoting that creativity through a playful spirit. Incorporating opportunities for play, rather than scheduling it out of your life, can inspire cognitive and business growth. When you lose opportunities for playfulness, you’re losing chances to exercise the part of your brain that will produce your next amazing idea.
Andrew C. Marshall (Drew) is the Principal of Primed Associates, LLC, an innovation consultancy. Prior to founding Primed Associates, LLC, Drew spent ten years with Princeton-based management consulting firm Kepner-Tregoe, where he rose to become a Partner and the Chief Innovation Officer.