Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Cultivating Creativity

Business leaders often tell us to “think big,” “think outside the box,” “be different,” and so on. From my experience, I think that is easier said than done. When I try so hard to be creative, I ended up being frustrated and disappointed in myself because everything that comes to mind doesn’t seem to “make sense.” I realized, however, that not everything should necessarily make sense at first. Many creative ideas start off by not making sense. The distinguishing factor for a creative idea lies in people themselves. 

People who have the courage to step out of their comfort zones to take “the road less traveled” and think of something that may sound ridiculous to other people. They don’t get discouraged when others scoff at their ideas. Instead, they persist through challenging times.

In business, creativity is part of the organization, regardless of whether we like it or not. We need to come up with ideas for business strategies, start-up companies, branding, marketing and the list goes on and on. That is why creativity is such an important asset and skill for businessmen and women.

Here are some things that I found helpful in cultivating creativity:

Brainstorming — When in a large room full of people, we have the opportunity to interact and share ideas with each other. With many working minds, those ideas can lead to something great. Granted, some people are extroverts, while others are introverts and the introverts probably work better when they have some alone time. What they can do is list ideas that they have and bring them to the table during brainstorming sessions. There should not be any judgment during this time and everyone should be allowed to speak freely without any restrictions.

Sleep on it — My “A-HA” moment sometimes comes when I am well rested. When we are too tired, sleepy, hungry, or worse, all of the above, our brains sometimes don’t work, nothing comes to mind and we lack enthusiasm to come up with ideas. It is important to sustain ourselves with adequate food and sleep.

Seek inspiration from your surroundings — There are many things that could spark creativity: the media, the people that we talk to, nature, and even our very own office. We just need to look at things from a different perspective and find things that can benefit others. This can be difficult, even for me, but practice makes perfect.

 An article from entrepreneur.com provides more exercises to boost creativity. 

— Nadiah Johari