creative leadershipHave you ever had a project or deadline in which you had to think of a creative idea to build around? My sister, Samantha, had that same exact problem this weekend. She had been pondering for hours what to do her class project on. When I finally talked to her, she was close to tears. This was a huge project that she had yet to begin or know what it might entail.

Here are some resources, I share with her to get her out of a rut. Hope you find them useful:

Spark Creativity

There are times when we get stuck and have trouble coming up with new ideas. For those occasions, there are a few techniques you can use to trigger that creative impulse and get the creative juices flowing. Here are a few:

Carry a Journal. How often do you come up with a great idea only to forget it later?  Well, you can’t really know how often since you forget it.  So get a small notepad and pen and carry them with you wherever you go.  Whenever an interesting thought or idea hits you, write it down.  Take a look at your journal later and you might find something you can use.

Play with Children. Children spend all day playing, exploring, and using their imaginations.  You’ll be surprised how well this rubs off on adults.  If you’re stuck with a problem, play with children for a while.  You might even try asking them for solutions to your problem if you want to hear some really outside-the-box thinking.

Write a Screenplay. Stories trigger the imaginative parts of our brain that helps us tackle other challenges.  Try writing a screenplay by using Plotbot – a free web service for writing and collaborating on screenplays and other projects.

Feed Your Mind. Just like sleep can help your creative juices, the right food can stimulate brain activity.  Some foods believed to jump start the noggin include whole grains, blueberries, sunflower seeds, eggs, green tea, broccoli, red cabbage, walnuts, and even dark chocolate.

Seek the Absurd. Challenge your familiarity with logic and reason by checking out something absurd.  For example, go to a comedy show, look at some surreal artwork, or read Dr. Seuss or Lewis Carroll.

Click the link for 9 more ways to spark your creativity.

Resources for Creativity and Innovation

Here are a few PDF’s that Chris Brogan pulled together that you may find useful:

From Creative Economy to Creative Society

The Impact of Culture on Creativity

Harnessing Creativity and Innovation in the Workplace

Creativity and Personality

Creativity and Innovation in Europe

Having Fun at Work

Channeling Emotion into Creative Energy

We are passionate people full of raw emotion and creativity.  But we can channel that emotion into a burst of creative thinking.  Here are a few ways I have learned to turn my anger into creative problem solving:

Idea Storming:  Whenever I get angry, I grab my idea notebook and immediately do stream of consciousness writing.  I write for at least three pages without holding back, thinking about what I’m writing, or censoring myself.  Every time I do this I end up with either a great idea for a performance or a new solution for one of my companies.

White Board Drawing:  One of the walls in my office is a white board.  If I’m feeling steamed, I just pick up a dry erase marker and start drawing.  Like the previous exercise, I just scribble what comes into my mind without censorship.  This is a fruitful exercise for me personally since I am a very visual person.  After I cool down, I will step back and look at my anger-induced artwork.  I often see creative marketing solutions for my clients or ideas to help my community.

Physical Exercise:  Exercise is definitely not my favorite activity and it sometimes takes me a bit of motivation to get going.  So, whenever I find myself pacing the floor, I change my clothes and go for a run, practice Kung Fu, or do some yoga.  Not only does the rage push me through the physical exhaustion, but it also helps my mind come up with alternative solutions that I would not normally consider.

Big Ideas

Most innovation comes from creativity. I would actually argue that all innovation comes from creativity. However, it is not always easy to come up with the next big idea. Here are 3 ways to help you do just that:

lumosity and the creative brain and creativity expert Looking for the Next Big Idea? Einsteins SecretLumosity is a site full of games to increase your attention span, improved your memory, and better your concentration. The site allows you to create a training course based on the areas that you are looking to improve upon. 10 minutes a day will do wonders. I love this site and cannot say enough about it!

Daydream Believer: Einstein did some of his best work while daydreaming. He would sit and stare out the window for hours. It was the secret to his revelations. If you have an idea that you are working out or trying to solidify, why not daydream about it? Write down your problem or your idea and allow the mind to wander and create viable solutions.

Do you have ADHD or have a child with ADHD? Dr Jerome Singer, an emeritus professor of Psychology at Yale University, says that his research shows that daydreaming can have many constructive uses, including self-regulation and helping children to plan ahead. To read the full article, click here.

Psychological Distance: Scientific America describes “psychological distancing” as anything that we do not experience which is occurring now, here. Any thoughts of the past or possible future would fall into the “psychologically distant” category. It’s also possible to induce a state of “psychological distance” simply by changing the way we think about a particular problem, such as attempting to take another person’s perspective, or by thinking of the question as if it were unreal and unlikely.

You may be wondering why psychological distancing would have an effect on our creativity. The article goes onto explain…

According to CLT, psychological distance affects the way we mentally represent things, so that distant things are represented in a relatively abstract way while psychologically near things seem more concrete. Consider, for instance, a corn plant. A concrete representation would refer to the shape, color, taste, and smell of the plant, and connect the item to its most common use – a food product. An abstract representation, on the other hand, might refer to the corn plant as a source of energy or as a fast growing plant. These more abstract thoughts might lead us to contemplate other, less common uses for corn, such as a source for ethanol, or to use the plant to create mazes for children. What this example demonstrates is how abstract thinking makes it easier for people to form surprising connections between seemingly unrelated concepts, such as fast growing plants (corn) and fuel for cars (ethanol).

All three exercises can be done in less than 20 minutes a day. Isn’t your next BIG thing worth that?

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2 Responses

  1. Tim Anderson

    Nice Blog! Always looking for creativity ideas. I carry a sketch book and doodle my ideas, and other stuff.

    Also, hanging out with other creatives and sharing ideas can be very powerful!

  2. William Xifaras

    At times we have to take ourselves out of the comfort zone to be creative.

    It’s easy to get caught up with the day-to-day while neglecting the untapped resources of our creative mind. Implementing these resources opens those closed doors.


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