Would you like to be more creative in your day-to-day problem solving and impress your boss with new ideas and concepts for tired old programs? Would you be interested in finding new ways to motivate and energize your work force to provide better customer service or enhance productivity? No doubt you would, but if you are like most people, you may be thinking there’s barely enough time in the day to get through your task list, never mind finding the time for getting creative.
But experts suggest that creativity is a process that is teachable and trackable, and that there are techniques and tools that can foster a more creative approach to life. And being creative doesn’t need to take a lot of time. But creativity does need to be continually nurtured and the creative impulse needs to be exercised regularly.
In a recent article in Scientific American, three experts – a psychologist, a poet/playwright, and a scholar – discuss the importance of creativity and the role that it has played in their lives and the lives of others, and offer ways that you can unleash your own creativity. They suggest that there is more to creativity than what some call “Big Creativity” or “Big C creativity” – big ideas and concepts with far-reaching impact. There is also “Small C creativity” that manifests itself in everyday problem solving.
The discussion suggests that there are four basic competencies or skill sets that are essential for creative expression:
“The first and most important competency is “capturing”—preserving new ideas as they occur to you and doing so without judging them … There are many ways to capture new ideas. Otto Loewi won a Nobel Prize for work based on an idea about cell biology that he almost failed to capture. He had the idea in his sleep, woke up and scribbled the idea on a pad but found the next morning that he couldn’t read his notes or remember the idea. When the idea turned up in his dreams the following night, he used a better capturing technique: he put on his pants and went straight to his lab!
The second competency is called “challenging”—giving ourselves tough problems to solve. In tough situations, multiple behaviors compete with one another, and their interconnections create new behaviors and ideas. The third area is “broadening.” The more diverse your knowledge, the more interesting the interconnections—so you can boost your creativity simply by learning interesting new things. And the last competency is “surrounding,” which has to do with how you manage your physical and social environments. The more interesting and diverse the things and the people around you, the more interesting your own ideas become.”
The article continues to suggest other ideas and techniques for fostering creativity. An important part of the creative process is simply unleashing or giving permission to the creative impulse. An all-too-frequent and unfortunate byproduct of the education process can be a stifling of our inner creativity. Children are naturally creative, but as part of the socialization process, that creativity is often suppressed. Experts in this article suggest that creativity demands a thick skin because rejection often goes hand in hand with creativity and the creative thinker often has to overcome obstacles to nurture a concept on to fruition.