Published: Working World

Babies can spend hours on end, each and every day, fascinated with a toy…enthusiastically touching, tasting and exploring the texture and shape of it. All of us have experienced a time in our lives when wonder, curiosity and imagining were as natural as breathing. By the time we reached adulthood, many of us not only believed that we weren’t creative; we demonstrated it with lives that revealed very little vision or imagination.

Where has our creativity gone? Starting in infancy, children are taught that there is a right way of doing everything, from eating to playing. When you performed appropriately, you were praised. Discipline occurred when you behaved outside of the established norms.

This process of learning what is right and what is wrong is essential to the survival and development of a child. However, this same process taught us to limit our ability to explore and stretch the boundaries of our universe.

Additionally, it is believed that the strong left-brain, factual orientation of our educational system and society has discouraged the use of our creative right brain. Sequential, reality thinking is consistently esteemed and rewarded. Teachers and bosses alike discourage visionary, intuitive right-brain thinking. One of the supreme truths of life is that what is honored flourishes. Have you honored and respected the creative process (thinking outside of the box) in your own life?

We need to stimulate and reconnect to our creativity, for this is the origin of our visions and goals. Without the force of creativity spurring us on, it is difficult for breakthroughs and results to occur. As Robert Fritz says in his book Creativity, “Creating is the place where the human spirit shines its brightest light.” Let’s explore aspects we can develop that will enable us to bring this “bright light” into our lives.

Thorough Knowledge
David Ogilvy, founder of the Ogilvy & Mather advertising agency, once said that, “nothing is more dangerous than an ignorant subconscious.” Facts, ideas and a thorough knowledge of the subject are essential elements for the unconscious mind in the development of creative thought. Though simply having knowledge will not guarantee creativity, extensive knowledge of a subject is the foundational building block.

Failure is Necessary
The creative process assumes that failures guide and direct you toward a greater understanding of the subject. Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari and Axion Toys, says, “Unless you’re willing to accept failure, you’re not really willing to push yourself to the edge.” Mistakes and errors are nothing more than feedback. Remember, anything worth doing is definitely worth doing until you learn how to do it right…this means mistakes are necessary to the creative process.

Take Risks
Bob Metcalfe, President of 3COM, says “(Innovation) requires gambling and risk taking.” Go for it—fear holds you back from achieving magnificent, unexpected results. It takes courage and the willingness to risk going against the grain, to be out of the ordinary and ultimately to face failure. Arthur Koestler said, “If the Creator had a purpose in equipping us with a neck, he certainly meant for us to stick it out.”

Latent Germination
Often concepts and vision need a time to brew, to simmer. Living internally with the vision gives you the opportunity to experiment and play with the idea until it comes to specific clarity. This is when your creative thoughts are growing and developing. The details are honed. To the outside world, it may appear that nothing is happening; but this deep, internal process is a powerful stage in creating. Now is not the time for sharing your creative ideas with the outside world. It is, however, a time of nurturing, formulating and giving concrete structure to your ideas.

Intense Concentration
In John Brigg’s book about creativity, The Fire in the Crucible, he says, “By doing studies of rock climbers, musicians, chess players and dancers, Csikszentmihalyi discovered that people enter an almost addicting state when they can concentrate their attention on a limited stimulus field, forget personal problems, lose their sense of time and of themselves, feel competent in control and have a deep sense of harmony and union with their surroundings.” Deep concentration enhances and boosts the creative process.

Necessary Collaboration
Howard Gardner, author of The Creating Mind, believes that collaboration enhances the creative process. He states, “I knew that at least some creators had close confidents…but what emerged from the study was more dramatic: not only did the creators all have some kind of significant support system, but this support system appeared to have a number of defining components.” People working together often amplify and improve the creative efforts of the individual.

Go for Completion
Without completion, creativity has not taken place. You can do all of the necessary steps up to completion, but if you do not produce specific envisioned results, all the steps coming before were simply a waste of time and energy.

Creating is within everyone, though it doesn’t necessarily look the same. After reading these ideas for stimulating creativity in your life, don’t be concerned if your creative efforts don’t match up to the suggestions. The mystery of the creative process is its uniqueness. It is a highly individualized process. The methodology that brings about creativity successfully for one person may not necessarily work for another.

Don’t become discouraged, just “keep on keeping on.” The one absolute essential to the creative process is that you must continually give space in your life to creating, and in the “doing” you will naturally and consistently improve your ability to create. The more you create, the more you will become a creator.

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