Photo by h.koppdelaney
By Robin Krieglstein
Creativity can save the world. Creativity can save your life. Yes it’s that powerful. It can make you a millionaire; enchant the lover of your dreams; take you around the world; or fill your days with joy and wonder. Creativity is one of the most in-demand skills required for the jobs of tomorrow. And yet we get almost no creativity training in school. It’s expected that you either have it, or you don’t. Read on to find a simple method to begin unleashing your own creative brilliance.
The Incredible Power of Creativity
First, let’s take a moment to look at the value of creativity. I consider creativity one of the biggest keys to living an extraordinary life. Creativity is essentially the ability to think about things in a new way – to take the available resources and find new ways to use them. It can be used in a variety of artistic ways to create profound new experiences for you and your audience. And it can also be used to solve difficult problems – like how to design an amazing new product, how to get out of debt, how to cure malaria or how to arrange the most memorable, romantic date ever. Whenever you have a goal, creativity can help you figure out how to get from here to there faster, cheaper and easier.
If you think about it, there are really very few completely unbreakable laws in the universe. Strictly speaking there are a handful of things like gravity, the speed of light and so on. With so few real limitations, we really we have enormous freedom to use our skills, time and resources to accomplish amazing things. We just have to figure out how. And that’s where creativity comes in. In fact, I think if someone could figure out exactly the right things to do and say, they could even bring about world peace within 30 days. Think about it…
Everyone has enormous creative potential; they just haven’t learned how to unleash it. There is a simple process you can use that overcomes the 3 most common creativity mistakes so you can generate powerful ideas toward whatever goals you’re working on. So first let’s examine the 3 mistakes:
3 Common Creativity Mistakes
1. Lack of Focus: Some people generate lots of great ideas but because they’re not directed, they can’t be used to accomplish anything meaningful. At other times, people set out to generate ideas without being really clear about what they’re trying to achieve. For example, if you sit down to brainstorm “How can I make more money?” then “pan handling” would be a valid solution. Much better results would come from a focused question like, “How can I increase my income by 50% within 12 months?”
2. Lack of Time: Like any activity, creativity takes concentrated effort. Thinking takes time. But most people just don’t sit down and spend the time to actively brainstorm solutions to problems. In fact, this is a big difference between experts and amateurs for many different activities. The experts often spend more time on projects than amateurs. Don’t worry about not having the time to brainstorm. Brainstorming solutions to life’s problems pays for itself in more rapidly solved problems.
3. Lack of Subconscious Processing: It’s important to recognize that the mind continues to work on problems even when you think you’re doing something else. Many famous geniuses have written about this phenomenon and how they used it. It’s pretty common for amazing solutions to problems to just pop into someone’s mind hours or days later when they’re taking a walk, sleeping, showering or doing just about anything. But you have to “prime the pump” and give it time to work. Now let’s get to the process that allows you to do that.
The 3 Step Process for Unleashing Your Brilliance
1. Ask a Question: Grab a fresh sheet of paper or digital document, and write the specific question you’re trying to answer at the top. This deliberate start to brainstorming helps focus your mind, and lets you begin to get curious about the answer. Remember, be specific. For example, instead of “How can I build a better mouse trap?” ask “How can I build a mouse trap that catches twice as many mice, is easier to use, and people will gladly pay twice as much for?”
2. Brainstorm Solutions: Now just start writing down possible answers. Brainstorm! Don’t censor yourself at all. Write every idea down. You’ve got to work on impulse and don’t allow your inner critic, or rational side, to process the answers. At first you’ll likely write a lot of obvious answers that also have obvious flaws to them. They’re probably too risky, too expensive, too slow or flawed in some other way. But as you keep rapidly writing, you’ll start putting down zany ideas that are too crazy to work, like finding a magic lantern, or robbing a bank. When you keep at it, you’ll eventually start getting ideas that seem zany at first, but then reveal themselves to be really clever, unique solutions to that specific problem. You might solve your problem in the first brainstorm, but if not, go on to the next step.
3. Repeat Daily: This is where you unleash the power of your subconscious mind. Each day for the next few days, or week or month (whatever it takes), sit down and brainstorm for another 5 minutes. Again, just throw down as many crazy ideas as you can for answering the question you posed at the top of the page. Each day you that do this, you’ll benefit from the work your subconscious has done on the problem during the previous 24 hours. Even your sleep time is productive for creative problem solving. Very clever recent studies have shown how sleeping on a problem increases leaps of insight. Also, each day that you do this, you’re encouraging your subconscious to look into the problem further, and you increase the odds that a brilliant flash of insight will hit you sometime when you least expect it.
4. Bonus Strategy: If you’re really having trouble generating fresh ideas, it might be you’re just too stuck in repetitive thinking about this topic. One way to break out of your old patterns of thinking and generate new ideas is to take in very random stimulus and try to apply it to the solution. You might randomly open a dictionary (or any book), point your finger somewhere on the page and see if you can take that work or phrase and use it in the solution somehow. So what if it’s ridiculous! Write it down. It’s stretching your thinking and helping you transition into that really creative way of thinking. You can also do this by flipping channels, flipping pages of a magazine, finding ‘objects’ in clouds, or visiting a toy store or museum.
Take this process to the next level in conjunction with the concepts in my post “Do Something Extraordinary Before Breakfast Every Day”.
Now, what areas of your life do you need some creative breakthroughs in? Do you need more romance? A great product idea? New affordable social activities? New ways to trim your budget? A new look? The time to take action is now. Share the question you’re going to brainstorm in the comments!
If you’ve got any additional strategies for increasing your creativity, please share those with us in the comments.