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Connecting to Creativity in These Times of Change

Where do ideas for innovation come from?

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Creativity in These Times of Change

For the entrepreneur, being creative and innovating is essential in these pandemic times — especially when pivoting might be a necessity. I share some of my insights into creativity in my upcoming book: The Entrepreneur Journey; Strategic Blueprint for Market Domination

In The Entrepreneur Journey, I break down the entrepreneurship journey and eight manageable phases, from the moment of  innovation until commercialization. I only cover the “sensing phase” which is the first one in this article.

In the first chapter — the sensing chapter — I explore factors that result in barriers to creativity itself. The obstacles and barriers perhaps are more apparent, nowadays in the time of pandemic, Times that require us to be on top of quick changes in the creative process. 

Where do ideas for innovation come from? 

Our perception is that ideas are somehow lodged in our brains, just waiting to come out. Yet we speak of ideas “popping into” our heads, which resonates far more with me. Bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert (Gilbert, 2016) says “…it is as if ideas exist in another dimension and visit us. They come to us rather than from us.” 

Undoubtedly, the same idea knocks on many doors simultaneously. At  the same time that Darwin was working on his theory of natural selection, the naturalist, Alfred Russel Wallace, conceived of the same mechanism and described it in a paper.  

Gilbert continues, “What’s important is that we are receptive to the ideas that visit us — we need to hold on to them.”

In this scenario the person involved in the process is not so much the generator of an idea as the conduit that allows the idea to penetrate and to flourish. The process is one that I call “sensing.” Once we begin to follow the thought wherever it may lead us —  we’re moving into the “expressing” phase, which I’ll cover in the second chapter of my book. 

The Originator — The Innovator — The Artist

What the originator of the idea does is to acknowledge that an idea is not exclusively theirs — but an impression that has come to them. When the originator makes the process completely transparent, it is much easier to view the ideas critically and explore them comprehensively. No longer is the originator bound to guard their offering, jealousy, as the fruit of exclusively personal inspiration. 

To create the best opportunity for inspiration to be able to strike you personally, you need to prepare yourself to give the signals the best chance of getting through to your awareness. There are a number of factors that are obstacles to you —  preventing the clear “flow” of ideas from reaching you. 

Barriers to creativity 

You have heard people use the term “in the zone,” and you need to find your zone in order to be receptive to the right inspiration. The moment of inspiration is in effect a call to adventure, an opportunity to be seized with both hands and pursued energetically. 

Forces that block your ability to receive and respond to inspiration fall into three categories.

Body

If someone is preoccupied with pain or discomfort, they are less likely to be open to receiving ideas and allowing them to resonate. It follows that basic self-care, and looking after your body properly is necessary for your physical wellbeing. Careful, thoughtful self care will free you up for creativity. 

Mind 

Finding your ideal frame of mind to be receptive to ideas is something I call the “beginner mind.” A fragmented, frantic mind, distracted by swirling thoughts on different subjects, will interfere with your reception. 

The beginner must learn to quiet their mind. The mind needs to be clear, steady and “ready” to receive your creative ideas. Each person will want to fine-tune their “antenna” to be “live” to the signals relating to the area of inspiration. 

Practices such as meditation, walking out in nature and merely absorbing the sights and sounds around you will also do much good for your creative inspiration. 

Emotions

Strong emotions of unhappiness, or the “‘fight or flight” sympathetic response will cloud the mind and reduce your ability to be creative. Certainly, there are some incredible creatives who have conditioned themselves to perform under extreme pressure — such as piano performance, the ballet dancer, and athletes ready for the race or game. But, the inspiration we’re talking about here comes from a different sphere than those performers. 

Anger and anxiety can fuel inner fixations, blocking receptiveness and constructive thinking. Far better to cultivate flexibility in responding to your changing circumstances and expand your mind, rather than fruitlessly trying to resist what is happening inside of you.  

Whether you’re trying to make a pivot in your business in this time of change, or you’re a CEO wanting to promote greater innovation in your company — you need quiet introspective inspiration right now.

Managing relationships

Often the emotions we experience come into the light in relationships with the people around us. It’s important to understand how to maintain nurturing relationships and to set healthy boundaries. It’s essential to be wise in times that are less stable. Merely being quiet rather than contentious is beneficial to the creativity process. Seek professional help, if needed. But most individuals find it helpful to journal or blow off steam to a good listener who is a trusted, empathic friend. 

Internal judgments

Not all the stress you experience originates outside in the changing world. Your external world will likely just be your trigger. 

Your own internal pattern and beliefs come into play with your thoughts. One of the thought patterns that can hamper your progress in creating is the thought and stress of being overwhelmed. The glimpse of the final outcome of your inspiration can be daunting — even frightening. You can’t help but be aware of the immense amount of work needed to bridge the gap between the beginning and the end result — and how complicated it all is and how incapable you are. But, you have the ability to slow down.

The preferable way to respond to your overwhelming thoughts is to have confidence that once you have captured your idea, you need only focus on the immediate next step in the entrepreneur’s journey. The next step is called, “the expressing phase.” 

In respect to your creativity journey, you are like a writer or a poet. It’s vital to pin down every bit of inspiration you can, whether on paper or electronically. 

Whenever you’re in an environment likely to stimulate ideas, you should have on you, a way of capturing all thoughts quickly and permanently. Always carry a notebook and pen, or have a place in your phone that you can quickly type in your inspirations. Try to keep all of these notes in the same place. You can sort these out later.

I really enjoy using David Allen’s, GTD methodology, as described in his book Getting Things Done, as a way of maintaining and organizing my own stream of thoughts. But there are many incredible methods for keeping your thoughts straight and organized. 

I hope that you will manage to align to your inspiration and gather the creativity and the will power to overcome the current challenges, and perhaps view these challenging days as an opportunity to shift your perspective about life. 

My hope for you is that you will come out of these uncertain times stronger, happier and on a course that brings you joy and creative satisfaction for many years to come. 

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