Even if you don’t think you’re the “creative type,” don’t assume you can ignore this skillset, or that you can’t become creative too.
60% of CEOs polled by IBM agreed that creativity was the most important skill to possess in a leadership role, because it can help you solve problems and respond to challenges. Take if from the CEO of a wealth management firm — the ability to think outside the box helps in even the most seemingly un-creative and numbers-based fields.
The truth is that the seeds of creativity live in everyone, but our daily habits can either nurture or constrain them.
Here are 7 daily habits that will ignite your imagination and encourage your mind to think outside the box:
Even creative people need a schedule
It’s a gigantic misconception that creative people need to live wild and unstructured lives.
That might work for a one-in-a-million rock star, but most creative minds schedule their days quite thoroughly. Stephen King, for instance, has attributed his 350 million+ in book sales to his intense writing routine.
Psychologist William James described the impact of a rigorous schedule on creativity by saying that this can “free our minds to advance to really interesting fields of action.”
I’m not saying that you should hole up in your office the entire day, but you do need to pencil in the time for creativity daily. For starters, consider setting your own innovation schedule by spending 20 minutes daily on creative thinking.
Creativity is contagious
Albert Einstein once said, “Creativity is contagious. Pass it on.”
And science backs him up that creativity spreads like the common cold, especially if you’re a leader.
It might seem scary at first, but you need to expose yourself creatively. Ask a co-worker for feedback on your new ideas. If you’re a business owner, set up team meetings to debate creative projects. Even though feedback can be painful (especially on something personal and artistic) it can propel you and your team’s creativity to new heights.
Why do you think Google employees are encouraged to play beach volleyball and go bowling while on the clock? It’s been proven that having fun engages the creative side of the brain. Additionally, “play” can decrease stress levels, increase optimism, boost motivation and improve overall concentration.
It might seem silly and counter-productive, but play and be spontaneous daily, especially if you’re in a rut. Creativity aside, it’s always important to make the time for fun.
A lot of evidence points to the many benefits that exercise, particularly in natural settings, has on creativity. In a recent Stanford study, research showed that people were dramatically more creative after physical movement outside.
It’s the same reason why leaders like Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey regularly hold walking meetings. To rekindle your inner genius, consider jogging in the morning or eating lunch away from the desk. Better yet, take the whole team outside. Your body and mind will thank you for it.
Act like a little kid
Much of our creativity stems from the ability to see things through an outsider’s perspective. And studies have found that a perfect way to unleash new perspectives is by acting like a toddler (minus the tantrums).
Especially in a guideline-ridden workplace, it can seem like there’s nothing under the sun that can be improved upon. Quite simply, by acting like everything is new, and questioning everything, you’ll come up with the most unexpected insights, even during run-of-the-mill workdays.
Daydream as much as possible
What was I saying? Oh, right. We tend to gather a more creative approach to problems when our mind is free, and neuroscience points to daydreaming as the perfect solution. So don’t worry about zoning out for a few minutes. Though it may seem counterintuitive at the time, allowing your mind to wander actually boosts your creativity and can even help your memory. So, if you’re feeling stumped, let yourself space out for a few moments rather than trying to force yourself to focus.
And finally, let go of the idea of “perfection”
Edwin Land, co-founder of Polaroid, once said, “The essential part of creativity is not being afraid to fail.”
And it’s been proven that stress is a well-known creativity killer. So let go of perfection and realize that creativity is an ongoing process. I’m not saying you should deliver sloppy work, but you need to realize that every prolific artist has dealt with plenty of failure in their life.
Knowing that you are doing things as best you can removes any barriers that may hinder creative ideas. Hold back on criticizing yourself and rather learn to accept any downfalls or mistakes. By removing any unrealistic expectations you remove the potential for anxiety, which can greatly cloud the brain.
Your takeaway from all of this? Get intentional about creativity if you want it to flourish.
As Maya Angelou once said, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
Elle Kaplan is the CEO and Founder of LexION Capital. Learn more about her company here, or leave a comment below to share your creativity tips with her!
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Originally published at medium.com