Creativity starts with curiosity.
It stretches with raw data into new patterns.
Sees random chunks of meaning in mess.
And builds eye-popping solutions with the right approach.
But … If you don’t believe you’re creative … it’s time to flip this mindset.
As Henry Ford said: “If you think you can, or think you can’t — you’re right”.
Are you facing these challenges:
>> Wrestling with a problem that won’t budge?
>> Feeling stuck in a job that’s going nowhere?
>> Hearing the same tired story etch deeper in your DNA?
Then it’s time to get curious and ‘see’ from a five-year-old’s perspective.
Because that’s where all creative people start.
What you think you know stops you seeing what is.
Getting creative is about opening your mind to different views and new possibilities.
And the sticking point of not coming from a creative perspective is this: Most people live in ruts that end up feeling like graves.
Time to take action?
“It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes
Solving problems starts with a solid source of rough and raw material.
Why? Because nothing comes from (or happens) in a void.
Creative insights don’t come from blank canvases, blank pieces of paper, blank wall charts or a blank face.
Seeing in new ways helps you gather original raw material. It helps you notice what’s right in front of you — but from a fresh perspective.
Raw material is fodder for break-out ideas, break-through thinking and can help you break-free of problems weighing you down.
If you do create from a void you’ll end up switching to a fixed mindset. This sets up barriers, not break them down. It squashes your innovation switch. It can leave you meandering down a perilous path of feeling like you’ve failed again before you’ve even taking one step.
Solving any problem begins by noticing the vibrancy around you. It’s about building observation and ‘looking’ — as if for the first time. This is where the raw material for original thinking comes from.
Einstein said, ‘ We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them’.
Up-levelling your thinking and approach to problems starts with your attitude. Seeing yourself and your world as ordinary and repetitive numbs your senses and buries your creativity.
As a child needs a creative environment to thrive, so does an adult.
Get started with this one simple thought:
Believe you’re living in the richest and most vibrant of times (which you are).
>> Seek the novel.
>> Search for the extraordinary.
>> Enjoy the ridiculous zany things happening every day.
>> Be curious about what’s around you.
>> Embrace a zesty and inspirative life.
If you seek to find the new in the old, you will.
If you seek to find the old, you will.
Instead of looking at a building (or artwork, or person) from a single dimension, see it in relationship to its environment.
Like the silhouette a building casts against a skyline. The way it nudges up to another form. How it teases you to see its interior through slabs of tilted glass and reflective material.
>> See with all your senses.
>> Imagine the voice it could have if able to speak.
>> Experience a virtual interior tour of it in your mind’s eye.
>> Mind-zoom into spaces and feel how they connect or disconnect people.
Aim to see the person in their totality.
>> In all environments— at work, home or in a social setting. Get a fuller perspective of the person. Visualise the challenges he’s facing, and the person he’s choosing to be in each of these environments.
>> Be curious about her values — the non-negotiables that straighten her back so you feel her resolve.
>> Reflect on his identity — how does he want others to see him? What mirror is he hiding behind? What reflection does he want others to see?
Seeing people from a dissociated state lets you glimpse their total being. Your view of a person narrows if only seeing them in moments of anger, frustration, sorrow, envy or jealousy.
And when you see their humanity, you see their vulnerability. Not as if they’re joined at the hip with the problem.
Seeing in this way asks you to separate problem from person. The problem sits between you. You are not the problem. The other person is not the problem. The problem has an identity of its own. You both have a relationship with the problem.
This changes the dynamic.
And with this, releases tension. It eases your mind and body. If your body holds tension, it drenches you in adrenaline which needs releasing.
In modern society ‘letting off steam’ (in the way your body needs) isn’t smiled upon — especially in the work place.
Waiting to practice this technique of releasing when you’re in a high emotional state won’t work.
It’s best to feel how to dissociate from a problem when the problem is small. It’s more do-able and is the smart way of building a new skill.
Try this: ‘See’ the check-out attendant when you buy groceries. The one whose thoughts are far away from the ho-hum role played in his day-to-day work.
‘See’ the boss who’s overwhelmed by a deadline and pressuring you or your colleagues.
From the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, comes invented words and definitions aiming to fill a hole in our language.
These words express the inexpressible feelings we each have, yet can never quite grasp and form into words.
SONDER, n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own.
Imagine seeing the world from a ‘sonder’ state.
How could this change your perspective?
Creative thinking isn’t about seeing what is. It’s about seeing your world in relationship to things around it.
This is where the ‘sonder’ of creativity lays.
Creative thinking can feel as if you’re bombarded with stimulation, ideas and possibilities. In the beginning it can feel a little ‘out of control’.
If this happens, you’re on the right path.
Once the messiness is in full swing, your mind can free itself of any fast solutions. If your brain’s been primed to fix problems on the go, then retraining it to use a creative process will help you switch gears.
At times, fast answers can be the intuitive and right response. Yet, it’s worthwhile knowing how to see problems from different perspectives.
So get comfortable with mess.
Write in your journal. Describe the problem in explicit detail. (Not the other person — the problem.)
When finished, let it rest. You’ll come back to this later.
Next, look around your environment. What could be a ‘metaphor’ for this problem?
For example: worms eating apples on an apple tree. You may relate this to someone else taking credit for your work.
Draw the metaphor (or photograph it) and put it in your journal.
Find as many metaphors for the problem as your can.
Here you’ll be breaking down the parts of the problem into small cells. Like the wax cells of a beehive. Those interconnecting shapes that form the whole.
Take a large sheet of paper and draw large inter-connected shapes — aim to fit about 12 cell-shapes onto an A3 piece of paper. Use a second or third sheet if needed.
Write aspects of the problem in each cell — do this fast — don’t overthink.
Use no more than 3–5 words per cell — keep it succinct and clear.
Now grab a pair of scissors and cut out the cells.
Next, place the cells randomly on your desk, floor or stick them to a wall.
Here comes the sorting stage.
This is where all those puzzle-solving skills you learnt as a kid kick in. It’s in the physical sorting that your conscious mind seeks logical solutions. While it’s busy moving things around your unconscious mind is sorting from a more intuitive space.
Your ‘unconscious’ mind is the home of your imagination and the root of your creativity.
Your mind receives masses of raw material from your environment every day. During sleep it’s sorted.
Some material will go into your long-term memory as useful to recall. Other material will disappear into a black hole as there’s nothing to hook it to. And the rest will be distorted and generalised to fit into a pre-existing schema of ‘how things should be’.
This stage of problem solving is about remaining flexible. Shuffling the pieces of data around. Finding links and making connections to other pieces. Seeing how things could ‘fit’ together in new ways.
Don’t seek answers too fast. Go slow.
Sit with the process. Patterns emerge when you least expect. And often when your brain tires from the work of ‘thinking’.
Creativity is an iterative process. So take a break. Later, have another go at re-arranging your raw data into chunks of meaning.
>> What cells link together in a natural way?
>> What seems to jarre when you place one cell next to another?
>> What connections could you be missing?
Now come up with a title for each ‘cell chunk’ you’ve created.
Make the title representative of the group (or chunk).
Take your time. Re-name if needed.
Re-sort the cells and names if needed.
Place the title and the cell-chunk together.
This is where the play element comes in.
“The truth is that play seems to be one of the most advanced methods nature has invented to allow a complex brain to create itself.”
― Stuart Brown, Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul
Take the titles you’ve created and see how they relate to the challenge you’re facing.
You may or may not feel insights emerging. No need to rush the process. Slow is good.
If needed, return to the data and re-sort and re-arrange. Ask questions. Gain different perspectives from others.
The longer you take, the more clear the insight arising from this process. This is about ‘working with’ not ‘fixing’. It’s about discovery. It’s about seeing the presenting problem as possibly part of something even bigger … perhaps something you’ve been missing because of tunnel vision.
If you have a large wall — display your material. Let your mind wander over it. Consider what you’ve come to know so far about the problem.
Seek insights and they’ll appear. Trust yourself. Trust the process.
Throughout this process, reflection gives a deeper level of engagement and processing.
Keep a thought-journal. Use it every day. Note down ideas and insights.
Reflect each morning on how you want to be. Plan your day from this perspective.
Your subconscious mind is always working and filtering the raw material you’re absorbing.
>> Chunks will form, break apart and re-form.
>> Insights will emerge, then become deeper knowings.
>> Your awareness will increase.
>> Your empathy for the problem and the person will shift.
>> Your mindset will move.
This process helps you become more present. More grounded. It offers you an explorative journey into how creativity works.
Need to re-focus, re-align or kick-start your life goals? Then get hold of my daily living checklist so you can find your inner ‘sweet spot’ and enjoy more success-filled days.
Originally published at startupsventurecapital.com