Bringing out your Latent Creativity
At The XD Agency, our team of creative thinkers spans job functions from finance to, well, creative. Because we believe a creative spirit can make every single one of us better at our jobs (and better company, too).
Don’t fancy yourself a creative thinker? Or feeling in need of some inspiration? Consider the ideas below to bring out your latent creativity today.
Read Creative Confidence. This book, by the visionary founders of IDEO, is rich in stories and strategies alike. You’ll enjoy reading it, but if you make the effort to put it use, you’ll strengthen your creative muscles and exponentially improve your problem-solving abilities, too. Short on time? Check out IDEO U’s podcast or the TED Talk of the same name, both of which are rich in actionable content rooted in IDEO’s approach to design thinking.
Surround yourself with creative people. Note that I didn’t say “creatives” – just “creative people.” That is to say, people who are natural innovators, question-askers, and believers in new ways of thinking. People who are explorers and idea-chasers. People whose support will encourage you to believe in your ideas – and whose viewpoints, experiences, and creativity can help inspire your own.
Allow for spontaneity. I’m a planner. But sometimes the most unforgettable ideas are impromptu ones. As Adam Grant writes in Originals, Martin Luther King never even planned to talk about a dream in his most famous speech. But his favorite gospel singer twice shouted out “Tell ’em about the dream, Martin!” — and so he pushed aside his notes to go with it. The rest is, as they say, history. So take a cue from MLK, and yes, plan, but also leave enough room for improvisation. It’s the root of quite a bit of creativity.
Pick up The Art of Noticing. This book by Rob Walker comprises 131 exercises to help you get more attuned to the world around you — in turn sparking your own imagination. They’re actionable, playful, and will bring out creativity and happiness alike.
Don’t knock boredom. As Cal Newport outlines in Deep Work, most of us are so reluctant to be bored that we, out of habit, tap our smartphones when there’s even the shortest pause in stimulation. But we shouldn’t. Challenge yourself to wait in that grocery line without swiping through social media, and you’ll quickly discover that your mind shifts to a creative space. You prime yourself to start noticing things.
Attend Creative Mornings. “Everyone is creative” reads the opening of the Creative Mornings manifesto. These free monthly events, held in cities worldwide, are destined to help bring out your own creative spirit. Can’t make it to one of the lectures? At the very least, follow Tina Roth Eisenberg, aka Swiss Miss, on social media. The Creative Mornings founder is an ever-renewing source of creative inspiration.
Put pencil to paper. That was not “put fingertips to keyboard.” We think differently when we’re making something physical. So sketch your idea to help you bring it to life. Or write your way to a brilliant idea. The results can be surprising.
Get moving. Can’t quite pinpoint an idea you’re circling? Hit the gym. Or go for a run. Do something physical to get out of your own head. Immediately, the activity makes room for clarity and creativity. And over the long haul, it’s no accident that those who exercise demonstrate better divergent and convergent thinking.
And get your ideas moving, too. When you think, “What if…?” take it a step further and see. It’s easy to let self-doubt creep in when you’re just thinking. Instead, put your creative ideas into action. Experiment. Iterate. Learn.
Creativity is not a trait that we either have or don’t. It’s a skill that can be honed, a muscle that can be strengthened. And it’s worth the effort. By more actively using our imaginations and approaching tasks with an eye toward innovation, we can uncover problems we never knew existed and design the solutions to solve them — in business and beyond.
How do you bring out your latent creativity? We’d love to hear your ideas and try them out for ourselves.