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Friday, April 19, 2013

How to Be More Creative?


Whenever we talk about creativity and innovation, we normally think of geniuses. We all have grown up with the concept: there is a bunch of individuals in our society, who are really smart. They are able to come up with ideas that most others are not able to come up.
Somehow these geniuses whip up ideas which seem to be right out of other galaxies for the rest of the lay persons like us. Somehow the few of us posses uncanny ability to think up ideas which are really hard for the rest of us to think of.

Is that the reality? No doubt, there are many geniuses on earth. These are really smart imaginative individuals who have outstanding thinking and imaginative abilities. There is absolutely no doubt about the fact. Geniuses definitely exist.
But do we have to be among those few to be really creative and come up with innovations? If you have tried to study the creative process broadly you will eventually realize that the born genius is just the part of the picture.

Of course, many people have realized, it's not only the genes, hard work equally matters. Even with minimum luck on your side, hard work will trump anything else.
So let's say I'm not one of those born geniuses and I can't seem to be able to come up with creative ideas. Given that, how can I improve my creativeness?

The answer seems to lie here; Take action. Action seems to be the key, which many of us lack and we end up wrongfully attributing our inability to action to our inability to be creative.
Indeed, we need self-discipline to start action and we need self-discipline and determination to keep us going and not give up. We not only have to start taking action, but we have to keep taking action in spite of all the setbacks and problems that we may face.

But at the core, lies the following simple process that will improve your creativity.
Lets say you can't think of something cool. But can you think of something mundane? As per your own evaluation? Lets assume you are able to think of something simple. If you can't think of anything, you are stuck. Nobody can help you there. But if you can think of at least something. Help is there.

Next crucial step, is execution or implementation. Implement that simple idea. Do it. Even if it is the most ridiculous idea in the world, have some faith and courage and just do it.
Next step is to get feedback. When I said, implement your idea, it usually means you put your idea out to others. That would make it easy for you to get feedback.

Here lies another issue. We are afraid of negative feedback. Psychologists have found that the pain from the fear of the failure, is much worse than pain of actual failure. Go figure!!
The way our mind works, it's just too good at creating a perceived fear of the failure. There are several mechanisms at play here. We can't go into all the details. But I'll point you to one example.
We tend to overestimate how much others judge us. When you are walking by in a crowded street, you are likely thinking a lot about how others are perceiving you. That would greatly dictate, how you walk and how you express yourself etc.

But guess what, others are busy thinking along the same line! They are equally busy thinking that others are watching them. Given this, nobody gives a damn about you! But you are unnecessarily very much burdened by this imaginary process, at least psychologically.
Here we go. We have irrational fear of negative feedback. We just need to shake it off. Don't let it stop you from taking action, even if it is a simple action. Take action and get feedback. Feedback is very likely going to be bad. Just prepare yourself.
No wonder there is famous saying that, "Always hope for the best, but prepare for the worst". Be ready to get negative feedback.

Here we face yet another pitfall. Despite all the rationale about preparing for worst etc. At the end of the day, we just can't easily take negative feedback. Some of us are inherently good at it and they succeed fast. But most of us just wallow in the negative feedback, no matter how much rationally it may make sense.

There are techniques out there to help you out, whereby you can control your emotional self better and can take negative feedback easily. We'll talk about those at detail in other articles.
Assuming you've taken the initiative and taken the simple action you could think of. Assuming you have prepared yourself and are not so bad at taking negative feedback. Now what do you do?
Never get feedback from friends and family. They will give you biased feedback to not let you down. It will be difficult, but you have to get it from someone you can trust to give you honest feedback, or it has to be a stranger.

Try to get feedback from more than one source. Is there a common theme? If there is, you have the next step already defined for you. They may say "what you are doing is good and here is what you should do next".

It is important that when you seek feedback, you frame your question such that you get a measurable answer. You ask them to give thumbs up or thumbs down and you should make sure you ask them to give you feedback about what to do differently.

If there is consensus feedback, you know what to do next. If there is no consensus. You have to go back to table and think of what is the next simple idea that comes to your mind that is different.
Don't make the mistake of repeating the same thing over and over and hoping to get different outcome. That is a sign of stupidity as per Einstein's famous saying.

Key is to try something different. Simple and different. Doesn't have to be fancy. Take action. Seek feedback. Keep repeating this process. Never stop and keep iterating on this process and I guarantee that you will find yourself more creative and more innovative in no time.
You have to realize that I may have simplified some of the ideas here for sake of keeping the length of this article. But I hope you get the gist of the article.

Take simple action. Solicit feedback. Frame your feedback questions such that you get quantifiable answers. If something didn't work, next step should be to do something different. Keep repeating the process until you reach where you want to be.

That is how you can be more creative and more innovative.
Mestipen Casamir is a writer with expertise in human psychology and personal development. You can check out his latest website No More Chances, where he provides details, reviews and advice about how to achieve success and how to live a better fulfilling life.
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