Everyone is capable of being creative! We all have our imprint that makes everything we create unique to us and those around us. Robyn M. Bolton, fellow WBE and Founder and Chief Navigator of MileZero, gives insights on a powerful process that gets our creative juices flowing! Follow these tips and tricks to optimize your creativity.
You are creative.
How did you react to that sentence?
If your reaction was, “No, I’m not!” then you’re not alone. Nearly 60% of people worldwide believe they are not creative, and almost 70% think they have not realized their creative potential.
But that’s because we usually think of creativity as painting, literature, dance, and other arts. At its core, “creativity” is significantly more inclusive. It’s the generation of new and useful ideas, usually by connecting knowledge in new ways.
In this context, it’s easy to understand why creativity was rated the #1 most important leadership quality needed for success, outranking integrity and global thinking. 
Creativity is the fuel enabling problem-solving, productivity, and innovation.
It is also a skill you can build, strengthen, and teach.
In my work helping companies become more creative and innovative, we do three key things.
First, create space for creativity.
Like learning a new language, getting in shape, or meditating, you need to practice your new skill daily. Start by carving out time each day, even 5 minutes, to practice being creative.
As a leader, in addition to explaining creativity’s importance, you must show your team that it’s ok to spend 5 minutes staring out the window, taking a walk, or chatting with someone new. People will worry about being perceived as “goofing off” until they see you taking the time to practice creativity and hear you talk about its impact on how you think and lead.
Second, fuel your creativity.
Remember, creativity is about gathering information, connecting information in new ways, and using those connections to generate new ideas. So, anything that contributes to one of those activities inspires creativity. For example:
- Go for a short walk, notice and wonder about the things you walk by
- Pick two items on your desk and combine them into something useful
- Draw doodles, squiggly lines, and shapes on a post-it note until the whole note is covered
Third, practice creative problem-solving with your team.
As lovely as walking, imagining new products, and doodling can be, it can be challenging to see its impact on how we think and lead. For this reason, finding opportunities to practice and apply your creativity to a real business problem is essential.
Here are the three most effective exercises I use:
- Bad Idea Bonanza –Unlike most brainstorming sessions, the goal isn’t to find a feasible solution to a problem. It’s to find the most outlandish, impossible, and silly idea. Within 5-10 minutes, laughter will fill the room, and in 20 minutes, you’ll have lots of ideas, including some surprisingly good ones!
- Crazy Constraints – Innovation thrives within constraints because constraints require creative thinking. So start your problem-solving process with questions that impose strict limits on possible solutions – How would you solve this if:
- You only had 15 minutes?
- You had to do this all by yourself?
- You could only spend $100?
- Let It Lie – When we see something broken, our instinct is to fix it. But what happens if we resist that instinct and let it stay broken? As a team, develop several scenarios – things get better, things remain the same, things get worse – in which the problem persists.
To be creative, you don’t need to be Georgia O’Keefe, Virginia Woolf, or Misty Copeland. You already ARE creative and have the power to inspire creativity in others.
So, take action because the world (and your business) needs you!