Get creative: How to find your creative spark
There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns.
— Edward de Bono
So how is creativity defined?
“Creativity is a combinatorial force: it’s our ability to tap into our inner pool of resources – knowledge, insight, information, inspiration and all the fragments populating our minds – that we’ve accumulated over the years just by being present and alive and awake to the world and to combine them in extraordinary new ways.” — Maria Popova, Brainpickings
Why does creativity matter in business?
Creativity is important in business, not just more traditional hard skills like finance or computer skills. It’s important we recognize the value of creativity.
“In one recent survey of 1,500 CEOs, creativity was identified as the most important skill for the future. So perceptions about it have a strong influence on who advances and who doesn’t.” HBR
Thriving in the Conceptual Age.
Professional success and personal fulfillment today requires a whole new mind, why right-brainers will rule the future. Creative thinking will be key to our ability to compete in a global market.
We are moving from an economy and a society built on the logical, linear, computer like capabilities of the Information Age to an economy and a society built on the inventive, empathic, big-picture capabilities of what’s rising in its place, the Conceptual Age. Design. Story. Symphony. Empathy. Play. Meaning. These six senses increasingly will guide our lives and shape our world.
— Daniel H. Pink
Humans are naturally more drawn to aesthetics, hence, the individual/organization that perfectly employs creative design to its offerings gains an additional advantage. Humans don’t settle for barely results anymore because now they are availed with vast options to choose from, we now give attention to appearance and design because that too effuses a message.
But is being creative an equal playing field?
Research suggests that perceptions of creativity, according to gender bias, contribute to patterns of less income and fewer women in positions of leadership.
Research by the music industry says female artists are more creative than men, and yet, we still treat womxn’s creativity differently, holding womxn back at work. So why is more is expected of female creativity?
Essentially, women do not have a creativity problem, they have a perception bias problem, and it’s creating a vicious cycle for female creatives.
How our perception of creativity is all wrong.
Devon Proudfoot, a PhD candidate at Duke, and her colleagues Aaron Kay and Christy Koval performed several studies of gender bias and creativity, “our studies suggest that the reason men are seen as more creative is a belief that it takes autonomy, independence, and thinking that diverges from the status quo,“masculine” traits, vs. “feminine” traits, such as cooperativeness and sensitivity.” Proudfoot
So how have we come to associate these things with creativity in the first place?
We have it all wrong, our research wasn’t focused on the origins. It was also done with American participants only. So we’re really looking at a specific cultural interpretation of creativity. But my intuition tells me that we live in a very individualistic culture that emphasizes being independent as a way to achieve. And we associate innovation with autonomy, says Proudfoot to HBR
Importance of creativity in ourselves.
When we use creativity, it opens up possibilities and options not yet explored. Creativity bridges the gaps which allow us to connect.
— Dayle Bennett
If you want to make it big in business, doing what everyone else is doing won’t work. That’s why women in the business world should find ways to be creative – even if just to blow off stress – on a daily basis
How do we become more creative?
The most challenging barriers inhibiting womxn from reaching their “innovation potential” are free time, access to education and access to finance
— Diplomatic Courier
If we were to find a silver lining from the pandemic, it allowed, for a period of time, for creativity to blossom, with fewer distractions and increased downtime, some found creative fuel in the chaos of the times.
There are many different ways bring more creativity into our lives
CHANGE UP YOUR ENVIRONMENT TO NURTURE CREATIVE IDEAS
No, that doesn’t just mean move your laptop to the kitchen. Get away from your computer entirely, creative ideas don’t always come best when you’re staring at a glowing screen, go for a walk or run, doodle, sketch, draw, brainstorm or just play around with post-it notes.
PLAY AS WORK
Children have an amazing capacity to solve problems, their minds are not trapped in the way adults’ minds are, as adults we don’t stop playing because we don’t find it fun or amusing anymore, we stop playing because we develop fear, a fear of not knowing. What would happen to our minds, if we continued to learn through play? What are we missing out on by learning to drift away from our inner child?
Brendan Boyle, a partner at the design firm, IDEO, says play in the workplace has a “PR problem. Some think of play is frivolous – a distraction, or worse, a waste of time.
Research has found evidence that play at work is linked with less fatigue, boredom, stress, and burnout in individual workers. Play is also positively associated with job satisfaction, sense of competence, and creativity.
SHHHHH. BE STILL TO BRING FORTH NEW IDEAS
Busy does not equate with being productive. Give yourself permission to daydream for a few minutes each day.
SHHHHH. BE STILL TO BRING FORTH NEW IDEAS
In business we have a tendency to overcomplicate things, we either don’t have sound processes in the first place and do everything in a manual, ad hoc way or we’re continually breaking our own rules which waste not only our time and resources but also our precious headspace taking away from our ability to be creative.
Decision Fatigue Kills Creativity
— Minette Riordan, Ph.D.
How to streamline your business systems and processes:
- Awareness around time-wasters: Start with awareness, there are many great apps to show you how you are wasting your time.
- Analyze for breakdowns in your systems: Once you know where your time is going analyze it more closely. Look for things like any abating motivation, unclear instruction, or communication breakdown. Identify things that are or might affect the effectiveness of your existing process or workflow.
- Simplify your processes: Make the process simple and clear and remove steps where there are too many and remove as many decision points for yourself as possible.
- Rank projects in order of importance: Once you’ve done this, rank everything you do on the basis of importance. Also have some set criteria to measure against, for example, Is it aligned with my key business goals? does it make me money, (value vs. time spent) does it bring me joy?
- Document your processes: Make sure you document every single process. You will never remember all the details yourself and it will make it near impossible to delegate things if you don’t write them down.
- Automate your systems: It’s no secret that the process of getting a project/task delivered is prone to data errors and miscommunication. Take advantage of all the great project management tools out there such as Flowdesk, Dubsado, Honeybook, Asana, Trello, ClickUp, Monday, Notion, Calendly, Tailwind. Tip: many of them have free versions to get you started.
- Use the power of sleep to build your creativity: Sleep deprivation killing creativity at work, say neuroscientists.
Sleep deprivation kills creativity, it sinks startups every day and is a problem at most large creative organizations that ask us for help. Creativity needs a rested mind if it is to flourish. Sleep improves memory and helps us make connections. Taking a 20-minute nap or simply going offline for a short period of time each day provides the brain with vital breathing space and time to reinterpret problems.
— Dr. Jacqui Grey, MD, Neuroleadership Institute, Maximising Your Brain
Our Members at The Lola are inspiring others inside our Members platform by sharing what creativity looks like for them, how they are creating space for it and building it into their schedules. They are also asking for support around the creative pursuits that want to take up or better master. Want to join them or learn more? Visit the-lola.com and check out our Membership options.