There is a particular skill that 80% of us feel is critical to economic growth and 70% consider valuable to society in general. Most people feel it makes us better workers, leaders, parents and students.
Yet most people also believe this skill is stifled by the education system and that in the workplace they only use it 25% of the time (You can view the study here).
What is this amazing yet underutilized skill? Creativity.
You may have just cringed because the study also shows that only one out of three of us feel we are living up to our creative potential. Most people don’t see themselves as being creative.
But practicing and deploying creativity is essential to our effectiveness, our value and even our happiness.
Consider your work. With rapidly changing technology disrupting industries, one of the biggest workplace fears we have is uncertainty. Will you still have a job a year from now or will changes in your business, industry or economy make you obsolete?
If you want to not only survive but become indispensable at work, be more creative.
If you want to have a bigger impact on those around you, be more creative.
If you want more satisfaction and fulfillment in life, be more creative.
If you want to be influential, be more creative.
What is creativity?
We all have different ideas and perceptions about what it means to be creative. I define creativity as the skill to produce something new and valuable. It doesn’t even have to be new to the world, but new to you. Something you have never seen or thought of before.
Creativity has nothing to do with art, though great artists are creative. It has everything to do with breaking down your false beliefs and then following a deliberate creative process consistently and relentlessly.
Let’s examine the most common creativity mind blocks - self-deceptions and lizard brain resistance many people have around creativity.
Mind Block #1: You are either creative or you aren’t.
This is wrong on so many levels. Too many people view creativity as a talent, like the ability to play basketball at a high level. It’s not.
If you are human, you have the innate capacity to be creative. Don’t play the comparison game. We see creative output from others and lament that we could never do what they do. That’s true - you can’t. But you can create new ideas that they can’t because they don’t have your unique experiences and insight.
You have the ability to create new and wonderful solutions, ideas and things. Repeat that until your lizard brain understands it.
Mind Block #2: You don't have time to be creative.
What if you are overworked and can’t dedicate time to the creative process? Then incorporate time management methods to reduce distraction and make better use of your work time.
A simple Google search will reveal a plethora of great time management techniques and tools. Just a 5% increase in productivity will allow you to carve out 2 hours a week to develop and use your creative muscle.
Interestingly, creative solutions can often be time-saving and make you even more productive.
Mind Block #3: Creativity is not that important in my job. I am paid to be productive.
In reality, good creative work is highly valued, more so than compliant or “status quo” work.
Who would you rather have working for you, someone who improves the way you operate your business and helps spur innovation, or someone who only performs the minimal functions of their job description?
Mind Block #4: Lizard Brain Resistance
The lizard brain wants three things: food, sex and safety. It will resist your attempts to spend your internal resources (time and energy) on anything else.
Whenever you have the desire to break from the familiar status quo and create something new, the lizard will fight you. Its weapons are fear, procrastination, and distraction. You need to prepare for battle and overcome the resistance with a deliberate plan for doing creative work and the attitude that it is important no matter what the lizard brain will have you believe. (See my article on The Anti-boss).
Ready for action
Creative people don’t wait for inspiration to strike. They provide their brain with an environment that is conducive to creativity and they work hard to power through resistance and develop their creative skill. In my next post we will explore how to do that.
Think well and be well!
Want to learn more about improving your thinking and decision making?