Troubling times call for creative solutions
With all of the problems that have emerged in recent years, economic and otherwise, many of us find ourselves wringing our hands in trepidation. We wonder and ponder our way through the days moving into months, asking what it’s going to take to deal with the daunting global challenges and changes we face. Understandably, we worry even more about our personal prospects for security and success. What are we to do? What are we to think?
Before you instantly dismiss the following solution as a frivolous or overly simplified, please take another minute to consider the rationale behind it. Ready? Here it is. The single, overriding solution for so many of our problems lies in our ability to generate creative ideas. That’s it-period.
Consider that there are just so many resources in the ground, sea and air, but no limit to the number of fresh, innovative ideas human beings are capable of creating to better optimize those resources. Breakthrough, creative ideas on how to do all sorts of things better, faster, more efficiently and more profitably have always led us to new levels of achievement. On the surface, the suggestion may indeed sound like an oversimplification, but perhaps not when reminded of the old adage, “Easier said than done.”
Creativity – A highly misunderstood subject
Two words, “Our ability,” serve as key elements in my claim and its actual realization. To begin with, many of us see creative thinking ability as something only artists, musicians or writers possess. We question our own ability because the very subject of creativity remains shrouded in misunderstanding, myth and misconception. It may be safe to assume that no one knows this better than Dr. Teresa Amabile, head of the Entrepreneurial Management Unit at Harvard Business School. After years of extensive research on creativity, Dr. Amabile has identified six myths about the subject prevalent in our society. I won’t cite them all, but here’s one that fits this discussion well: “Creativity Comes from Creative Types.” The truth is that creativity and creative ideas can come from anyone.
Believe in your own ability
The first critical step in generating creative ideas requires a belief in your own natural capability. I could share with you all kinds of techniques for generating novel ideas, but if you don’t believe in your innate creative ability, you probably will never fully utilize any of those valuable tools. Unfortunately, many people hold the erroneous belief that they have few useful creative ideas to contribute. If you fall into this category, please don’t feel terribly guilty.
Our schools, as a rule, do not celebrate nor emphasize the importance of creativity as a useful tool for solving problems. In many instances, creativity has been educated out of us by omission. Our educational system still focuses primarily on reading, writing and ‘rithmetic, with little attention given to using one’s creative imagination as a tool for solving problems. I’m suggesting that we should all begin to expand our thinking about creativity and to accept it as a natural part of our intelligence.
What’s a person to do?
You may be asking, okay, what do I do to break out of this limiting attitude? Well, begin by simply buying into your own creative capacity. Start telling yourself and others that you have this capability and then imagine yourself thinking creatively, coming up with all sorts of great creative ideas. The point is to change your mindset. Certainly, you must dispel Dr. Amabile’s myth that only a small group of anointed creative types possesses the capacity to create novel ideas.
I have always been an advocate of the principle, “One small thing can make a great big difference.” So, begin contributing your creative ideas wherever you can even if not earth-shaking. In your company, school or agency, you may provide a small suggestion leading to greater efficiency or productivity. You may even spark an idea for a new product that fills some obvious need. You’ll never know until you try.
If you are a leader or manager, help create a culture where everyone’s ideas are valued. Encourage creative thinking in your organization by allowing everyone to contribute his or her ideas and suggestions. The time has come to put all of our creative ideas to work improving our lives.