Creativity comes from the same motherlode as passion.
You need creativity to constantly reinvent yourself in your work to “fit the future.” (My friend John could share a story about that, as the market for transportation engineers collapsed amid the construction bust.)
You need creativity to better persuade your listeners of the value of your ideas. And you need it beyond the initial stage of “groupthink,” when you are executing and unforeseen problems arise.
Creativity is the number one leadership quality sought by CEOs
Sandy Carter, VP of Social Business Evangelism and Sales at IBM, explained how dramatically creativity stood out as a technique for leadership, at a forum for C-suite executives:
“IBM conducted a study based on face-to-face conversations with more than 1,500 chief executive officers worldwide and these CEOs identified ‘creativity’ as the single most important leadership quality. Standouts practice and encourage experimentation and innovation throughout their organizations. Creative leaders expect to make deeper business model changes to realize their strategies. To succeed, they take more calculated risks, find new ideas, and keep innovating in how they lead and communicate.”
And it goes without saying, if you are job hunting, you need creativity just to break away from the pack.
Many kinds of intelligence and a smorgasbord of creative activities
The theory of multiple intelligence is widely known, but as a refresher, it states that everyone has strong suits and innate propensities.
This is a list of kinds of intelligence, with sample activities:
- Verbal/Linguistic (likes lectures, storytelling, journal writing)
- Logical/Mathematical (likes mental calculations, brain teasers, science experiments)
- Visual/Spatial (likes art activities, mind-mapping, visualization)
- Body/Kinesthetic (likes drama, dance, and hands-on learning)
- Musical/Rhythmic (likes rapping, using the voice rhythmically, songs that teach)
- Interpersonal (likes cooperative learning, peer tutoring, simulations)
- Intra-personal (likes individualized instruction, independent study, self-esteem building)
Take time to explore your creative side on a regular basis, well before you get to a moment of brain freeze. Some suggestions:
- Join a spelling bee team and exercise your mind by mastering word lists.
- Explore toondoo.com and create cartoons for free.
- Investigate xtranormal to animate videos. With separate business and education accounts, the movie you create can be embedded into your website or used for classroom exercises.
- Join a square dancing club, especially if you live in or around MIT or Boston. Did you know there are 1,000 different “calls” that expert square dancers commit to memory and perform on cue? (With 300 calls, you can still be an agile novice!)
- Throw a party with a theme. Make the decorations yourself using craft handbooks as a guide, or the bazilion websites that suggest invitations/menu planning/games based on a theme.
- Join a comedy improv troupe and get into the groove of hilarious interpersonal intelligence. These local clubs may not perform; it’s just for yuks.
- Explore your local chapter of Destination ImagiNation (DI) and consider volunteering as a Co-Team Captain or attending a regional tournament (held in numerous states across the US and even internationally). DI is a nonprofit that aims to teach youth about collaboration, problem-solving, and creativity. Their “Instant Challenges” are a gold mine, as are the solutions to more complex months-long challenges presented by teams competing at tournaments. (You can download pdfs of sample Instant Challenges on the right hand bar of this page:http://www.idodi.org/index.php/2011-12-season/instant-challenges). I guarantee you won’t be the same stuck person after devoting time to this fantastic organization. I know I wasn’t.
- Start chalking sidewalks; this artist delighted his entire neighborhood.
- Play an online game called Foldit where you solve puzzles for science. One particular puzzle that asked users to fold proteins attracted 57,000 participants, and in 3 weeks solved a question that made an effective contribution to medication development.
- Order the game Scattergories and play it (offline, in your living room) with your family or friends.
- Surf skyscraperpage.com and delve into the architectural plans for this global collection of skyscrapers.
The more you do this stuff, the better you get. Juicing your mind brings on your mojo.
Fuel your creativity just as Pixar and other Oscar powerhouses do
Certain industries such as advertising and entertainment are known for creativity, so Mojo40 mined two of their best, for tips.
Liz Murphy is an advertising Creative Director whose work for HealthPlus-NY appears on buses, billboards, and subways throughout New York City. Despite print magazine awards and freelance gigs at numerous top ad agencies, even she hits the wall from time-to-time. When Liz has to burst through a block:
“I’ll go out and have fun socially then come up with a design solution at the last moment and execute it with zeal. The hardest work is the thinking not the doing and my first execution is usually the best one.”
To promote idea-generation, she suggests “dig deep, research, stay technologically updated, work even harder and most importantly, keep the faith.”
Laurence Holzman, a lyricist and librettist for musical theater at regional venues and Off-Broadway, says creativity comes from the process of collaboration itself.
Laurence works with his collaborator Felicia Needleman to toss around ideas on every aspect of the story and script, and then the material gets further refined until it gels. He explains how to be creative:
“If we come up against a wall in production, we might turn to the director or an actor and say this isn’t working, what do you think the character would do here? And often, that leads to writing a new song. The composer, costume designer, choreographer and set designer all bring their creativity to the process and that helps us re-think. Especially in musical theater, all fields working together bring out the most creative ideas.”
- Decide what kind of intelligence best matches you and do one thing this week to stimulate your creativity. Do it again next week and the week after. Creativity does not come from a single jaunt.
- Get on the steering committee for your firm’s next quarterly pow-wow. Advocate to incorporate a theme at that event, and set up a process to creatively weave in that theme.
- Get familiar with TED.com, an event producer and web resource that focuses on Technology, Entertainment, and Design, and seeks to spread the best ideas. Although conferences cost $7,500 to attend, they frequently sell out. You can gain nearly the same insight at home by watching the videos. Go to the site, search on ‘creativity’, pick the speaker and topic, and enjoy.
Photos courtesy of Creative Commons 2.0, hlkjgk and fotologic.
Do you agree that creativity is essential to doing anything well?
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