You often hear the term “Creative Genius” when referring to an individual who has created something extraordinarily different. Whether it’s a new fashion line, cooking a meal a different way, designing an ad, or developing the next social network. It’s dynamite! It’s electric! It’s inspired! What ever your definition, you want it but you don’t think you have it. The first step in understanding a creative mind is knowing that you have the potential to have one.
Experiments show that 80% of children, before entering school, use their right brain skills such as creativity and imagination. Once in school, the programs used to educate children place a higher value on the left brain skills – such as mathematics, logic, and language. By age 7, only 10% of these same children will rank highly creative. By adulthood, only 2% remain highly creative.
Ask the right questions. Lets explore this 2%. What is creativity? To me creativity is exploring the possibilities of “what if”- what if I use a different color or font. What if I used a new flavor I never used before. What if I use a different shape- it’s asking yourself the right questions that expand your possibilities to solve daily problems while never allowing yourself to go down that dark road towards tunnel vision.
For example, lets take creating a website for a client. These are some questions that I may ask myself:
- What’s the trend for this industry?-its very important to see what the competition is doing and what the market trends are. Do some research.
- How can I make this stand out above the competition?
- How can I expand on the uniqueness of the product?
- What imagery could I use that would be catchy but yet represent the message?
- What layout could I create? Instead of laying out the website like the competition, try different ways to lay it out.
Don’t expect creative genius to happen with the first go around. There will be times you will need to go back to the drawing board and rethink, reshape, reposition things to make it work. The important thing is not to get discouraged; forge ahead and you will see the rewards.
The Future. Creativity is based on the premises that everything can and will continually get better. Making life more comfortable, efficient, and exciting. Creative minds are constantly following market trends trying to see what direction it will take. By doing this it puts you ahead of the creative game.
Progression. Webster defines it as gradual advancement, moving forward and onward. Creative minds always have the mind set of always moving forward. Always looking beyond the current situation. They realize they can always improve the situation.
Abstract Thinking. Characterized by the ability to use concepts and to make and understand generalizations, properties, or patterns shared by a variety of specific items or events. For example a concrete thinker may see just an apple, while an abstract thinker will see what he can do with the apple. Concrete thinkers are surface thinkers while abstract thinkers are more in-depth. By thinking this way it allows you to approach situations from different angles allowing yourself to see the potential in all areas.
Positive Thinking. Not only does positive thinking reduce stress and increases health, but it allows you to see the good in everything. Being optimistic about the way you think creates an incubator for creativity to nurture and grow. It’s been proven that positive thinking people are happier. As Winston Churchill says “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty”. Positive thinking is what makes creative minds shine above the rest.
Take Risks. Creative minds are open minded people. They thrive on taking risks. Picasso has said “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it”. That is what life is all about, venturing into the unknown to see and learn the possibilities it may hold. According to a study conducted by the University of Bonn, out of 20,000 people surveyed, the ones who enjoyed taking risks were more content and happy with their lives. Another study by psychologists Dellas and Gaier, in their frequently cited review, “creative individuals have less fear than the average person of making mistakes, of social disapproval, or ‘the anxiety of separateness.’ They have a strong enough ego to admit when they’re wrong or in trouble, and to analyze and learn from their errors.” A well- known psychoanalyst and author named Roolo May (Courage to Create, Love and Will), observed: “Creative persons are precisely those that take the cards that make them anxious.
Of course, they’re constantly shuffling these cards; they hate standing still. You could say these folks really do best playing with a loose deck.” So in short, you will never know the rewards if you don’t take the risk.
Have Fun. Creative people by nature are fun people to be around, they keep things interesting and exciting. They’re usually the life of the party, always coming up with wacky ways to do things. Aside from the day to day grind, make sure you set time aside to have fun! Explore new hobbies you have always thought about doing, read a book you are interested in, vacation to a place you have been thinking about, do a family activity that creates great memories for everyone. Whatever it is that you like to do; do it! And do it regularly! It’s a great way to relieve stress and clear your mind; and with a clear mind comes creativity.
So now that you know what creativity is, you may ask yourself “Where do I start?” Through my years of experience within the creative service field, I’ve come up with several things that may help you regain your creative status. So the next time someone says “creative genius” they’re referring to you.
Step 1: Start with the basics
It’s like building a house, you need a firm and solid foundation first, before you can build the rest. Same with creative thinking; laying a solid foundation of basic creative principles will allow you to have a solid house of creative thinking.
Exercise #1-When was the last time you laid on the lawn, stared up at the sky, and tried to find images in cloud formations? If you haven’t done it since you where a child I suggest you stop reading right now and go outside and do it.
Starting with the basics means that-starting with the basics as a child would. Things, places, colors, and shapes are seen differently from a child’s abstract point of view than an adults. Most children are not concrete thinkers they don’t just see a cloud, they see dragons, butterflies, dogs, and bunnies-children are great resources when it comes to understanding basic creative principles.
“As a child we saw clouds, painted across the sky, as our first creative inspiration. Today let us not forget that lesson learned; for he who sees inspiration in something as simple as a cloud, has laid the foundation for him self to see inspiration in all things.”
Exercise #2-Experimentation has shown that the two different sides, or hemispheres, of the brain are responsible for different manners of thinking. The following list illustrates the differences between left-brain and right-brain thinking:
Left Brain-logical, sequential, rational, analytical, objective, mechanical
Right Brain-creativity, random, intuitive, risk taker, artisitic, subjective, abstract thinking
So lets tap into the right side of the brain. Take a coloring book and being as creative as you can, color the picture. But don’t color the sky blue because that’s how your left brain would color it, color it how your right brain would (pink, orange, purple, any color); add things to the picture that aren’t originally there, a rainbow, birds, trees, etc. Let you mind wonder! There’s no wrong way to being creative, it’s how you see it or want to see it.
These basic exercises will help train your right side of the brain and spark a hidden creative energy that will be unstoppable.
A misunderstood myth is that creative people can pull ideas out of thin air. This is hardly ever true, most of the time creativity is based on something they’ve seen, smelt, touched, heard, or tasted. They become very in tune with their five senses allowing them to be aware of their surroundings. We call this our “source”. Creative minds always have a source that triggers creativity, and we usually have more than one source to fit any situation. You need to find your creative sources.
As you do you may ask yourself some simple questions:
- What is it that I like about this?
- What situations could this help me with?
- What sense does this apply to?
Once you’ve found your source, start collecting or keeping a journal of your finds. For example, when I see a website design I like I usually will archive it for a later date. I’ll also collect magazine ads, pictures, and articles that spark my interest. By keeping a collection or journal of what you find, this will allow you to lay the ground work to creativity, with the only thing to add is your own creative flare.
Exercise #1: Blindfold yourself while having someone place food items in front of you. Try and guess what they are. Do the same exercise with sound, smell, and touch.
Exercise #2: A creative person has a great memory which allows them to recall their sources at any given time. To practice, take a picture of something- anything. It could be boring or interesting, study it for 3-5 minutes. Once 3-5 minutes are up, turn the picture over, on a piece of paper write down what you’ve seen. But just don’t say trees, rocks, leaves, be specific. How many trees, what kind of trees are they, what color are the leaves, what season is it, what size of rocks are present, are they boulders or pebbles or both, be as detailed as you possibly can. Once you’ve mastered 3-5 min, up the ante by doing it for 1 or 2 minutes. This exercise will teach you to use your memory quickly in any situation.