Creativity: Where can you find it?

New topics or activities can be a source of creativity (Source: Corbis)

You can learn how to use your imagination, and thinking outside the box is usually a daft idea.

Too often, businesses and employees fall into the trap of sticking to “safe” work. They are comfortable offering the services and systems that guarantee an easy “yes” from customers, and are so preoccupied with ensuring that their clients are content that they fear pushing the boundaries.
But if you are an expert who is advertising or pitching to a client in any sector, it is your responsibility to consistently push boundaries, and to be forward-thinking with creative concepts and new ideas within your field.
No one thing makes a person creative. And you can’t find a single process that’ll guarantee creativity over a lifetime. But we know that creativity is a vital part of modern life, proven to decrease stress and improve productivity.
How can you continuously locate this creativity in your working life? Here are some ideas.

CREATIVITY IS A SKILL

Many people set out to find creativity in work, employees and in life. We’re very used to using the word now, but creativity can’t just be picked up – it is a skill; a craft to be learned. Remember that it takes education and a will to learn.

IMAGINATION IS YOUR TOOL

Like all craftsmen, the creative has tools, and the most important one is his imagination. Learning to use your imagination can help you to form ideas. This, in turn, will help to open other people’s minds. When used correctly, imagination can help you to weave the familiar with the novel.

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

The more you use your imagination, the better you’ll get at being effective creatively. Try out your imagination on a wide variety of things. Use it to think of new ideas in every part of your life, from cooking to planning your route to work. The content doesn’t matter, but the process does.

OUTSIDE THE BOX?

We are often instructed to “think outside the box”. But be aware that dragging everything that’s “outside the box” into the box can lead to irrelevant information being deemed important, and to a lasting impression of you as someone who wastes time toying with ideas that aren’t necessarily helpful.

LOOK IN ODD PLACES

You can never know where inspiration and the muse of creativity is going to hit you from – and you can find inspiration in anything. But in every sector, it is very easy to become dangerously inward facing.
One way to break this is to take inspiration from industries totally separate from your own. Often, something utterly unrelated or contrasting can inform what you’re working on – an article you read about fashion innovation could be the seed that springs a finance tree in your mind, for instance.
You should also think of every topic you investigate as a new source of ideas for you to use. A broad and eclectic mix of influences from art, science, history, psychology and technology will give you a whole spectrum to choose from. Even new people can teach you something about being creative.
If you confine yourself to what you already know, you’ll only ever think in black and white. Read, meet, investigate and you’ll have a whole rainbow to choose from.
Most importantly, in order to find creativity, you must revel in the inspiration that is unique to you. Don’t feel confined by what other people consider innovative. One person’s bread is another person’s toast.
James Wilkins is managing director of Vista.

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