What instincts do you possess? Often, whenever we hear the word instincts, we frequently connect it to animals. I believe, unlike us (humans), animals still heavily dependent on their instincts for basic survival in the wild. We have developed a dependence on the technologies that we have created to navigate our new world. But despite the advances in technology there is an instinct we can’t afford to lose and must be constantly sharpened if we are to excel in the economic world we live in, which is the instinct of creativity. This is because creativity is the key to solving problems and innovation in the market economy.
If you’re a parent or you are involved in the lives of children, you would agree with the observation that creativity is a human instinct that we are born with. Unfortunately, when you turn your attention to the adult population, you would realize another observation, that as we age most people lose their creativity; they settle for the norm of the day. This is evident by the number of adults who sit on their untapped talents, complain about their jobs, and experience a sense of helplessness. I am convinced that if we don’t yield to the factors that kill our inborn creativity, such as settling for average or narrow mindedness, we can use our God-given ability to be creative and build a life of significance that does not settle for average. But to do so, we need our greatest asset; the brain.
Powered by the brain
Your mind is the most potent asset that could transform your life and the lives of others through its output. Depending on what you’re feeding your mind, its capacity can be expanded to levels unimaginable. Your mind is the powerhouse for your creativity. It has been labeled the first computer ever built. It is an input output system, which mean the quality of what you put in your brain determines the quality of what you get. Our thoughts are a reflection of what we consume. When it comes to creativity, we are to feed our brains with ideas, and through the millions of neuron connections in our brains, the ideas get reshuffled, tweaked, and refined before being released as an output.
While creativity is inborn, it requires a mind that’s fed with the proper substance (great ideas) so that it can grow and expand as we age. Oftentimes, when you see adults who aren’t creative, it’s not because they were not gifted with creativity, it’s because they allowed their creative instincts to wither and dry off. The good news is that whether your creativity is dried up or you don’t consider yourself creative, you can always revive or improve your creativity. Today’s post I want to show you three keys to either jump start or expand your creativity. Let’s get started:
The first key to creativity is exposure. Exposure is the gateway to new ideas. Growing up I was privileged to visit many places around my home country. Travelling not only allowed me to visit different places geographically, it also allowed me to meet many people who had completely different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives on life than I had. I got to learn from the stories of different people. Traveling and listening to stories of people can greatly expanded your exposure. And as my mum would say, “traveling opens up the mind to new ideas”.
Nature, art, and people’s experiences are some of the things that can expand our creativity. Walking on a nature trail; visiting an art museum; or meeting new people, can greatly induce and enhance our creativity.
Since traveling is not always possible, I have three places I go to without leaving my geographical location. My first best place to go is into books. Books are an oasis of ideas. They are a great avenue to expose yourselves to other people’s ideas and experiences. A book that’s connected to an area of your interest will always expand your creativity. My second place to go for creativity enrichment are documentaries. I love watching documentaries that will teach me new things. Documentaries are great because they are a collection of facts that have been verified and well organized. I find value in them especially during my downtime. The third place I go for exposure is in podcasts. Nowadays there is a library of podcasts online that can offer great value for creativity. It’s a matter of deciding the topic you want to learn more about, and you can find all the resources online. Once I amass ideas, I incubate them.
It’s estimated that an average human brain has about eighty six billion neurons and each neuron may be connected to up to 10,000 other neurons. They pass signals to each other via as many as a thousand trillion synaptic connections, equivalent by some estimates to a computer with a 1 trillion bit per second processor. In other words, your brain is a super computer, which serves as an incubator for your ideas. Incubating ideas simply means allowing ideas to sit your mind long enough to connect with other thoughts.
Incubating ideas allows two important things to happen. One, the ideas develop as they are linked to other ideas that might have seemed distant when viewed independently. Two, you gain a deeper insight as you incubate your thoughts. So, as simple as it might look, allowing your mind to sit on ideas is a very critical step to creativity. And only when we incubate our ideas, are we able to share them in a “grown” state.
The final key to creativity is sharing your ideas. Releasing your ideas from your mind is the way you amplify your creativity. The simplest way to have more of anything in life is to share more. This is also applicable to the ideas you generate, because sharing makes room for more. The more you share your ideas the more creative you become.
Beyond generating more ideas when you share them, three things will happen to the ideas you share. First, a shared idea gets improved. When you speak your ideas out loud with others it means you also get to hear them out loud. If you share with ten people, it means you get to hear the idea ten times. This way you get to receive feedback that helps improve the quality of that idea. Second, a shared idea creates opportunities. A shared idea could become a project your boss asks you to do or it could be the root of a business that you didn’t see until you shared it. Third, a shared idea becomes impactful. An idea that’s only in your head is not powerful unless it is released. When you share ideas, you give them permission to impact the world. The beautiful thing about sharing ideas is that the impact it has is much greater than you originally imagined.
In summary, creativity is a human instinct that’s powered by the mind when we expose ourselves to new ideas, incubate those ideas to grow and make new connections so as to produce artistic work.
Physician, psychologist, and author of Six Thinking Hats, Edward de Bono once stated, “Creativity involves breaking out of expected patterns in order to look at things in a different way.” So, I would like to end by encouraging you to break out of expected patterns, especially in thinking, and find new ways of looking at things so that you can elevate your creativity. Next week I will share with you three keys to productivity.