We are all creative, whether we’d like to think so or not. It’s just a matter of rediscovering and practising it.

I can remember clearly growing up that everything was an opportunity to be playful to create and to just be. When we got a new appliance, or anything contained in a box, as a child I couldn’t wait for my mom to unpack it so I can get the box. I would take the box into the living room and build castles, buildings and various playful things out of cardboard to play with for hours and weeks on end.

Somehow when we grow up we lose this sense of playfulness, why? When we are younger we are 100% confident to play with our hands, to learn with our hands and ultimately grow by doing. It’s from using our hands that we develop our sense of creativity.

We’re all born creative

I honestly believe we all have a connection to our creativity that is either developed or ignored. Growing up, we’re not as afraid to give our idea, or gather Lego blocks and build something. We’re not considering what someone will say about it or what their opinion will be, we just create, with our hands, for ourselves. Somewhere along the way we’re influenced by others opinions and start second guessing ourselves, our creativity. Stop that, you’re the only one that can stop it. Believe in yourself and experiment with your hands to build your confidence.

The big divide

As we’re growing up and starting to be conscious about popular opinions and the notions of analytical thinking imposed on us from formal education, we seem to divide into two groups, “creatives” and “non-creatives”.

Half the battle is to resist judging yourself.

It’s key to learn to listen to your own intuition and learn to embrace your ideas — good or bad. You need to have a lot of ideas to have a good one, so don’t judge the bad ones. They are exactly what you need to get the juices flowing.

Practice makes perfect

Everyone has an ability to come up with ideas, it’s not something that has been specifically reserved for the creatives. The big difference is that they practice coming up with ideas and lateral thinking a lot more than their “non-creative” analytical thinking counterparts.

The body is an amazing thing if you don’t use something you tend to lose it over time. I see creativity as a muscle that we need to flex to be able to use it. The more you practice creativity the better you’ll become at it.

Design Thinking to the rescue

Design Thinking is a mindset that unlocks this method of creativity and doing with your hands that are open to everyone and anyone willing to partake in building a better future. It becomes the framework we adopt when facing a difficult challenge that we can solve creatively instilling a sense of optimism within individuals and teams alike.

“If you acknowledge that creative thoughts are the engine that drives innovation, suddenly creativity becomes really important.” –Tom Kelley, IDEO Partner

Quantity over quality

The true trait of creativity is having the flexibility to come up with many ideas. When practising divergent thinking in ideation the goal is not coming up with one perfect idea to solve your problem. It is key to expand the perimeter around your problem and come up with as many ideas as possible in order to have more choices. It is key however to defer judgement at this stage as you’re just coming up with ideas and not validating them. Eventually, we’ll converge towards the right solution and cut back the ideas that won’t work. This is why the volume of ideas is a true indication of creativity, and the good news is anyone can learn and practice.

We are creatures of habit

Our brains are filled with neural pathways that continuously try to optimise our daily lives. The more our brain can put the mundane tasks on autopilot the more space there are for new processing. As creatives, we want to optimise this by using it for our mundane tasks, but then break free from doing the same thing each time you try to problem solve. We need to keep ourselves on the edge and disrupt our thinking and creativity by doing new things all the time.

The fear of getting started

Naturally, we are the most intimidated on the first encounter, the artists stared at a blank canvas, a writer has a blank page. Instead of focusing on the overall task at hand, focus on something smaller that’s easy to achieve and start there. The thing with creativity is that is a work in progress, and we can always circle back and replace what we first put down.

Action Steps

Okay, this is all good and well but what can I do to rediscover my creativity?

  • Practice and write down 3 ideas a day.
  • When you see a solution to a problem, ask yourself what else could they have done?
  • Daydream…
  • Ask why?
  • Do something mundane and have your brain “work in the background”
  • Embrace Constraints. There’s a reason a canvas has boundaries and Twitter has limited characters. Embrace it and make the most of it.
  • Spot problems people aren’t even aware of, and think how you would solve them.
  • Write your spouse a note each day.
  • Try new things all the time.
  • Experiences unlock new ways of thinking, experience more.
  • When cooking, don’t settle for always making the same dishes, try making something new.
  • Read! Reading can definitely help to get the ball rolling.
  • Draw a doodle a day. (You don’t have to show anyone)

Wrapping it up

Creativity doesn’t come naturally to all of us, but it doesn’t mean we’re not. Creativity is a way of thinking and doing. If we choose to adopt a creative and playful mindset we can break down the barriers put in place mostly by ourselves. Practising creativity will make you get better at it.

So don’t just think about it, get started today!