As the old internet adage goes, “If you’re not creating, you are waiting.”
Most know that being stagnant (i.e., waiting) in business can be the death knell of any company. Innovation and creativity aren’t simply buzzwords but essential skills needed in every industry to design the future.
Creative thinking ranks only second to analytical thinking and ahead of agility, resilience, and flexibility, according to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2023.
Like with anything worth cultivating, with time and diligence, it’s possible to develop a creative mindset.
Be Open to Being Open
Being creative isn’t a popularity contest — at least in the beginning. You have to be willing potentially to be mocked, judged, and/or dismissed for your ideas. And that’s OK.
It also means being open to new ideas and perspectives, even if they challenge your existing beliefs.
The creative mindset requires being “open to being open” to get desired results, regardless of what conventional wisdom says or does.
For example, Sara Blakely created SPANX after getting ready for a party, and discovering that she didn’t have the right undergarment for a “smooth look” under white pants. Blakely cut the feet off her control top pantyhose, and the rest is history. SPANX is now worth $1.2 billion and has incorporated street clothing and lingerie into the shapewear brand.
“Creativity is at the core of innovation,” said Jonathan Schooler, Ph.D., a professor of psychological and brain sciences at the University of California, Santa Barbara in an article for the American Psychological Association. “We rely on innovation for advancing humanity, as well as for pleasure and entertainment. Creativity underlies so much of what humans value.”
The Paradoxical Mindset
The first rule of improvisational comedy, one of the most creative fields, is to believe in the “Yes’ and!” The rule allows an improviser to accept what another person is saying and add more to the conversation. It allows the actors to expand on a line of thinking and essentially brainstorm in real-time.
The same idea can also apply to business creativity. Sometimes the answer isn’t “either/or,” it’s both. For example, theoretical physicist Albert Einstein explored the idea of how an object could be both moving and at rest, depending on the watcher’s position.
Having a paradoxical mindset is the ability to actively consider multiple opposites or antitheses simultaneously to find innovative solutions to problems. Embracing a paradox mindset can help you unlock your creativity and become more innovative in your personal and professional life. In the creative process, sometimes 1+1 can equal 3.
Mind-Body Connection: Sleep and Walking
The mind-body connection is important not just for overall physical and mental health but also for sparking creativity. Sleep deprivation may impair creativity by causing poor memory, reduced focus, and an inability to track and focus on complex tasks.
A study published in the Journal of Business Venturing found that sleep-deprived individuals generate worse ideas than they would if they were well-rested, are worse at distinguishing between good and bad ideas, and are more impulsive, making them more likely to act on their bad ideas.
Seeing sleep as a competitive (creativity) advantage can help you unlock your creativity and become more innovative in your personal and professional life.
On the other end of the spectrum, walking helps with sparking innovation, researchers say.
A Stanford University study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, found that walking instead of sitting can improve creativity by 60%.
Some of society’s best thinkers, such as Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, were notorious for incorporating walking into the workday.
Being well-rested significantly contributes to generating better ideas and making sound judgments.
Walking and sleeping (paradoxical!) are some of the best ways to boost your creative process.
Innovation is the key to staying competitive in today’s fast-paced world. Being open to all ideas, whether they are conventional or unconventional, embracing a paradoxical mindset, and maintaining your physical and mental help can unleash creativity.
Don’t be afraid to take risks and keep pushing boundaries. The bottom line depends on it. A McKinsey & Company study found that creative leaders had 67% “above-average organic revenue growth” and 70% above average total return to shareholders. Business leaders can’t afford not to be creative.
This article was originally published in Certainty News: www.certaintynews.com/article/innovation-is-the-key-to-unlocking-creativity