Many people think that only special “gifted people” in black turtle neck sweaters are capable of being creative. People who regard themselves as non-creative can probably remember back to when they were kids and how their parents would display their “works of art” on the kitchen refrigerator. Pablo Picasso said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”

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Creativity is the ability to cause something to exist or bring into being through artistic or imaginative effort. You may not be artistic, but we all have some degree of creativity. It’s a skill that can be developed and strengthened with use or atrophy and wither with neglect. You can create a sandwich, create plans for the weekend, or create a PowerPoint for your meeting. We create all the time.

The key developing creativity is to surround yourself with positive supportive people but also balance it with people who will challenge you and poke holes in your ideas so you can make them better. Create a safe environment that encourages risk taking and embraces making mistakes and even failing. My former manager and I created this presentation about creating a corporate environment to foster innovation. You have to use Microsoft Internet explorer to view the presentation properly.

Get in touch with your inner child again. Here are some tips to re-ignite the creative spark:

  • Spend more time with kids-build a fort in the bedroom with a sheet and make believe, you are on a camping trip. If you don’t have kids at home see if you can volunteer somewhere or spend time with your friend’s kids. They would appreciate a baby sitter.
  • Play-My office at work has all kinds of toys and junk that I like to look at and pick-up when I have a mental block
  • Get out of your house, cubical, or office-Malcolm McLean was the founder of Sea-Land trucking, the company that revolutionized the cargo industry. One day Malcolm was waiting for his shipment to be off loaded from a ship at the docks in Hoboken, NJ. As he watched, he got the idea for a portable shipping container that could go from a truck to a ship and vice versa without unloading.
  • Try something different-go to see a play or the opera, if you don’t like sports, go to a ball game. We all get into ruts.
  • Seed your mind with variety-read a random magazine cover to cover about a topic you never read about. You may need help picking a random title. Pick a number, count off the magazine titles on the rack to you reach the number in your mind and that’s what you read. Even if it’s “Teen Beat”
  • Use all your senses-The sound of water has been associated with stimulating creativity. At one time we had a fountain at work that made the soothing sounds of a babbling brook. Think of Archimedes, he was in the bathtub when he had his Eureka moment. He then ran naked through town announcing his discovery so be careful.
  • Keep a pad and pencil handy-Keep a pen and paper with you at all times. in strategic places around the house, and in your car. The Jotter by Dultuh Trading Company is a cool product I hope to get for father’s day (hint hint Honey). I also need to get waterproof pad and pen for the shower; I can’t tell you how may ideas hit me there.

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