Creativity is Essential
But where does creativity come from?
Success comes to those who are truly creative, but how many people do you know, that you can truly say have great, creative ideas?
My 13 year-old son and I were discussing creativity and inventions just yesterday. Who actually invents something or comes up with an idea that turns into millions or billions of dollars? Much of it is technology today and Steve Jobs is a great example. Read his life story and you’ll see some character attributes you may not appreciate, but you can’t deny he had some genius in him. Is this creativity limited to just a few people? Or can you build your capacity to create?
Creativity is a character trait. Some may be more creative than others, but don’t for a minute believe that you can’t become creative, or more creative than you are right now. Here are three things to consider if you want to be more creative, and therefore achieve greater success.
Taking Time To Build and Organize Knowledge
Napoleon Hill calls each one of us to become learners – but not generalists. He calls out the university system as broken. The university system would have you believe the lie that a broad, general, liberal arts education is what you want if you’re going to lead. They have also instilled in us the lie that you need a professor to master something. This is not the case. Hill says, “No, you want specialized knowledge – to be an expert in something.” And that comes from research, reading, and organizing knowledge as you learn it.
Greg McKeown agrees in his book Essentialism. He stresses the importance of choosing to either know a lot about a lot of things, and therefore be mediocre in all of them, or to specialize and become the expert; the advisor. Of course he urges us to choose the latter. Choose to be an expert in something that matters.
Hill encourages us to be reading every month and to subscribe to online courses (what he calls home study courses) that give us that specialized knowledge in our field of choice.
Taking Time To Brainstorm
Seth Godin, well known author and former VP of Marketing for Yahoo (back when they were a stock you’d want to own), tells us that great ideas are the few that pop up in the midst of hundreds of bad ideas. In other words, taking time to brainstorm and write out ideas leads to lots of bad ideas and a few good ones. Those who don’t have good ideas, don’t actually have any ideas. They just don’t take time to think up ideas.
Before Thomas Edison solved the lightbulb problem, he first came up with a thousand things that don’t work. You can’t expect to have great, creative ideas, unless you first spend time coming up with all kinds of ideas, good and bad.
Hill points to our inherent fear of failure as the hurdle that keeps us from creating. It’s one of the six major fears common to all men according to Hill. No one wants to be different. But being the same just means you’re average. If you want to be more successful, you have to somehow be different. Again, it was likely the school system, where the oddly dressed person was the outcast. Everyone had to be the same – same clothes, same music, same hair style, same lingo. Different was bad…Just ask Bill Gates.
Taking Time to Rejuvenate
Finally, McKeown compares us to our cell phones. If we’re not charged we won’t perform. Looking back at the industrial revolution he describes our mindset as one that values constant work, not creativity. The idea of a machine being down simply means it’s broken. So when it’s time to take time off for renewal, we cringe. It’s seems like a waste of time. The guy working next to you, who never takes any sick or vacation time, and who works 80 hours per week, is seen as more valuable. The truth is, creativity is worth more than any machine can produce. And more than the average workaholic will produce.
McKeown schedules his vacation days first. Days to completely let go of work, put away the phone, and ignore check email. These are days of renewal, to reset the mind and prepare him for great things.
Taking McKeown’s advice, I am, right now as you read this, trekking through the most northern mountain range in New York with my 13 year-old son Josiah. There’s no cell service out here, and no place to charge a laptop. Our only electronics are GPS and a satellite phone in case of emergency. It’s a time for relationship and renewal – one that will lead to greater self-awareness, productivity, and creativity.
If you want to be creative, and therefore more successful, start reading, organizing knowledge, brainstorming from that knowledge, and taking time off to renew your mind.
© 2016, David Stelzl