Creativity is the art of having good ideas. Life is an art form once we understand the process. Of course, life is made of many processes and we each are newcomers to some and veterans of others. It is in the process that creativity is found. When we change the process or the ingredients, we are able to produce new concepts and products that work differently. Whether you are solving a problem in the real world or forming a fictional universe that people want to read about, the process and the product are where the creativity is found. Often we only see the product and the work that goes in to produce it is hidden. We can see what is presented and make guesses but if we really want to understand, and therefore turn it into an art, then we need to ask questions and do some learning.
Everything that works seems obvious at the time, and yet before we knew about it many of us had no idea. Our minds are good at seeing right things when they’re given but we’re not so good at coming up with right things without a lot of inspiration. The inspiration is the act of having new ideas based on what we already know. The new obvious solution that is so far unheard of is only a thought away. Finding the leaf and the root of this thought is where we have to do the work. We can start by looking at the leaves and roots of all the thoughts we already have and why the metaphorical rose continues to flower and grow.
The mechanics of our successful processes, whether a business model or a story-telling method, a painting form or a poetry form, are available to us. We need to apply ourselves to learn them by studying the work and the workers with both eyes. When we begin to have an intuitive appreciation for the process and the reasons behind it, we can use these as our starting points. Creativity can then be taken in two directions. We can either assess whether any of the processes could be better, because what we think about it is not what the end results say, or we can use what works in one situation to improve or create another.
When data driven improvements are made we can fall into the trap of being one dimensional. Numbers might look better on a screen but if the human part of the equation is not taken into account then we will not get an accurate projection. In fact, data must be used holistically across several fields of influence in order to gain a good idea of the best thing to do. What looks like productivity and progress might actually be a waste of new potential and sustainability.
The methods people use to get the job done are thinking tools that can fit many appliances. If you’ve ever used a pliers to knock in a small nail because you didn’t have a hammer, you can see how one process can be transferred. Of course, you really want a hammer but sometimes the pliers can be useful for something else other than pulling pieces of wire. They make a decent paperweight, for example. When we can apply a method or idea from one field into another one, we can improve the harvest. The way we do this is by spending time to think deeply about what we know and the problem we are tasked with solving. How do other people solve similar problems and how have these similar problems been navigated in the past? We have our own unique view on the world and we know slightly different things, so with our toolset we can apply a unique and creative approach to novel situations.
Putting one idea into another perspective is often called reframing. When politicians put a spin on their work, they colour they language with positives that make their position seem reasonable and negatives to make detractors seem unreasonable. We can do this with ideas when it comes to looking at them in positive ways. Look for the positive spin in the idea that can make our motor start. Often we need to go back to the drawing board and figure out what it is we are trying to achieve and decide if our plan of action is appropriate or necessary. Ask for honest critique, take the opinions of others into account. The more experience a person has in the field you are active in then the more they will have an intuitive feel for the value of new ideas. They can help you to refine your thinking to make things more realistic and relevant.
Try to experience the thinking style and method of as many veterans and intelligent people as you can. When we are surrounded by valuable action and exposed to professional quality thinking then we learn everyday about how to improve our own direction. The perspectives of other people can be limited to their particular personality and so we need to make sure we listen to a range of different people with their own unique view on the world and the job at hand. When we can assimilate the wisdom from this broad leaf selection of people, we can begin to colour our own thinking with this varied and multiplied palette.
In order to fully realise your ability to be creative, you need to start with curiosity. Find out what’s really going on behind the things we observe. We need to use a combination of empathy and imagination to truly get to the bottom of why things are as they are and whether they can be effectively changed. It is in our changes that creativity takes place. The potential all around us is rich and diverse with ideas reinventing themselves via new technologies and fashions. The fundamental principles of making life easier and sustained in comfort are ever-present.
Applying the world of ideas to our own concept is like taking the fundamental building blocks of other well-built ideas in order to create a new vision that not only compliments what came before but improves on it. Life changing and world changing ideas are rare, but the ingredients are all around us. It takes a dedicated mind to observe and define problems and then grow solutions from the fundamentals of what we already know.
Recommended read: The Story of Our Lives: Homo Sapiens' Secrets of Success
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