This is the promised Part II in my series of action steps you can take to become more creative and to actually use your inherent creative abilities. But first I have to start with a story, as always: I have a sixteen year old son. He’s a great kid but today I’m exhausted because I didn’t sleep well last night. My son acted like a sixteen year old yesterday, (yes, I know that’s his age, but at sixteen age appropriate creates real challenges). So armed with a feeling of parental righteousness my wife and I confronted our son and proceeded to dispense judgment and justice. It didn’t work too well, thus my sleepless night. And at about 4 am this morning I realized our mistake. We were parenting our son the same way we had dealt with our daughter, who is the oldest child and very different from our son. She responds in a vastly different way to criticism than our son does. By the time I came back from my early morning swim today, I was able to put together a coherent message for my son that reflected who he is and the way he responds to criticism. It was the polar opposite from the way we talked to him last night and the polar opposite of how we’d talk to our daughter, but I knew this line of communication would be effective. It was.
Whether it’s as a parent, a boss or a colleague, leadership is all about listening and knowing who you are talking to. As a leader you want to optimize your team, be it your family or workplace and in order to do some real team building, you have to listen, react, adapt, follow and lead. Leadership is not about presenting the same message to everyone assuming they will adapt to your style and respond positively. It just doesn’t work that way. But changing your style may require some effort on your part, to step outside of your own box. That requires creativity. Last week I outlined beginning action steps you can take to become more creative. Read last week’s guide here. In summary it was to schedule time, pick a subject to ponder, don’t be results oriented, don’t judge, notate your thoughts & repeat! But you really should review the details if you can.
Now on to Part II. Let’s say you want to find a different way of communicating with someone to adapt to their style, but you’re not sure how. That’s a problem that requires a new solution, thus the need to be creative.
Harnessing Your Creative Power – Part II
- You’ve taken all the initial action steps outlined last week, but you’re not feeling creative – you’re getting…nothing…so here’s what you need to do – Go On Input
- Go On Input means to do some research. Read a magazine article about a topic relevant to the subject you’re grappling with. Tweet out calls for advice on the subject, google white papers and absorb, absorb, absorb.
- Creativity doesn’t come in a vacuum. It’s alright to use other people’s ideas and inspiration to evolve solutions for your own problems.
- The hardest part here; don’t set a time limit for solution or action. You may spend an entire session reading, pondering or taking notes without approaching a creative idea you can use to harness for yourself. That’s okay, sleep on it all!
- Collect, collect, collect, your thoughts and ideas, don’t discard them just yet. I have a folder on my computer titled, Ideas. There’s lots of stuff in there I may never use, and lots of stuff in there I will eventually use.
- To summarize, all I’ve done here is give you ways to generate ideas when you have none. So now you can’t just sit around and say, “I’m not creative, I don’t have any ideas”. Instead you can say, “I’m not feeling creative at the moment, but I know where I can find some ideas”.
Have you done last week’s exercise? Please let me know if you have and share what came out of it. What sources do you go to when you’re out of ideas? I’d love to hear your ideas on the subject!