On Creativity

On Creativity

We always find it interesting when we hear people say they are not "creative" or that they try to divide the world into "creatives" and "non-creatives" (This happens all of the time in the entertainment industry). There is this idea that because you wear a suit to the office or you have a job that is not "artistic" (eg - lawyer, banker, operations executive, BD, accountant, etc) for some reason you are not creative (people also assume that lawyers, generally speaking, are not mathematically inclined (another falsehood) but we will leave that to another day).

To be sure, while we can't all be creative geniuses like Lady Gaga, Pharrell or Jony Ive, the overwhelming majority of us bring a high level of creativity to solving every day issues  - from such basic things as how we dress for an occasion, to solving challenges at work, to figuring out how to juggle all of the things we need to squeeze into 24 hours.  It is just that the exercise of this type of creativity does not show up on Spotify or get hung on the wall of an art gallery. Even those who feel that they are not particularly creatively inclined can do things to improve their creativity - they just need to focus on it and practice thinking up new and different solutions to existing challenges. 

One of the things that we do regularly is something we learned from author James Altucher: The Idea List. James spends a few minutes every day writing down 10 ideas about a topic. The topic can be literally anything: from "10 Ways to Make Commuting To Work Enjoyable" to "10 Ways To Eat Better," or even "10 ideas for 10 idea lists".  The key here is to do it consistently. And also - no one said that the ideas have to be good ideas or even technologically feasible ideas - they just have to be different ideas. This exercise is just a way to get in the habit of thinking of unique and creative ways to solve problems and tackle challenges. For example, here is our "idea list" for today:

10 Ways to Improve The Spoon:
  1. Include a heating and cooling mechanism on the spoon for scraping ice cream out of a container or cooling your food as you are eating it
  2. Include a mechanism in the handle of the spoon to take the user's vital signs and send that data back to an app for health updates
  3. Include a mechanism in the spoon to determine what the person is eating, how many calories, etc and then send that back to a diet tracking app.
  4. Fabricate the spoon out of a material that will change color if dirty or if you are eating a type of food that will make you sick, not on your diet, etc
  5. Include a switch that when pressed, would turn the spoon into a fork
  6. Fabricate the basin of the spoon out of a magnifying glass so you can inspect your food more closely
    1. NOTE - See - we never said these had to be good ideas.
  7. Add a candle lighter to the handle of the spoon so you can easily light candles if you can't find matches
    1. NOTE - Again!
  8. Include bristles on the spoon to scrape any food particles out of your teeth
    1. NOTE - One More Time!
  9. Include a mechanism for opening up the basin of the spoon to allow soup or other liquid to drain
  10. Add a pencil to the base of the spoon so you can use it to write and eat
  11. Manufacture spoons out of a material that you allow you to easily increase the size of the basin of the spoon to accommodate what you are eating or that you can reshape easily into a knife or other utensil
Notice - we always like to do more than 10 - just to keep the idea that we are always striving to do more than what is required. Also - once you are done, you tear up the list and throw it away and don't think about them any more. The sole purpose of the list is to foster creativity, not create an action plan (though you can do that too - an idea for an idea list is to list out the 10 things in your life that are distracting you from accomplishing what you want to accomplish,  10 things you want to cut out of your diet, etc).

Good luck out there.


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