How do you maintain your creativity

Creativity: How it is created - how you encourage your creativity

Creativity is the basis of all creativity and every idea. It gives art expression and form and is at the same time an important prerequisite for innovation. We admire creative people who seem to be bursting with ideas, constantly having new thoughts and who put their flashes of inspiration into practice. Creativity is not something that falls from the sky: it can be encouraged. Anyone, anytime. What characterizes creativity, how it comes about, plus tips and techniques on how you can easily become more creative ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Definition: what is creativity?

What is creativity Everyone is talking about the term. Some have lost their creativity, others want to encourage them - only what exactly is meant by this often remains a bit vague or unclear. Therefore, at the beginning there is a definition:

Creativity is the ability to think in an original, imaginative and creative way and to invent or create something that can be experienced in a new, useful and sensual way.

The term itself is not that old. It has only been found in the Duden dictionary since 1973. The word “creativity” is derived from the Latin “creare”, which means something like “create something new, invent, create, manufacture”. In recent times there has been a real hype about creativity. Its social importance has increased far beyond art. Both companies and private individuals see a wealth of ideas as an opportunity to react to accelerating change or to be able to keep up. After all, creativity is not limited to geniuses. It is all the more important that it retains its playful ease. Only in this way can creativity develop optimally.

What are creative skills?

Creativity has many faces. The talent encompasses a whole range of different skills. These include, for example:

  • The ability to see connections.
  • The ability to change perspective.
  • The ability to combine existing knowledge.
  • The ability to think in terms of pictures or analogies.
  • The ability to spontaneously form associations.
  • The ability to resolve opposites.
  • The ability to act intuitively.
  • The ability to adopt conflicting behaviors.
  • The ability to tell good ideas from bad ones.

How does creativity come about? 4 phases

More imagination, more inventiveness and innovation - that's what many would like. In order for creativity to arise, however, it needs favorable framework conditions. Scientists who deal with the flow of creativity processes have found that creativity very often arises in certain phases. These work like this:

  1. Problem identification (As-is analysis)
    First the situation is analyzed. A problem or deficiency is recognized.
  2. Preparatory phase (Target definition, team building)
    All information necessary to define a goal is collected. The right people who can help with the solution are also identified.
  3. Generation phase (Creative phase)
    This phase (also known as the “incubation phase”) is actually the creative phase. Now ideas and solutions are being developed - for example with the help of creativity techniques. Important: All ideas are initially collected on an equal footing.
  4. Assessment phase (Selection phase)
    Finally, the possible solutions are examined for their suitability and adapted. This phase is also known as the “verification phase”.

The individual phases can of course last different lengths and be supplemented by further iterative phases. The decisive factor is that there is often an (invisible) process behind the proverbial flash of inspiration. Or to put it another way: creativity is fermenting, it does not flash. You can train and promote creativity like a muscle. But not by forcing it, but rather by reducing what inhibits it. You have to allow creativity regularly, give it the necessary space. Conversely, however, it cannot be controlled. What comes out is always a kind of surprise.

Let creativity run free: 5 myths

The question of how creativity arises or how it can be promoted or increased usually leads to different techniques or methods - but also to some persistent myths about creative ability and the proverbial “genius loci”. The Harvard professor Teresa Amabile is considered a luminary in the field and has been studying creativity and its myths for more than a decade. In their opinion, the 5 worst include these:

Myth 1: Creativity can be located.

Many bosses whom Amabile interviewed said they wanted more ingenuity in marketing or in the research department. Definitely not in accounting. These are dangerous stereotypes. The idea behind this is that some employees are creative, others please not. Managers, however, should not try to lock creativity in a ghetto, but rather encourage every employee to adopt ingenious approaches - including controllers. In order to give the in-house thinking a fresh cell cure, less expertise is required, but all the more open-mindedness.

Myth 2: Money promotes good ideas.

The meta-studies showed it clearly: The really creative employees hardly thought about their pay. Synapses cannot be stimulated with bonuses or a higher salary. It was much more important to the above-average inventors that their ideas were recognized and supported. For managers this means: They have to find a balance between demanding and promoting - the flow. This is how creativity can be promoted.

Myth 3: Time pressure promotes creativity.

Not correct! Extreme time constraints even hinder creativity because there is no opportunity to let ideas mature. Effect: Even when the pressure subsided, the test subjects were less productive than usual on the following days. Deadlines are still justified (see Parkinson's law). But if they are too tight, you put the brakes on any original thought. In its essence, creativity is less of a thunderstorm (as the “Geistesblitz” suggests), but rather a fermentation process.

Myth 4: Competition is good for the mind.

Are you kidding me? Are you serious when you say that. Competition may be good for business. Competitive thinking, however, inhibits innovation. The most ingenious groups in the experiments were always those who trusted one another enough to discuss and exchange ideas. This is also confirmed by scientists from Harvard Business School. If the number of competitors increases, this has a discouraging and performance-inhibiting effect.

Myth 5: Fear promotes flashes of inspiration.

Sometimes that's true: necessity makes people inventive. But these are exceptions. Mostly fear blocks because our brain reduces its power to primal reflexes in this state: freezing, flight, attack. Somebody like that doesn't want to discover new territory anymore. Conversely, it becomes more of a shoe: Most people are particularly creative when they are balanced and happy.

You can also download the 5 myths of creativity HERE as a free PDF.

Promote creativity: 6 tips and techniques

Those who want to promote (their) creativity can now use a whole cornucopia of tried and tested tips and techniques. What all methods have in common is that they lead our thinking out of familiar paths and structures and stimulate our thoughts.

  • brainstorming
    In brainstorming - for example in a meeting - people can freely associate. The most important rules: Everything is collected first as it comes. Criticism is taboo - no matter how remote an idea may seem. The more ideas come up, the better.
  • Mind map
    You don't need more than a sheet of paper (optionally also a flipchart or smartboard) and a few pens. You're ready to go: Write the central term in the middle. From there you create side arms with associations and side aspects. In the end, the result is a ramified structure that is never really finished. The mind map is a visualization of all ideas into a kind of thought map, which also illustrates what belongs to the core and what leads far away from the original thought.
  • Change of perspective
    A few years ago, the British psychologist Edward de Bono developed six so-called "thinking hats", each of which he assigned a color (see: De Bono hats). Each color stands for a different perspective: white for analytical thinking, red for emotional, black for critical, yellow for optimistic, green for creative and blue for orderly thinking. In a team, the members are assigned the respective hats and thinking goals and must then approach the problem in this way. But you can also do this alone, alternately and one after the other.
  • Walt Disney method
    The Walt Disney method actually goes back to the animator of the same name. As with the de bono thinking hats, this is a group method to encourage creativity. However, only three roles are taken for the required change of perspective: those of the dreamer, the realist and the critic - in this order: First, it is “spun”, then it is seen what is feasible. Ultimately, objections and constructive (!) Suggestions lead to the optimal solution.
  • 6-3-5 method
    In the 6-3-5 method there are a total of six participants who each write down three ideas and repeat them five times. At the beginning, each participant writes three ideas, suggestions or problem solutions on a piece of paper. The pieces of paper are then passed on and everyone receives their neighbors' ideas. In the second round, these ideas are expanded, carried out and supplemented with your own thoughts. The whole thing happens exactly five times with six participants - until everyone has had each slip of paper and was able to add their own input.
  • Move
    Very few people can produce anything creative at the push of a button. But what always helps is exercise. Scientists at Stanford University found that just a short walk can increase creativity - by as much as 60 percent! Because you can hardly start jogging in the middle of a meeting, you should move around, get up, swap places or go to the window to open it and get a breath of fresh air. In both senses of the word.

Creativity doesn't peak until you're 50

When it comes to creativity, many people first think of young (creative) talents. They ask and question even more. Your mind is still dynamic, undisguised and flexible. Nice cliché. Unfortunately it is false. A recent study by Ohio State University on the exciting result: The creative high phase in life only occurs at the age of over 50. The researchers were actually able to identify two creative high points in life: We have the first phase of particularly strong creativity between the ages of 25 and 29, the second, larger high phase only follows in our mid-50s.

In addition, the scientists were able to determine a connection between the working method and the high phases. Accordingly, the creative peak depends on whether you take a "conceptual" or an "experimental" approach. Sounds complicated, but both forms are easy to explain:

  • Conceptual creativity
    This form occurs in the early stages of the career. It is characterized by constant questioning of knowledge and prevailing procedures. We think outside the box in order to generate new ideas and find creative approaches. This creativity is made possible because one has not adapted to accepted theories, working methods and behavior. There is a critical discussion that leads to innovations.
  • Experimental creativity
    In the mid-50s, this type of creativity gains weight. This experimental form is characterized by the fact that knowledge, experience and skills have been built up over the years. From this, new ideas (synaptically) are derived and developed. It is like crystalline intelligence: it is the ability to solve complex tasks through stored knowledge or to transfer one's own wealth of experience to other areas.

How do creativity and intelligence belong together?

Science today agrees that there is a strong correlation between creativity and intelligence. The question of what is cause and what is effect is similar to the question of chicken or egg. Studies by researchers Robert Sternberg and Linda O’Hara from Yale University come to the conclusion that creativity is just as much a form of intelligence as intelligence is a form of creativity. Both abilities condition and influence each other. Anyone who is creative is therefore always clever in a special way.

What are the characteristics of creative people?

Creative people regularly deviate from the norm in their thinking. It is characterized by a multitude of properties that can also be promoted. These include, for example, features such as:

  • openness
    Creative people are very open and curious. These are reflected in personality traits such as willingness to experiment, thirst for knowledge, artistic interest and a broad general education. In combination, they prevent a creative mind from becoming a professional idiot.
  • spontaneity
    Creative people are characterized by a high degree of spontaneity. However, this is not lived out impulsively, but rather artistically channeled. You are trying new ways to avoid thinking along deadlocked paths. In addition, there is a good pinch of humor to keep the lightness.
  • flexibility
    Adaptability and mental flexibility are closely linked to creativity. Creative people can easily change perspective. Their wealth of knowledge and empathy enable them to look at things from a different perspective and to try out various possible combinations. In short: creative people have a talent for improvisation.
  • Taking risks
    Creative people are sometimes just bubbling over with ideas. However, they also try a lot of different things so that they are often perceived as eccentric. Their creativity feeds on the risks they take. But they don't bother them. In this regard, too, their thinking is rather unconventional.
  • Self-confidence
    Creative people are used to being perceived from the outside as “different” or even “crazy”. That doesn't bother them, on the contrary: Quite a few creative people enjoy the attention. It is no coincidence that many of these types can be found in art and (like) to be in the spotlight. At the same time, creative people have a high level of self-confidence that makes them independent of the opinion of others. So they are not afraid to tread unusual paths and question existing rules.

We have summarized in this PDF what also distinguishes creative people.

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March 3, 2021Author: Jochen Mai

Jochen Mai is the founder and editor-in-chief of the career bible. The author of several books lectures at the TH Köln and is a sought-after keynote speaker, coach and consultant.

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