In 2010, IBM conducted a research across 1600 CEOs over 60 locations to find out the single most important skill which will help the companies survive and thrive into the next decade. Creativity was what most of the leaders voted for.
More recently, in its January 2019 report, LinkedIn has rated creativity as one of the most important on job skills in demand.
In an interview with Bloomberg TV, Mark Cuban, one of America’s most successful businessmen and investors, said that he worries that many jobs people consider to be safe simply won’t exist in a few years due to automation and being able to think creatively will be key to survival. He added that personally he feels that there is going to be a greater demand for liberal arts majors that programming in a decade from now.
What is creativity?
For a common man, creativity is often understood in terms of the ability to draw, illustrate or sketch well. More often than not, this understanding of creativity finds its roots in our early impressions in drawing or art classes when the teacher would call a person who could sketch and color well ‘creative’. And while that may be partially true, in today’s day and times, creativity is not limited to just the ability to illustrate your thoughts well but encompasses a much more exhaustive list of things.
As per the Oxford dictionary , creativity is defined as ‘ The use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness.’
Some of the most creative ideas around us can be actually two existing technologies combined into one. The example of todays’ smart phones are actually a combination of already existing things and technology – the mobile phone used to make and receive calls; the computer, which when connected to the internet gets the world inside our homes and the good old camera used for clicking pictures. The smart phone that we use combines the features and technologies of these products and adds on the benefit of convenience. Coming to think of it, how many of us actually carry a camera in our bags to click pictures anymore?
Creativity is often the differentiating factor in our day to day lives. How creatively can you think of a solution to a problem; write about an issue to the client; tackle the interviewers’ questions and numerous other such everyday cases require creativity.
Thinking out of the box and coming up with new more relevant ideas is the process and end result of creativity.
How do we enhance creativity ?
Given that the great minds living in our times have rated creativity as one of the most important skills to possess and thrive, it sure means that we need to think and act creatively. So how do we know whether we are creative and how do we get better at it?
Try answering the question ‘How creative do you think you are? as honestly as you can.
If we think we are not creative, the only person limiting the creativity is our own selves. Our creativity is often limited by our own thought process. It is a myth that creativity is only inborn and cannot be enhanced. The fact is that each one of us is creative and the real question is have we found out yet, what releases our innate creativity or not? As Vincent Van Gogh once said “If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”
To enhance creativity, subject experts recommend a lot of methods. Listed below are just a few, which are easy to practice and can be done on a fairly regular basis.
- Observe – Some of the most creative ideas can come up by simply observing things and people around us. Methods to do this can simply involve watching people around you and being curious about their lives. Some experts go an extra step and suggest eavesdropping into other’s conversations and gaining an insight about their lives. Yet others suggest trying to strike a conversation with absolute strangers. Whatever technique suits you, observation is a natural skill that each one of us possess and like any other skill, gets better with practice.
- Practise Randomness – while practice and randomness may sound like oxymorons, this is one thing that works wonders in enhancing your multidimensional thinking. Day dreaming has been proven to be a method to let your mind wander into random realms.
One of the fun exercises that you can do right away is to come up with different words starting from the initials of your first and last name and try establishing a connection between them. Eg for Joseph Cherian I could come up with Jungle Cohort and then try and imagine how those could connect and draw up a mental picture of the same.
Consciously thinking of words that do not connect with each other on your daily commute, while walking your dog or even while brushing your teeth, trains your mind to think in diverse directions and is an excellent way to enhance creatively.
- Take risks – The famous author, psychologist, philosopher and proponent of lateral thinking Edward De Bono said ‘ “It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to be always right by having no ideas at all. Taking risks may sound way easier than it actually is, research shows that people who take risks are more creative than their counterparts who would rather not try something new. The logic behind it is, that with every failure that you may face, you are closer to gaining a new insight.
- Give fresh perspective a chance – wherever you are , whatever you do, giving fresh perspective, an untrained eye a chance is something that all of us must practise. As the 3 M president William McKnight puts it “Listen to anyone with an original idea, no matter how absurd it may sound at first. If you put fences around people, you get sheep. Give people the room they need.”
Numerous other methods are available to enhance your creativity but the bottom line to remember is that the stone age didn’t end because they ran out of stones but that some one else came up with Bronze.
- Ted Talks on creativity – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-YScywp6AU.