Creativity is a skill we can all learn—but it takes practice. Here’s how to cultivate creativity in your daily routine.
Are you the creative one in the office, bubbling with suggestions at meetings? Believe one good idea will impress your entire team? Convinced creativity is part of your character?
The truth is that the creative genius is a myth. Creativity is a skill we can all learn. And like any other skill, creative thinking requires practice.
Here are five ways to develop your creative thinking and use it to your advantage in the workplace:
1. Devour books
Read voraciously. Try biographies of great minds, thought-provoking fiction or leadership guides. Keep up with trade publications in your field. Watch TED talks and reading inspiring blogs.
2. Observe the great
Keep an eye open and a notebook ready. Who are the smartest and most creative people in your office? Pay close attention to how those people work to see the process behind the good ideas—or take your coworker out for a coffee and have a chat about how he or she goes about solving problems.
If your job gives you the opportunity to travel to conferences, go. Panels likely to generate debate are great ones to attend. Listen to how the debaters structure their arguments and back it up with their original findings.
3. Break out of the bubble
Being good at one thing is so ’90s. Lateral thinking and multidisciplinary knowledge is the new normal.
What does that mean for you? Take a dance class, take up painting, study philosophy or turn your backyard into an English rose garden. Fresh ideas will carry over to your career.
4. Question life, the universe and everything
Learning to question others—and, perhaps most importantly, yourself—will teach you to find smaller issues and weaknesses in your Great Big Idea that need to be addressed.
Questioning doesn’t have to mean being the annoying coworker who challenges everyone. Instead, hone this critical thinking skill by trying these exercises:
- After reading a novel, imagine five questions you’d ask the main character.
- During a presentation, write down three questions you’d ask the speaker.
- While watching the news, think of a question you’d ask the reporter.
5. Daily creativity challenge
Challenge yourself to do something creative every day. Consider this housekeeping necessary to keep your creative skills shining. Remember: practice and motivation are the key ingredients to success.
Eva Lantsoght (@evalantsoght) is a structural engineer, concrete researcher, online writer, academic blogger and music journalist with a passion for science, arts and travel.