Creativity has always come naturally to me from imaginary friends in my youth to innovation in technology as an adult. My mind is always swirling with ideas. I often say that I use my mind for creativity, not for storage. I think it’s important to recognize how your brain operates so you can improve the areas that need development.
“There is no innovation and creativity without failure.”
When it comes to creativity, many people believe you’re either born with it or you’re not. While some may be more naturally talented than you are, I don’t believe that to be the case. Believe it or not, there’s a bit of science and discipline behind creating that everyone can use to improve themselves. Below are a few hacks I consistently use:
1. Think Like a Kid
I don’t have to remind you how boring adults can be. We’re bogged down with responsibility and often stress that keeps us confined to an area where only normal people live. I don’t know too many normal artists, inventors or creators. Creativity is about pushing the limits of what is normal, thinking outside the box, and sometimes achieving what most people think is impossible. Can you imagine what Benjamin Franklin’s friends thought of his experiments with electricity?
While we don’t always have the luxury of setting aside our responsibilities, we can carve out time for wild, new and exciting experiences to open different parts of your mind, heart and spirit. Tap into nostalgia through childhood games and activities, or try something new altogether.
Dancing has always been a way for me to get loose, so I often blast the music and do my interpretive dancing. Sometimes I get so into it, I actually think I’m doing a good job. Create like no one’s watching!
2. Get Annoyed
When I’m annoyed it’s usually because a product or process is not working efficiently, or because I don’t have a product or process to address my problem at all. These are the times that we notice when things aren’t working right. Innovation is all about creating solutions and making life easier, so take note of the areas in which you are suffering, as those are the areas that require your creativity and problem solving.
Garrett Camp created Uber to address San Francisco’s serious taxi problem. What problems can you find solutions to?
3. Take Notes
Honestly, this hack in underrated, and quite frankly, the foundation for this entire VM platform – NOTES! I love taking Notes!
Reiterating my intro, “I use my mind for creativity, not for storage,” you’ll find my appreciation for notes. When you think of your brain as a computer, you’ll begin to understand that your memory capacity has limited storage, and when that memory storage gets full, your operating system slows down. Yes, this happens with the brain too! We rely so much on our minds; why not give it a bit of a break.
In one of the most utilized apps on my phone (Notes), I keep hundreds of notes in various categories that include – yep, you guessed it! – real estate, startups, food, health, etc., but my all-time favorite is business ventures. This is where I store all the running ideas or solutions to my problems. And because I use my phone as an alarm, it’s close by when I wake in the middle of the night with something absolutely genius that I would otherwise not remember in the morning.
It takes two seconds to jot down your ideas. When you do, they will become more real and obtainable.
4. Get Passionate
So now you have observed all the problems in the world, have written down hundreds of solutions and don’t know where to go from there.
Creation works best when you’re passionate about what you’re doing. It’s one thing not to know how to advance your creation, and another to be dispassionate about it all together. Figure out how you feel about advancing any of the ideas you’ve come up with. Is there one in particular that gets you excited, or an underlying theme that has a sustained interest?
This step is particularly important to me as my interests and ability to find solutions for a myriad of problems runs deep and wide. This can easily pull me in a thousand directions that I’m the least bit passionate about. And passion fuels drive.
Now that you know what you’re passionate about, take another look at your list. Are there ideas you can combine to create a better solution, or can you find a relationship between it and disparate things. Try to combine things in a unique way, to create truly unique inventions.
During my studies at NYU Stern, I took the Creativity course, not because I didn’t think I was creative, but I was curious how creativity could be taught. (You’ll have to come back for more of these tips.)
One of our first assignments was to observe problems we face daily, and possible solutions. At the time, I was having logistical problems and wished I could teleport. I know. I know. You’re thinking, teleporting is such an impossible solution. Maybe? But so was flying and traveling to space at one time.
That said, the problem is my inability to be in two places (or more) at one time. If you cannot actually teleport, can you mimic it? Are there other possible solutions? I don’t know, but holograms come to mind.
7. Make it Visual
Visuals bring your ideas to life and a great deal of excitement along with it. Sketch, draw or hire a designer or developer to create a mockup or working prototype of your product or platform, and get feedback on it.
8. Simply Begin!
Simply Begin should be No. 1 on the list, but ranks last to act as a reminder. There is no perfect time or process to use in creating. The key is to just begin where you are, and get comfortable being uncomfortable. To innovate is to give life to something new, which often means embarking on uncharted territory, and riding a new learning curve. This is where the excitement lives. Enjoy the ride!