How often have we heard that phrase, “be creative”, typically from within our own brains? When confronted with an unfamiliar problem, and we can’t find a ready solution, what do we do? Today, most people start by doing a Google search. Indeed, search engines have proved to be immensely useful in our lives. After hours of searching, and scanning articles, what’s next? Ask a friend. If no one is available or has a suggestion, then we’re back to dealing with the problem ourselves. Get creative.
How are we supposed to “become creative”? Suppose we’ve already exhausted our creativity looking for sources of information. Then, what? Where is the real challenge – in the problem itself or in our brains? What is going on in our minds that might work against our ability to be creative?
Let’s ask ourselves: How are we looking at the problem? Do we believe that we have sufficient knowledge to come up with a solution, that we have access to all the pieces of information needed to complete the puzzle? Is that assumption valid? If true, does that belief lead us to beat ourselves up when we fail?
What makes us comfortable (or uncomfortable)? We like to think we know what we know. How do we feel when we work with what we know? isn’t it easier to work with people who think the same way as we do? But — do they challenge us enough?
How often does our own comfort zone become a limitation on our problem-solving ability?
For another point of view on what it takes to be creative, check out an interesting article by Professor Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks, of the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, who explains why novel ideas don’t just come to us like flipping on a light switch.