Before we can get clear on your commitment to flex your creativity, let’s start with your definition of success.
Pick a project. Relationship. Or if you’re feeling brave, that problem you keep pushing to the side because it’s too overwhelming to consider.
We’re going to apply Design Theory, the exact process used daily at d.School that allows med students and MFAs to create life-saving surgical tools, but also what the kindergartner uses to draw their house. We start with …
Use your feelings, needs, hopes, and intuition to start brainstorming. No idea or concept or word is silly. Just go for it. Vision board (or just screen shot some cool pictures and save them to a word doc). Doodle. List things out. Mind map. Whatever comes to mind, zero judgement and no rules.
Think about any patterns you’ve noticed. Times you’ve asked yourself, well why can’t I ….?” or “what if this could just …?” Patterns and holes that start to unearth the possibilities. Like, “why the heck is everyone wearing PJs for clothes” or noticing “my elderly mom can’t tie her shoelaces anymore.”
Synthesis (aka Sense-Making)
This is where we take a step-back and look at ALL of our ideas. Start to circle or separate out the ones that seemingly link together. Again, you don’t need to know HOW or WHY right now, just trust your gut. If something jumps out at you, grab it. If another idea or concept looks cool, add it to your short list.
My FAVORITE analysis tool and this is complicated (I jest, it’s so simple it’s magic), is to simply ask:
- Which of these ideas do I love?
- Which of those ideas, the ones I love, can actually make money?
- Which of THOSE ideas (I love them and they could even be profitable) can I make happen NOW?
Ideation & Experimentation
This is where we go back to our highschool science class, and hypothesize.
I am going to run with the shoelace example from our brainstorming session and pattern-recognition because this was a direct experience.
My mother is older and has Parkinsons. It’s super important she gets out of the house and exercises. I visited regularly and noticed a significant degradation in her health.
Now, she’s not one to complain, but my oh my did she make it known she didn’t want to go for a walk when I insisted.
As she got ready I noticed she couldn’t get her sneakers on. She opted for a pair of flip flops (which, quite honestly, she can’t walk safely in anymore). I asked her about it, and she said something about shoelaces.
It occurred to me she couldn’t tie her shoelaces anymore, and I don’t think anyone gets excited about that new limitation in their life.
Thankfully, someone else had already noticed this pattern and asked themselves, how do we make safe, secure shoelaces for sneakers, but they don’t have to be tied?
The next day amazon prime delivered elastic laces, one with a sort of bolo-tie device, and others that looked like a curly pigs tail from a children’s story. She was delighted, she could wear her sneakers and feel safe while walking. And she hasn’t stopped since.
Now had someone sat down and thought “Maybe elastic? Nope that won’t do it, still have to tie the damn things,” this idea wouldn’t have ever helped my mom. OR if someone had thought, “Shoe laces DUMB who needs to improve them?!” well, you get my point.
They simply said, here’s a problem, here’s a potential solution, let’s test it. I imagine the very first prototype was probably a hair tie or rubber band, and it wouldn’t have solved the problem, but it was closer.
So they add curly kinks to hold the thing in place, then a zip tye. But maybe the first tie needed too much pressure, so they found a bolo-tie to hold fast without demanding much strength, and voila!
This is where most ideas get lost. What if the untieable shoelace inventor had designed this for kids. But parents want their kids to learn to tie their shoes, so no one bought. In fact people ridiculed and poo-poo’d this idea, turning it into the age old complaint that children are lazy and everyone’s looking for the easy way out.
The confident creator says, “I KNOW this idea is great, I TRUST this idea came to me because someone cried out for help! This is a POWERFUL solution to the right person. AH HA, who else can’t tie their shoes?”
And more voila …
This is the step where we test our concept in the wild. We see who may want it and why, how they use it and where, and we take those findings, and go back to step 1, inspiration.
How can we improve this idea even more?
That’s it! 4 simple steps to building your creative muscle and in turn, discovering your confidence, ensuring resilience, and powering through intractable problems with hope and trust, in YOU.
“You make it sound so easy?”
I sense you say (using my creativity). I mentioned building your creative muscle builds your resiliency.
Here’s why that matters………
When you default to that nasty habit of self-doubt, give yourself some resilience tools to accept that you may not know HOW this is going to work out, but if you did, you wouldn’t need to get creative in the first place?!
Resilience thrives when you understand you may have some doubts, but you can:
- Seek and accept help – phone a friend (hopefully someone more experienced in this conundrum than you), or do some research. Find an expert and illicit their advice, maybe in the form of a formal consultation or perhaps a mentorship? Most people like helping, and if they have the time, are happy to answer a question or two, at the very least
- Cultivate social support – Join a MeetUp or Facebook Group with a bunch of people who are also interested in this exploration. Build Mastermind, where you get together with some subject matter experts 1 x month, or better yet, get a group of peers all attempting the same challenge and huddle up 1 x week. And if you just need some accountability, let your best ball-buster mate know, I am trying to figure this out, and I’ll wear a t-shirt with I-heart-”picture of your face” for a month if I quit.
- Create connection – Look at your process, what’s a different angle to view it from? What if you asked the opposite question? What if you retraced your steps, and went further than when you even asked this question? Look back at how you’ve solved other seemingly impossible problems? What if you took a break and did something fun, or simply took a nap, and then came back to this? The wider you spin your web, the better chance of catching some inspiration.
The last, and best tip I may have for your creative workout is to have fun with it! I heard this term and even though I HATE the activity, the practice of creativity suddenly came alive. Think, Karaoke Confidence.
- Let your guard down and get silly, laughter will change everything
- Engage in heart-rate rising movement and soul-feeding activity, like singing at the top of your lungs, way out of tune
- Remember, there’s no “better than,” even the worst performance might be truly unique and memorable (and everyone rolls their eyes at the ringer)
- How can you let go of fear and judgement and just have fun with it?
- All you have to do to be successful is simply sign up and sign
- Finally, just let go and flow with the process, enjoy the moment