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Warning: Use These 8 Steps for Creativity at Your Own Risk

Studies have shown that creative students are disciplined more often than less creative students even in classrooms where the teacher says that he or she values creativity. The same holds true for people in the workforce; creative employees are less likely to receive promotions and raises, even in companies that encourage their employees to be creative. Creativity comes with a risk. It’s up to you to decide if that risk is worth it.

  1. Take a Risk

If you’ve decided to take the risk and be creative, that’s a good start because you’ve already taken your first practice step. To be more creative, you’re going to need to take more risks. Your first solution to a problem might solve that problem adequately, but you need to go a little further to see if there’s a better solution. It’s a risk to take that time and the extra step, but it could pay big dividends with a better solution that solves multiple problems.

  • Take a Walk

The best ideas always seem to happen when you least expect them. In the shower, in the car, or when you’re on a walk. There are many theories about why it happens at these times; it may have to do with defocusing on the problem and relaxing a little, which removes the pressure and stress that can stifle creativity. Walking has the added advantage of improving blood flow and helping you be healthier. Plus, you can take a notebook and pen with you so you don’t lose the idea.

  • Take It Down

Always have a notebook with you. If you can’t carry a notebook, use your phone to record ideas and transcribe them later. Ideas can strike at any time. If you don’t record them, they will fade away like mist and be gone forever. Keep a notebook by your bed. Keep a waterproof one in the bathroom. Whatever it takes to harness your ideas, do it. The more ideas you record, the more you’ll get.

  • Start the Project

All of the ideas in the world won’t help you. You need to start working on one. Choose the best idea, choose the easiest idea, or choose the weirdest idea. It doesn’t matter which one you choose at first because you just want to get started on working on something. The idea may morph throughout the project, but unless you start, the idea will never exist at all. Write words on the page, put paint on the canvas, make the weld – whatever your medium, well begun is half done.

  • Finish the Project

Starting is great. Finishing is better. If you finish a project, you beat out all of the people who started and never completed their projects. By finishing the first project, you’ll get a sense of self-confidence that you can finish other projects. (The other projects may not be easier, but you’ll know that you’ve finished one, so you know you can finish more.)

  • Show the Results

This is one of the hardest things for any creative project and the person who created it. You’ve got to release it into the world. Some people won’t like it. Many more will be neutral about it. Some will love it, and some will actively fight against it. Sharing allows you to get your ideas out there, and it allows you to draw strength from those who will support you. This is especially important if you’re going to turn your creative efforts into a business or a way to move forward at your place of work.

  • Take a Rest

Even the best creators need to take time from their work to replenish their well. Resting from a creative activity includes doing those things that will help you create more later. New experiences, reading, movies, travel… the list is endless. Just give yourself some downtime before you move on to the next project.

  • Start a New Project

Hopefully, you don’t stop coming up with ideas while you’re working on your project. When you get ready to start again, you should have plenty of ideas to work on. Choose one and get started again. The more you work on your creativity and your creative process, the more creative you’ll become.

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The ABCs of Creativity: Risk

Being creative means taking risks. When you’re doing something new, that no one’s ever done before, or that you haven’t done before, you’re taking a risk. It may be a small risk; no one will see you mess up a canvas or write a sentence incorrectly. Or it may be a big risk: taking on an assignment at work that could decided the fate of the company. There are a lot of different kinds of risk in between.

When you stood up for the first time, you were taking a risk. You might lose your balance and fall. Of course, your baby mind didn’t really think of it like that. When you fell down, you probably cried and were comforted by your parent(s) or guardian. Then you got up and tried it again. Then maybe you took the next step, literally, after standing. That probably resulted in falling down to.

As a baby, you were used to taking those risks. If you were in diapers, it didn’t hurt a lot. Even if it did hurt, you didn’t mind after a while. You saw everyone else standing and walking, and you wanted to get there, too.

You probably continued to take risks growing up. Raising your hand to answer a question was a risk: if you got it right, kids might think you’re a know-it-all; get it wrong and the teacher might think you’re dumb. You probably learned that answering the question wasn’t worth it.

As an adult, if you suggested something new at work, you were probably met with objections and derision. That risk was bad enough. In some places, a creative person is seen as a threat.

But people are meant to be creative. If you want to become, if you want a happier overall life, if you want to make something, you’ve got to take the risk. You may fail, you may make mistakes, but if you do it right, you’ll have fun and learn more about who you are.

For more on creativity, get “Disneyland Is Creativity.” Order “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.

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Is the Creative Personality a Result of Genetic Predisposition for Needing Newness and Needing Stability?

Let your dreams be bigger than your fears

Csikszentmihalyi says that the creative personality is made up of seemingly opposite character traits. Creative people are extroverted and introverted. They are energetic and restful. They are smart and naïve. In all, he lists 10 different pairs of personality traits that many people would consider contradictory. Creative people have access to these modes of being and use them when the situation calls for it.

It is possible that these diametrically opposed traits come from the underlying genetic predisposition homo sapiens have regarding creativity. Human beings want safety and security; most of the population avoids risk taking. However, people also need to engage in finding the new and creating. It’s how the human race has survived. Taking risks is an important part of creating something, but the wrong risks could threaten your tribe’s existence.

It’s this constant push and pull that creative people face. Business say they want creativity, but they ignore new ideas and promote those who maintain the status quo. The give resources to the old products and leave research and development to flounder. When someone comes up with a way to change the corporate culture for greater profitability, the risk is seen as too great and that person is often ridiculed, especially if the change would’ve resulted in people losing their jobs or having to change their skills.

Even people who are interested in creativity will choose what they know over what they don’t. It takes a concerted effort or an ironclad argument to get people to change. When facing the effort it takes to introduce new patterns or changes that could fail to an organization and the associated risks, many people would rather hide their ideas and continue as if nothing will be different. Creative people would rather control the direction of the change, even if that means they aren’t really in control of what happens.

For more on creativity, get “Disneyland Is Creativity.” Order “Penguinate! Positive Creativity.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.”