How to cultivate creativity

In an IBM global poll of business leaders, three in five CEOs cited creativity as the most desirable leadership quality, compared to one in two for integrity and one in three for a global mindset. These leaders – many of whom have decades of experience driving successful enterprises – have clearly seen how a creative leader and team can alter the fortunes of a project or organisation for good.

Yet, while the merits of creativity aren’t too hard to grasp, what many business founders and managers struggle with is how to actually be creative. Fortunately, creativity isn’t something that’s exclusive to designers and artists alone; everyone can grow and nurture their creativity by making changes to their work and life routines. Let’s touch on four of these below.

  1. Try something new, often
    While routine can establish a helpful structure in your daily life, breaking away from them every so often is an effective way to wake up your creative muscles. By trying something new, you view things from a fresh perspective and develop a renewed confidence in risk-taking.
    Paint and sip events have been on the rise in Australia, as the demand for leisurely creative activities has grown. Classe Petit runs such art classes in Melbourne and has welcomed a wide range of professions – from accountants, pharmacists to even patent lawyers – to participate in an artistic process completely out of their comfort zone.
    It doesn’t always have to be a creative or artistic endeavour and neither does it have to be a grand gesture. Getting out of your comfort zone could be as simple as taking a different route to work, having coffee at a new café, going on a blind date or cooking a dish you’ve never heard of before.
  2. Play with children
    When we enter adulthood and especially once we join the workforce, there’s a pressure to carry ourselves in a respectable, dignified way. Our speech and actions, especially in the workplace, are carefully weighed to make sure they conform to what we consider the standards acceptable to society.
    You can escape this straitjacket thinking by finding opportunities to engage with kids. Children are adventurous, open-minded, curious, imaginative and unscripted. It’s an approach to life that business leaders can adopt and benefit from.
  3. Have a drink
    You’re probably a little surprised to see this here. Alcohol is of itself not detrimental to work and productivity; it’s alcohol abuse that is. Drinking too much impairs cognitive function and lowers inhibitions.
    Nevertheless, a 2017 study found that taking small amounts of alcohol does stimulate certain elements of creative cognition. It concluded that higher cognitive control (such as in a person with no alcohol in their system) is not necessarily synonymous with better cognitive performance. A drink can be effective when you are uptight and having difficulty thinking through a challenge.
  4. Hit the creativity gym every day
    Creativity isn’t something you do once a year then get back to your rigid, predictable routine for another 12 months. It’s most effective when practised every day. It’s like a muscle and can only be strengthened if it’s exerted daily.
    The good thing is you don’t need hours each day to exercise creativity. It can be as simple as taking a couple of minutes to create a doodle during your lunch break or work commute. Allow your thoughts to flow freely and don’t be fixated on perfection.

Creativity provides the motivation, inspiration and energy you need to drive your business and stay a step ahead of your competition. Apply these tips to lead your organisation to the next level.

Sheng Yi Lee, Founder and Artist, Classe Petit 

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