Tips to be creative

Are you creative or can you be creative?

I have met people who say that they are not creative. They accept things as given and do not even try to be. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy so to say. They will never come up with a bright idea because they do not consider even having one.

Ironically there are others, who when confronted with a problem, do not step back but step forward. They do not accept the status quo and give it a shot. They think of finding a solution and the fear of ridicule and failure is secondary. Some of the greatest inventors had hundreds of ideas before they came up with one bright one. This group creates the other stagnates.

What’s the difference between the two? — Their mindset.

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try” – Dr. Seuss

Creativity is just another skill

I have always been considered creative by others. In school it was because I was good at drawing and later at work, it was because I came up with solutions.

Drawing is a skill and so is coming up with ideas. Why this? Both require input to generate output, and both follow the same three step process:


  • Understand
  • Schematize
  • Create variants

When you want to draw a new object you first have to understand it. You observe its form, its proportions and how the details like shadows interact.

When solving a problem, you necessarily do the same. You gather information, schematize it through analysis, look at the elements, the whole and then consider possible variants that may meet the requirements.

It is a methodical process that can be learned and replicated.

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while” – Steve Jobs

Do you want to have better ideas?

From my experience when you are solving problems your mind automatically gets sharpened and focused on the task. However, more often then not the mind can get stuck and you end up, thinking within the standard context. You think within the box and you end up focusing more on your restraints than the actual goal: to look for a solution.

"Creativity is intelligence having fun." -- Albert Einstein

Think outside the box

The things that have helped me when I got stuck were the following:

  • Focus on the resources you have, all of them and not only those closely related to the problem at hand
  • Get access to different sets of information
  • Interact with many different people from different departments
  • Do some research, you probably are not the first to have this kind of problem
  • Consider other industries for research, their problems may not be the same but their approach to solve them can be
  • Stand up and go for a walk from time to time to clear your head (Trust me, it can work miracles!)

Can you train creativity? Yup, you can!

It is like a muscle, the more you use it the stronger it gets. It starts by being curious, and learning new things. To generate great output you need input. The more you know and the broader your knowledge base, the greater the pool of information you have access to.  Also the more you connect the dots and analyze the things you learn, the better you become.

I love to read and learn new things every day, which has broadened my sources for reflection and ideas. My advice therefore, if you want to be more creative is to do the following:

  • Do something new every day (cook a new recipe, learn a new sport, draw something, etc.)
  • Always think how you could improve something
  • Use the resources you have instead of getting new ones, to cook some food, make a present, etc.
  • Read something completely outside of your area of expertise
  • Meet new people and interest yourself in what they do

Here is an article I read. The article raises some valid points for creativity overall even though the target audience is people interested in design. Have a read and try out some new things.

Give it a shot you may be surprised!

Let me know what you do to get ideas? To choose the best ones? To realize them?


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