May 19, 2016
by Chuck Frey
We’re living in the Creative Age, where ideas are the coin of the realm. Are you prepared to leverage the opportunities it can bring your way?
During the Industrial Age, brawn ruled the day. Only a relative handful of leaders and managers were paid to think creatively about the organization’s present health and future growth. Change happened slowly and gradually, which made it possible to build huge economies of scale around mass-produced goods and services. Innovation was limited to an anointed few in R&D or in an off-campus “skunk works.” Simply put, the average worker was paid to carry out orders, not to be creative.
Creativity: A key skill today
How times have changed. After the last half-decade of discontinuous change, companies are slowly realizing that innovation is fast becoming one of the only remaining sources of sustainable competitive advantage. To thrive, they need the best creative ideas, no matter what the source. This has opened up huge chasms of opportunity for enterprising, creative individuals to think deeply and broadly about their organization’s challenges and develop new solutions that will delight customers, outpace competitors and drive growth.
Even if you’re working for a company that isn’t committed to innovation, you can still bring a more creative attitude to your job and thus enhance it. Imagine the shot in the arm you could give to your career if you could position yourself as the person who can look at any situation no matter how complex and come up with a creative and inspired solution to it.
A daily regimen of creativity
Creativity has always been important. More than 20 years ago, deep thinkers like the late Earl Nightingale, the dean of personal development, espoused its virtues as a key to personal success, and a top-notch strategy for differentiating your work from your peers.
Nightingale practiced what he preached. Each morning, he sat down in quiet spot with a cup of coffee, a pad of legal paper and a pencil. He invested 30 to 60 minutes in creative thinking and problem solving. Using this simple discipline, he was able to fashion a spectacular career utilizing only the most rudimentary of creative thinking tools.
How to develop your creative muscles
Creativity isn’t an inherited trait that you either have or you don’t. It’s a skill that can be learned and cultivated through daily practice. If you want to learn more about it, read some books like Michael Michalko’s Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative-Thinking Techniques, Jordan Ayan’s Aha! 10 Ways to Free Your Creative Spirit and Find Your Great Ideas or How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day by Michael Gelb. Information about popular, proven creative problem solving techniques is also available online. All you need to do is look for it.
In addition, you have access to a powerful array of brainstorming and problem solving tools – both analog and digital – that can help us to come up with the winning idea. I’ve written about them for years, and am a big believer in using them as a catalyst to spur my thinking in fresh, new directions.
Creative thinking and problem solving skills are more important than ever today. Why not cultivate your muse and accelerate your career? The time is now. Let’s go!
This post originally appeared on the Chuck Frey blog.
Photo credit: Flickr user Melissa Petrie
About Chuck Frey
Chuck Frey is the director of online training for the Content Marketing Institute. He is also the founder and author of The Mind Mapping Software Blog, the world’s leading website covering visual mapping. In addition, he blogs about creativity, productivity and personal development strategies on his personal blog. He has extensive experience in public relations, online marketing, content development and marketing, business strategy and creative problem-solving techniques. He is an avid photographer. You can follow him on Twitter @ChuckFrey.