Why Aren’t You Creative?
A few years ago, I did a column where I talked about how companies were scared to get creative, to try something new. I even came up with a list of 50 reasons “Why it Won’t Work.” I’ve been flattered over the years since then that people not only remember that column, but can actually cite some of the reasons why something won’t work.
I was reminded of this yesterday while reading a book by management guru John Maxwell titled How Successful People Think. It’s a good one and I recommend it highly.
I got a kick from his chapters on creativity. He not only reminded me of The Fifty Reasons Why It Won’t Work, but he had a whole new list of what he calls “creativity killers.”
The book is loaded with a lot of fun quotes from famous people and here is a taste of some of the great ones.
“What luck it is for leaders that people do not think.” Adolf Hitler
“ It is a dull man who is always sure, and the sure man who is always dull.” H.L. Menken
“There is a correlation between the creative and the screwball.” Kingman Brewster
And my favorite from Tom Peters, “Weed out the dullards and nurture the nuts”
I guess I like that one particularly, because I am kind of a nut myself, and I have never met an idea I did not want to promote.
Here from the Maxwell book are some reasons to be creative:
- Creative thinking adds value to everything. Creativity is being able to see what everybody else has seen and think what nobody else has thought so that you can do what nobody else has done.
- Creative thinking compounds. To explain, in the wise words of Maya Angelou, “You can’t use up creativity, the more you use the more you have. Sadly, too often creativity is smothered rather than nurtured. There has to be a climate in which new ways of thinking, perceiving, questioning are encouraged.:
- Creative thinking draws people to you and your ideas. People like creative people and they are attracted to them (until they are asked to follow them out of their comfort zone. That’s when the fun stops for too many people).
- Creative thinking helps you learn more. “ Creativity is the joy of not knowing it all. The joy of not knowing it all refers to the realization that we seldom if ever have all the answers; we always have the ability to generate more solutions to just about any problem. Being creative is being to see or imagine a great deal of opportunity in life’s problems. Creativity is having options.” Creativity expert Ernie Zelinski.
- Creative thinking challenges the status quo. While creativity and innovation go hand in hand, creativity and status quo are incompatible.
And that ladies and gentlemen is what we are fighting against every day. We just don’t have the drive to break out of our comfort zone. I’m not sure if it’s fear of the unknown, or fear of failure, or fear of change, all I know is there is in all industries, especially ours, a fear of trying anything new. To even think of trying anything new.
It seems like everyone admires Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and George Lucas but no one has the fortitude to do what it takes to be like them.
To get your started in thinking creatively ask yourself these questions:
- Why must it be done this way?
- What is the root problem?
- What are the underlying issues?
- What does this remind me of?
- What is the opposite?
- What metaphor or symbol helps to explain it?
- Why is it important?
- What’s the hardest or most expensive way to do it?
- Who has a different perspective on this?
- What happens if we don’t do it at all?
And I might add one other thought. Often doing nothing is the most dangerous path to take.
Even in hard times like this pandemic. Which would be a perfect time to try something new, something different people are reluctant to do so. WHY? I don’t know and I gave up trying to understand.
But look, I will take one more stab at it. If you do nothing else this week read a business book. Heck read this business book How Successful People Think by John Maxwell. It’s a really good read just full of ideas on how to be creative and how to get other people to be creative. And the best thing is that it’s just a small book, only a little over 100 pages, so you’ll be able to get through it in practically one sitting.
If you promise me you will read this book, I’ll promise you that you will get some very good creative ideas from it that will help you make your career, your business and your life that much more rewarding.
You won’t know what you’re missing until you try it. As Sam Ewing once said, “Nothing is so embarrassing as watching someone do something that you said couldn’t be done.”
It’s only common sense.