“All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning. Great works are often born on a street corner or in a restaurant’s revolving door.”
– Albert Camus
Whether you want to boost creativity for art, business or personal purposes, these techniques will help give your creativity and your project a kickstart. Choose one, two, or try them all! The magic of creativity is that there is no set process or rule book — it’s about experimenting, adopting a lateral thinking mindset and making an effort to start, no matter how ridiculous or bad you think your ideas are.
1. Combine opposites
Regardless of your reasons for wanting to boost your creativity, combining seemingly random concepts, ideas, words, and things together often produces something entirely original. If you haven’t got long to think up ideas and you have to be original and innovative, combining opposites might work for you. Many artists throughout history have used this technique as a method for creating original pieces. Mona Hatoum is one example.Advertising
2. Realize that creativity is a process
Contrary to what many people believe, the whole lightbulb eureka moment often occurs as a result of a long process rather than being something totally out of the blue. If you want to boost your creativity, you can’t expect to be instantly filled with creative ideas. Write your ideas down, play, explore, and more importantly, recognize that creativity is a process that can be continuously developed and expanded.
3. Look at others in your field
I don’t believe in copying someone else’s hard work at all; however, it’s really important to be aware of other artists, designers, or businesses that you like. Ask yourself: What are they doing well? What do I like about it? What can I use as a starting point to develop my own projects? Become an expert in your field and make yourself aware of what others are doing — only then will you be able to spot gaps and different ways of doing things.
4. Don’t get a brainstorm group
Ever read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking? Susan Cain goes into great detail, backed with evidence that suggests that creative brainstorming groups actually hinder creativity, resulting in individuals in the group becoming less creative.
5. Use mind maps
Start with your central theme in the middle; create four sub-themes from the central point and start to expand each sub-theme further using singular words to illustrate your points. This doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s a good way of laying all your thoughts out in some sort of a visual structure you can look at clearly. You’ll also be able to see which areas need developing, changing or removing.Advertising
6. Keep a notebook handy
Whether it’s your iPad, notebook or scraps of paper, this one goes without saying. You must write down or draw your thoughts, ideas and concepts, no matter how ridiculous or stupid they might sound. You might find that when you revisit ideas, they’ll trigger new ones you’ll then be able to expand upon.
7. Restrict yourself
Sometimes creativity can be stunted when you’ve got too much to play around with. Try limiting yourself; for example, providing yourself with a theme. Sometimes when people are trying to be more creative they can skim over the surface of lots of different ideas and concepts rather than really choosing to hone in on one.
8. Create obstructions
If you’ve got a spare hour or so, watch The Five Obstructions — it’s a documentary about several filmmakers who give each other obstructions to help boost creativity. You could employ the same technique whether you are an artist or not. The concept is about getting out of your comfort zone and doing things you usually do in different ways by giving yourself obstructions. This forces you not to work in a tried and tested manner. If you’re working in a group, you could write down rules or obstructions on bits of paper then take it in turns to pull ideas out of the hat.
9. Feel free
Exercise and get the endorphins flowing; smile at the little things; laugh more… Contrary to popular belief, being creative isn’t about being depressed and miserable. When you’re happy, you’ll feel freer and more responsive to the world around you, which in return will help to boost your creativity.Advertising
10. Let your logical mind rest for a bit
Creativity is hard to pin down; there is no ‘one size fits all’ creativity-boosting rule book. So, when you find yourself cutting ideas off or telling others why something couldn’t possibly work, bite your tongue, because great creative ideas often have a ridiculous, totally illogical beginning. It’s how you respond to the idea that counts.
11. See the world through the eyes of a creative person
“Art is everywhere, except it has to pass through a creative mind.”
— Louise Nevelson
Spend the day capturing the world through a camera, paint spontaneously, dance, write down your observations. Take inspiration from a creative person you admire and imitate what they do for a day to get an idea of how they see the world. Sometimes just a slight shift in outlook can give your creativity a massive boost.Advertising
12. Start now
Be a doer and certainly don’t stop yourself before you’ve even started. This one is probably the most important. Do something small each day to help you boost your creativity, even if this means simply writing down your thoughts and ideas. It’ll really help you in the long run. Creativity, after all, is a journey that can take many interesting twists and turns — you have to start it to really reap the results.
Finally, if anyone else has any creativity-boosting ideas, please share them below. I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you’re after further reading, check out lateral thinking author, Edward de Bono.
Last Updated on March 15, 2019
How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential
When I began managing people 15 years ago, I thought having a fancy title was synonymous with influence. Over time, I learned that power is conferred based on likeability, authenticity, courage, relationships and consistent behavior. When leaders cultivate these attributes, they earn power, which really means influence.
Understanding influence is essential to professional growth, and companies rise and fall based on the quality of their leadership.
In this article, we will look into the essentials of effective leadership and how to be a leader who is inspiring and influential.
Table of Contents
What Makes a Leader Fail?
A host of factors influence a leader’s ability to succeed. To the extent that leaders fail to outline a compelling vision and strategy, they risk losing the trust and confidence of their teams. Employees want to know where a company is going and the strategy for how they will get there. Having this information enables employees to feel safe, and it allows them to see mistakes as part of the learning journey versus as fatal occurrences.
If employees and customers do not believe a company’s leadership is authentic and inspiring, they may disengage, or they may be less inclined to offer constructive criticism that can help a company innovate or help a leader improve.
And it is not just the leadership at the top that matters. Middle managers play a distinct role in guiding teams. Depending on the company’s size, employees may have more access to mid-level managers than they do members of the C-suite, meaning their supervisors and managers have greater influence on the employee and the customer experience.
What Is Effective Leadership?
Effective leadership is inspiring, and it is influential. Cultivating inspiring and influential leaders requires building relationships across the company.
Leaders must be connected to both the teams they lead as well as to their own colleagues and managers. This is key as titles do not make a person a leader, nor do they automatically confer influence. These are earned through trusting relationships. This explains why some leaders can get more out of their teams than others and why some leaders experience soaring profits and engagement while others sizzle out.
Eric Garton said in an April 25, 2017, Harvard Business Review article:
“… inspiring leaders are those who use their unique combination of strengths to motivate individuals and teams to take on bold missions – and hold them accountable for results. And they unlock higher performance through empowerment, not command and control.”
How to Be an Inspiring and Influential Leader
To be an inspiring and influential leader requires:
The late poet Maya Angelou once said,
“Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.”
Courage is required in the workplace when implementing new strategies, especially when they go against professional norms.
For instance, I heard Lisa TerKeurst, bestselling author and founder of Proverbs 31 Ministries, explain her decision to move away from her company’s magazine. While the organization had long had a magazine, she saw a future where it didn’t exist.
In order to make the switch, she risked angering her team members and customers. She took a chance, and what started out as a monthly newsletter, has grown into a multi-dimensional organization boasting half a million followers. Had Lisa not found the courage to change the direction of her organization, they undoubtedly would not have been able to experience such exponential growth.
It also takes courage to give and receive feedback. When leaders see employees who are not living into the company’s mission or who are engaging in behavior that may undermine their long-term success, one must risk temporary angst and speak candidly with the colleague in question.
Similarly, it takes courage to hear constructive criticism and try to change. In business, as in life, courage is necessary for being an inspiring and influential leader.
2. A Commitment to Face Your Internal Demons.
If you feel great about yourself, enter a leadership position. You are likely to be triggered in ways you didn’t think possible. You are also likely to receive feedback that may leave you second-guessing yourself and your leadership skills.
The truth about leading others is that you get to a point where you realize that it is difficult to take people to places where you yourself haven’t gone.
To be an influential and inspiring leader, you have to face your own demons and vow to continually improve. Influential leaders take their personal evolution serious, and they invest in coaching, therapy and mindfulness to ensure that their personal struggles do not overshadow their professional development.
3. A Willingness to Accept Feedback
Inspiring and influential leaders are not afraid to accept feedback. In fact, they actively solicit it. They understand that everyone in their life has a lesson to teach them, and they are willing to accept it.
Inspirational leaders understand that feedback is neither good nor bad but rather an offering that is critical to growth. Even when it hurts or is an affront to the ego, influential leaders understand that feedback is critical to their ability to lead.
Some people will argue that leaders need not worry about being liked but should instead focus on being respected. I disagree. Both are important.
When team members like their boss and believe their boss likes them, they are more likely to go the extra mile to fulfill departmental or organizational goals. Likable leaders are moved to the front of the line when it comes to being influential.
Relatedly, when colleagues feel management dislikes them, they experience internal stress and can spend unnecessary time focusing on the source of their manager’s discontent versus the work they have been hired to do.
So, likability is important for both the leader and the people she leads.
Vulnerability is critical for being an inspiring leader. People want the truth. They admire leaders who can occasionally demonstrate vulnerability. It promotes deeper relationships and inspires trust.
When leaders can showcase vulnerability appropriately, they destroy the illusion that one must be perfect to be a leader. They also demonstrate that vulnerability is not a dirty word; they too can be vulnerable and ask for a helping hand when necessary.
Authenticity is about living up to one’s stated values in public and behind closed doors.
Influential leaders are authentic. They set to live out their values and use those values to guide their decisions. The interesting thing about leadership is that people are not looking for perfect leaders. They are, in part, looking for leaders who are authentic.
7. A True Understanding of Inspiration
Effective leaders are inspirational. They understand the power of words and deeds and use both strategically.
Inspiring leaders appropriately use stories and narratives to enable the teams around them to see common situations in an entirely new light.
Inspirational leaders also showcase grit and triumph while convincing the people around them that success and victory are attainable.
Finally, inspiring leaders encourage the teams they lead to tap into their own genius. They convince others that genius is not reserved for a select few but that most people have it in them.
As explained in the article True Leadership: What Separates a Leader from a Boss:
“A leader creates visions and motivates team members to work together towards the same goal.”
8. An Ability to See the Humanity in Others
Inspiring and influential leaders see the humanity in others. Rather than treating their teams as mere tools to accomplish organizational goals, they believe the people around them are unique beings with inherent value.
This means knowing when to pause to address personal challenges and dispelling with the myth that the personal is separate from the professional.
9. A Passion for Continual Learning
Inspiring and influential leaders are committed to continual learning. They invest in their own development and take responsibility for their professional growth.
These leaders understand that like a college campus, the workplace is a laboratory for learning. They believe that they can learn from multiple generations in the workplace as well as from people from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.
Influential leaders proactively seek out opportunities for learning.
The Bottom Line
No one said leadership was easy, but it is also a joy. Influencing others to action and positively impacting the lives of others is a reward unto itself.
Since leadership abounds, there is an abundance of resources to help you grow into the type of leader who inspires and influences others.
More Resources About Effective Leadership
- Leadership vs Management: Is One Better Than the Other?
- Master These 10 Management Skills to Become a Strong Leader
- 15 Inspiring Books Every Leader Should Not
- Why Leadership and Management Are Two Sides of a Coin
Featured photo credit: Markus Spiske via unsplash.com
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