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10 Ways To Be The Most Creative (and Indispensable) Person At Your Work

10 Ways To Be The Most Creative (and Indispensable) Person At Your Work

“Creativity is just connecting things.” — Steve Jobs

Does your thinking about creativity go something like this: Creativity seems to be a lucky gift bestowed upon just a few souls. Creative people swoop in and save the day when a fresh idea is needed to overcome a product’s or a company’s current weakness. But you’ll never be Steve Jobs or Don Draper, instead you mill away with your uncreative life, resigned to the knowledge that you just don’t have that gift. Meanwhile the ‘idea guys’ (or girls) move ahead and wow their superiors.

This view is erroneous in many ways. The most important way in which it’s wrong is its complete misunderstanding of what creativity is. Creativity isn’t just the ability to brainstorm, or come up with fanciful artistic concepts. Creativity is about making connections between ideas in a unique way. And that’s something that we can all do, because the connections we make are all unique to us.

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Maybe you’re the only salsa dancer in your corporation. Or, while everyone in your office loves Duck Dynasty, you’re the only adult that can honestly say you still watch Scooby-Doo cartoons on the weekends. These traits are unique to you and the connections you make with them will be the key to creating unique ideas.

What follows are 10 tips and tools for drawing those unique connections out and using them to become the most creative you possible:

1. Realize The Connections You Make Are Unique

You are the only one who has your life experience, and it’s the connections this experience generates that lead to creativity. Realizing that the ideas you’re having are unique to you as an individual lends them credence, they’re not to be taken lightly because they are ideas only you could have developed.

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2. Learn About The Subject

Learning fertilizes new ideas. When you learn about a subject your brain is firing at full speed, making new connections to aid your understanding; these new connections are the ‘creativity’ you seek. Pick up a book about the subject you’re trying to tackle. I guarantee by the end of the first chapter you’ll notice all the new connections your mind is generating as you learn the subject matter.

3. Talk To Someone Else

Ideally it would be someone who knows more about the subject than you do. For instance emailing an advertising blogger and asking for a few minutes to chat on the phone about a marketing strategy your company is looking to develop. Or, on the other hand, someone totally unlike yourself — your cousin’s boyfriend who manages a coffee shop, or your friend’s cousin who is an aspiring country music star. Take the them and your common friend out for coffee and talk about the project, then listen to what they think. And really listen, they see the world differently from you and the connections they make will be unlike any connections made by you or your co-workers.

4. Come Up With Bad Ideas

Take a piece of paper and resolve to fill it up with ideas, even if you need just one. Then write the ideas you have down, not just the good ones, but the bad ones, too. Fill that sheet of paper up and pare down the bad ideas after you finish. But get the bad ideas onto the paper because oftentimes bad ideas lead to great ones later on.

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5. Write Your Ideas Down

Your brain is making unique connections all day long, you can’t help it. When you go to the grocery store and see a new display, when you read a book, or when you watch a movie your brain is making connections. You simply don’t notice them, so start writing these connections down. Keep a notepad on you and write down these creative (sometimes silly) ideas. This will get you used to noticing these connections and will make it easier for you to generate new ideas when you’re called upon to do so.

6. Learn New Things

This differs from tip number 2 because it doesn’t have to pertain to a specific subject. Even if something doesn’t relate directly to your life or your work, learn about it. New things create new connections. It’s completely possible that the documentary you watched on Leonardo da Vinci could create a connection that seems like creativity gold to your manager at work. So, anything you want to learn about — art, music, anything — can lead to new connections and fresh ideas.

7. Do Creative Things

Whether it’s sketching, painting, writing short stories, or woodworking, nurse your creative gene if you want your creativity to become more reliable. The more creative you allow your life to be, the more creative you can be at work, where your creativity will count.

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8. Travel More

It doesn’t have to be a weekend in the Caribbean, but a short drive to the country to hit up the rural fruit stands will create new experiences for you. New experiences are the foundation for new connections, so start collecting new experiences with weekend drives to the other side of town where you can go for a short walk or try a new restaurant.

9. Join A Club

This is like a steroid shot for boosting creativity. You gain a wealth of new knowledge, new experiences, and new interactions in a short period of time. Your brain is racing to create new connections and your creativity level shoots through the roof. In addition to this, clubs are a great place to network. Meetup.com is a great place to find all kinds of clubs for a variety of interests.

10. Be Present

When you’re thinking about what you want for dinner tonight your brain is ignoring the stimuli around it and is instead taking a predictable, uncreative route. Instead, try and be present more often, allow your brain to take note of what is being said around you, what you’re seeing, and even what you’re thinking, let these connections flow and use them to get comfortable generating new ideas.

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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