7 reasons why you’re not very creative

…and how to change that.

While everybody can be creative, most people are not. You are most likely not as creative as you could be. Here are 7 reasons why:

1. You stop at your first good idea
While your idea might be good, there is almost always a better alternative. Most people won’t ever find this alternative, simply because they won’t bother to look for it. A good idea is fine, but a brilliant idea is what will set your business apart.

2. You want to be an expert
How can this possibly be a bad thing? Being an expert in your profession is what gets you paid isn’t it? Here’s the thing: if you are too focussed on gathering information on your expert area, you might miss out on valuable information outside this area. Creative minds consume lots of vastly different content. So this month, forget about your trade magazine and pick up a copy of a magazine on agriculture, dance, air traffic management or history.

3. You’re afraid to fail
Not many people are comfortable with failure. Most of us want to avoid risks as much as possible. Failure in our minds is one of the worst things that can happen. Taking risks, therefore, is scary. Unfortunately, an important part of creativity is trying out new things. Or to quote George Lois: “You can be cautious or you can be creative, but there’s no such thing as a cautious creative.” If you want to be creative, experiment and take calculated risks.

4. You don’t ask enough questions
Great thinkers like Da Vinci and Einstein asked lots and lots of questions. These geniuses challenged every assumption they encountered. They never stopped asking questions like a child. Like them, you should be willing to question accepted knowledge. Challenging assumptions is what separates creative leaders from the people who follow the herd.

5. You don’t read enough fiction
On a regular basis, I have to remind myself not to make this mistake. Many of us (and I’m no exception) will favour non-fiction over fiction. It makes sense to tell yourself that fact-based information is going to help your business more than made-up stories. But where non-fiction feeds our knowledge, fictional stories feed our creativity. Don’t neglect your fantasy. Read a novel, watch a science fiction film or play a computer game. Be inspired.

6. You suffer from limiting beliefs
Have you ever caught yourself thinking ‘creativity is not important in my profession’ or ‘creativity is a gift that only artists are blessed with’? You’d be wise to never tell yourself this nonsense ever again. Many people believe they will never be creative. They also believe they don’t have to. They’re wrong. Henry Ford was right when he said: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” The only thing stopping you from being creative is your own disbelief. Creative thinking is all about psychology. Creativity is a skill and can be learned. Anyone can become a creative thinker, and anyone can become better at it by training. All you have to do is start learning and start practising. (but hey, you’re here so you’re halfway there already!)

7. You listen to the people around you
Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to consider the opinions of others. Feedback and criticism can lift your ideas to a higher level. However, early criticism can kill newborn ideas before they get the chance to evolve. Feel free to ignore the early critics for a little while. Work on your ideas first. Ask the critics to help you evaluate your idea… as long as they’re willing to also look for benefits.

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Flickr Creative Commons Image via Frank Tellez.

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