3 Ways to Practice Intentional Creativity

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According to Fast Company, creativity is now the most important leadership quality for success in business. Why is it, then, that so few leaders do little (or nothing) to make creative thinking a conscious part of their personal development?

In short, why do so few leaders practice intentional creativity?

Are you practicing intentional #creativity? #Leadership Click To Tweet

connect-20333_1920When I was producing my multiple Emmy® Award winning comedy TV show, Almost Live!, I used to say that a big part of our job was to be “creative on demand.” You really can’t wait for inspiration to strike when your paycheck depends on it.

One of the things that I learned early on is that creativity is really just a matter of connecting dots — finding an as-yet-unnoticed link between two or more seemingly unrelated things (the dots). It stands to reason, then, that the more dots you have available — in your head, on your desk, among your acquaintances — the more of these links you’ll find. And because these links are at the very core of creativity, intentionally accumulating a large and diverse “dot collection” is the first step in practicing intentional creativity.

#Creativity is just connecting dots. Click To Tweet

So how do you do that? Here are three easy ways to get started.

1. Subscribe to a different magazine. Find a magazine that you don’t normally read, and then subscribe to it. Make it one that will give you different points of view. You don’t have to go crazy here — I’m not suggesting that if you’re an anti-gun, pro-animal-rights vegan that you should subscribe to Deer & Deer Hunting. What I would suggest instead — for everyone — is a well-written general-interest magazine. Something like The Atlantic, Harpers, or The New Yorker. Just a quick skim through a magazine like these could easily provide you with a dozen or more dots. An added plus: magazine subscriptions are ridiculously inexpensive.

2. Hang out with one new person a month (or, if you’re really serious about this, a week). I’ve found that one of the best sources of new dots is also the oldest: face-to-face conversation. The problem is that our face-to-face conversations tend to be with the same people, the “usual gang.” The reason they’re the “usual gang” is because they think like us, and we like hanging out with people who confirm and validate our existing opinions. There’s nothing wrong with this; however, it’s not exactly a ticket to the fast track of intentional creativity. You don’t have to abandon your friends, but try supplementing them with occasional — but intentional — conversations with someone who sees the world through a different lens than you.

3. Listen to the TED Radio Hour podcast. I love this podcast! Each week it tackles a 30,000-foot-view topic (recent topics include “Growing Up,” “Trust and Consequences,” and “What Makes Us…Us”) with excerpts from TED Talks, along with interviews with the speakers. The podcast looks at these macro-topics through a variety of lenses and points of view, which pretty much guarantees that you’ll have at least a few “Wow, I never knew that!” moments each week.

Creative thinking is crucial for leaders today. Don’t let it be a “happy accident.” Increase your chances for creative ideas by consciously adding more dots to your collection. Make it a leadership development mission.

Make it intentional.


About the Author:

29-time Emmy Award winner and Hall of Fame keynote speaker Bill Stainton, CSP is an expert on Innovation, Creativity, and Breakthrough Thinking. He helps leaders and their teams come up with innovative solutions — on demand — to their most challenging problems.
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