These Five Traits Will Make You A More Creative Thinker

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Quickly now—what do these things all have in common:

  • The iPhone
  • The Taj Mahal
  • Gluten-free bread
  • Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
  • The Golden Retriever

Give up?

They are all outcomes of creative thinking.

[You: “Wait a minute. The Golden Retriever is a dog, not the result of a creative idea!” Me: “Not so fast there, Sporty. The Golden Retriever was the result of a creative thinker saying, ‘If I breed a yellow Labrador Retriever with a Tweed Water Spaniel, I might get an entirely new dog that can retrieve game on land and in the water!’”]

So creative thinking can result in wonderful things…and gluten-free bread.

How many of these 5 traits of #creative thinkers do you have? #creativity #innovation #creativethinking Click To Tweet

What, then, does it take to be a creative thinker? In my experience, creative thinkers share these five traits. Creative thinkers are:


This doesn’t mean that all creative thinkers are members of Mensa. And there are many types of intelligence. (Howard Gardner identifies nine, including spatial intelligence, musical intelligence, and naturalist intelligence.) But creative thinkers have a type of intelligence that can see problems and imagine solutions that don’t yet exist.


Creative thinkers ask questions. Questions like “Why?” and “What if?” They are not content to simply follow the recipe; they’ll experiment. Throw in a little paprika here, and little cumin there. Just to see what happens. Creative thinkers like to know how things work—and how they can work better.


Creative thinkers believe that there’s a better way to do virtually anything. They are constantly trying to improve processes, systems, products, and services. Creative thinkers believe that anything that exists today can exist in a better form tomorrow.

How can you improve your processes, systems, products, and services? #creativity #innovation #creativethinking Click To Tweet


Creative thinkers understand that great ideas can come from anywhere—and so they try to absorb ideas from everywhere. Creative thinkers tend to read broadly, travel broadly, experience broadly. They are open-minded about the world, and are intensely interested in seeing how other people—people different from them—think and feel and create.


Creative thinkers are willing to try new things, to risk, and to fail. The story of Thomas Edison and the light bulb comes to mind. He was willing to try (and fail) thousands of times to find a workable material for the filament. Creative thinkers don’t see “failure” the way most people do. What others see as failure, they simply see as a different result than the one they were looking for. It’s a learning opportunity. And it could be the jumping off point for a completely different idea.

You’ll notice that these five traits have a common theme: they all involve being open to the new and different—people, places, experiences, ideas. Creative thinkers aren’t content to live in a tunnel wearing blinders.

So if you’d like to be a more creative thinker, throw off your blinders. Step out of the tunnel. Read things you normally wouldn’t; listen to music (and podcasts) you normally wouldn’t; have conversations with people you normally wouldn’t. It’s a big world out there, and the great ideas are just waiting for you to find them!


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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