“Creativity is the last unfair advantage we’re legally allowed to take over our competitors.”
~ Bill Bernbach, Founder of the first truly creative ad agency: Doyle Dane Bernbach
- Are you willing to break rules when necessary?
Creative ideas come from breaking rules. And I don’t mean parking in a no-parking zone, but preconceived notions about how things are observed and executed. Sometimes, though, great ideas do literally break the rules.
Uber and Airbnb, for example, both initially pushed some boundaries about what was permissible in their respective industries (unsanctioned taxi driving and home rentals).
- Do you ask a lot of questions?
Questions are an important part of creativity. They can reveal opportunities as well as problems that need solving and the best ways to solve them.
Who should you ask questions of? Start with yourself, of course. Then customers and prospects (and those they interact with). And anyone who might give you insights, new ways of looking at the problem and even great creative ideas.
- Do you seek out new experiences?
Imagine if you lived in a small apartment and never went outside, never traveled, never visited anyone or had anyone over to visit. How good do you think the quality of your ideas would be?
Conversely, the more different people, places and things you expose yourself to, the more raw material you will have to inspire your thinking and creativity, and build your ideas out of.
Highly creative people have few things in common, but they are virtually always curious — about themselves, others and the world around them.
- Do you have a good sense of humor?
To see the funny side of things, you have to look at people and things a little differently. That is, after all, the essence of creativity! Also, just being funny, joking around and laughing is a great way to get your creative brain in gear!
- Do you like to daydream?
Daydreaming—staring into space, thinking about nothing in particular—is a great way to put the power of your subconscious to work on coming up with ideas.
And as you’ve probably heard, your subconscious powers the majority of your brain (around 83%).
- Are you willing to fail?
It’s an illusion that creative people come up with better ideas. Actually, they simply come up with MORE ideas than the average person—so they are likely to have more great ideas than the average person.
Did you ever notice how people who came up with great ideas or inventions in the past tirelessly kept at it, failure after failure, until they had a breakthrough? Like Edison trying thousands of different ways to create a workable lightbulb? (How many great ideas have been lost to the world for lack of just a few more tries!?)
- Are you a people-watcher?
Observing people is important to creativity in two ways. First, because most ideas are in some way or other used for people—to communicate with them, improve their lives, etc.
And second, because observing how people do things can give you ideas for how to modify and improve what they’re doing, as well as ideas for your own approaches to problems and opportunities.
- Do you seek out others to collaborate with?
“Two heads are better than one,” is doubly true when it comes to creativity and idea-generation. First, you get twice the brainpower and twice the idea-generating capacity.
But also because when you brainstorm and bounce ideas off others, their different points of view and life experiences add to the range, diversity and complexity of your ideas.
- Do people say “you’re a bit different”?
You won’t come up with new ideas if you think like everyone else. As the Apple ad campaign from a few years back said, the most creative people of all time “Think Different.”
And as Einstein has said: “We can’t solve problems with the same kind of thinking that created them.”
- Do you have a systematic way of coming up with ideas?
In a way, this is the most important point of all—because if you have a way to systematically generate ideas, you don’t have to be a natural-born creative genius to quickly and easily solve problems.
For example, my creative training, Idea Power, is a system based on asking yourself a series of powerful questions.
Just check out what Joe Vitale, marketing guru and one of the stars of the movie The Secret had to say about it:
“I love this! These are the kinds of mind-expanding techniques that enabled me to generate millions of dollars for my clients and myself—finally expressed in a systematic, easy-to-understand, easy-to-use way. My head’s alive with money-making ideas.”
Good news: A new and improved version of this training is on the way.
But don’t worry, we will notify you once the new training is ready. In the meantime, watch your inbox for more great tips on creativity and idea generation.