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Creativity for Success

Creativity and innovation are important keys to success in today's rapidly changing world. Process improvement, problem solving, recruiting, retaining and motivating employees, decision making, dealing with limited resources, satisfying customers, and rapidly changing technology are all examples of business realities that require creative solutions. Yet, innovative thinkers are often tough to find today.

Somewhere along the line, many adults have forgotten how to use their imagination to think and solve problems out of the box. Roger von Oech, in his book A Whack on the Side of the Head, recounts a teacher's exercise in examining creativity. The teacher drew a dot on the chalkboard and asked a class of sophomores to identify it. They responded with the obvious: a chalk dot. She noted that the day before she had asked a group of kindergartners, and they had come up with numerous examples of what it might be: the top of a telephone pole, a squashed bug, an owl's eye, a cigar butt, a rotten egg, and so on. Somewhere between childhood and adulthood many of us lose the ability to be creative and search for more than one right answer.

So how can we as adults regain and maintain our spirit of fun and creativity? Here are a few tips:

Be curious.
Practice developing your curiosity by asking questions to get a better understanding, or to see things from a different perspective. Some questions you might ask:
1. What are you taking for granted?
2. What are you assuming is impossible?
3. What if...
4. Why do we...

Celebrate your failures.
There are many inventions we view as essentials today that exist only because someone recognized their failure as an opportunity. Examine what can be learned from each "failure." It may be an opportunity to create a new product, improve a process, or solve a problem. Look for ways to make this type of evaluation part of your normal practices so the entire workforce is encouraged to think more creatively!

Nurture your inner child.
Look for ways to become a kid again. Watch children at play and remember what things brought you joy as a kid. Consider what brings you joy today and take time out to explore your playful side. For example, fly a kite, build a model train, gaze at the clouds to identify the shapes you see, go for a walk in the woods and look at the plant and animal life, or simply daydream. Taking time away from the pressures of a tense situation can help free your mind so you're ready to see things more clearly and creatively.

These are just a few of the ways you can learn to be more creative to achieve the success you deserve. Remember, it's never too late to start. Good luck and have fun!

About the Author
Kathleen J. Wheelihan is a professional speaker for AchieveMax, Inc., a firm specializing in custom-designed keynote presentations, seminars, and consulting services. Kathleen has made presentations ranging from creativity to customer service and leadership to teambuilding.

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