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The Next 3 Secrets to Boosting Your Creativity

By Inez Ng

Last month I gave you my first three secrets to how I boosted my own creativity. I hope you have been taking full advantage of the information. Now I will reveal three more secrets that will bring your creativity up another notch. Are you ready?

Unlearn your creativity blockers. Our parents and teachers taught us what they thought was good for us and what they thought we needed to succeed. And most of the time, they do a great job. However, we live in a society where conformity is valued, and so in preparing us to succeed here, they also imparted lessons that block our creative spirits. So, if you want to boost your creativity, it's time to unlearn some of these.

1. It's good to be practical and sensible

Starting from early childhood, most of us have been trained to be sensible and practical. Now it is time to unlearn some of these lessons, especially if you want to become freer in your creativity. When you are working on coming up with a creative new idea, or a creative solution to a problem, you must suspend whatever judgment you have been programmed to make regarding the practicality of the idea until much later. A corollary to this point is to also ignore judgments of others while you are in the process of creating.

Do you wonder if people questioned Edison's sanity when he started working on the light bulb? What do you think would have happened if Edison paid attention to what others were telling him? I am convinced that Edison himself at times doubted the practicality of his idea. But he didn't give in to that judgment, and because of that, we are not still sitting here reading by candlelight.

You don't have to boost your creativity to the level of Edison's. However, I would not be the least bit surprised if you've had some pretty darn good ideas in the past you dropped because you felt they were impractical. Start giving these ideas some time to incubate and see what happens.

2. Be serious and productive

In his book, Roger Von Oech wrote: "If necessity is the mother of invention, play is the father. Use it to fertilize your thinking." Obviously then, the advice is to allow yourself to play with ideas.

Did you think you were more creative when you were a kid? I certainly thought that of myself. Recall the wonderful games and stories you came up with while playing with friends when you allowed your imagination to run free? It wasn't hard to be creative then, was it?

I am not a computer game fan, but I have seen examples of some of them, and I believe the images in these games are definitely some of the most creative designs I have ever seen. There is just something about play that sparks our creativity. So, let yourself play with ideas and problems. Don't ignore the fact that some of the most inventive ideas came from playing around with something and adapting it to a new application. So, take my advice, and spend time playing. You can be serious later.

3. Follow the rules

I am not advocating that you abandon all protocol and act irresponsibly. However, our training to automatically follow rules all the time is detrimental to the creative process.

Have you ever considered that most rules are made up in the first place and that the situation and conditions might have changed so much that certain rules don't apply anymore? Question your assumptions and the rules you unconsciously apply to your situation and/or challenges and see what happens to your thinking.

What rules did Dell break? What about Google? If the leaders at these companies stuck with the old rules of business, would they be as successful today? So, don't worry about breaking a few rules when you are focusing on creating something new and exciting.

This installment is focusing on unlearning lessons that block our creativity. I have one more installment in this series where I will share my last three secrets. Stay tuned. In the meantime, be silly, play and break a few rules.

Copyright 2005 Inez Ng

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