Unleash Your Creative Spirit: How to Nurture Your Imaginative Side
By Lorie Rosenberg
Many people believe they lack creativity...because they're not artistic and cannot draw or paint. Yet people display creativity in many different ways through music, mathematics, mechanics, statistics, and other types of gifts and talents.
It's important to understand that creativity is something we all possess. If you have a right side to your brain, then you are creative. The key is to nurture and develop your creativity to help you dream bigger, conceive new ideas and innovations, and turn your dreams into reality.
So What is Creativity?
According to its definition, creativity is…
Using Imagination, Innovative Ideas, or Resourcefulness
to Find Solutions or Create Something New or Unique.
Other words that describe creativity are inventiveness, imagination, innovation, originality, individuality, artistry, inspiration, vision, and initiative.
Creativity, therefore, is using your thoughts and ideas to re-imagine the world: to conceive an innovative approach to a problem, to develop a new tool, product, or technology that solves a particular need, or to recreate the environment in a whole new way.
The Ultimate Scoop on Creativity
No better example of creativity is to look at two people who re-imagined the ice cream industry and took it to a whole new level. And that’s Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream.
In 1978, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield decided to open an ice cream store in a renovated gas station in Burlington, Vermont. Ben had recently dropped out of college and Jerry had failed to enter medical school. So on a lark, they decided to take a $5 correspondence course in ice cream-making from Penn State. With that and a $12,000 investment ($4,000 of it borrowed), they opened their ice cream business.
Ben and Jerry used their imagination and innovative spirit to develop the Ben & Jerry’s brand, from the product itself to the packaging and marketing of the product.
What’s amazing is that Ben has anosmia, which is the inability to smell odors. Instead of smell, he used “mouth feel” to develop the various flavors and this is why their ice cream is well known for its signature chunks that were a part of the various flavors.
Ben & Jerry introduced Cherry Garcia® ice cream, named for Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia at the suggestion of two "DeadHeads" from Portland, Maine. They introduced Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough after years of research and development. This flavor rocketed to the top of the most-popular-in-pints list. Today it still reigns among their all-time flavor hits. The great music and renowned concert tours of the Vermont-based musical group, Phish®, inspired Phish Food® ice cream.
Ben and Jerry embody creativity in everything they do in their business. This can be seen in the variety of flavors, the unique and memorable names of their various flavors, the packaging and marketing of their ice cream, and their dedication to serving various social and environmental causes.
Creativity - An Important Tool
Creativity is one of the most important power tools at your disposal. Creativity allows you to think beyond the box, and to have fun as you create new and innovative ideas and solutions. By tapping into your creativity, you can move in directions you never thought possible.
Creativity Knows No Bounds
You may think…well I don’t have the creativity and imagination of people like Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield. Yet, as I stated before, everyone possesses creative energy and therefore has the capacity to bring some level of innovativeness to their particular profession.
Take a look at the following professions and discover how these individuals bring creativity to their work to more effectively accomplish their goals and objectives.
Teacher or Professor
Individuals learn in different ways. Some are auditory, some visual, and some kinesthetic. Teachers use creativity to develop innovative strategies to access the different ways people learn. They take the specific information they want to convey and present it in a way that a student can understand and assimilate more effectively.
One might not think that auto mechanics use creativity, but they need to solve issues that may not always be apparent. They use their thoughts, experience, and imagination to develop innovative ways to make repairs that solve the particular issue at hand. They use their creativity to rebuild an engine, install a muffler, or repair an electrical problem. Not everyone has mechanical skills, but those who do are able to use their knowledge to innovate this industry.
A musician transforms notes on a page into beautiful music. Not everyone has an aptitude for music, but those who do use their innovation and imagination to compose music, play an instrument, or arrange the individual components to a musical composition. They turn an ordinary tune into a lyrical musical arrangement or symphony.
How to Develop Your Creativity
When children are young, they use their creativity to imagine their world. They’re not concerned with what people will think when they put their ideas on paper. They imagine everything through their play without worrying about outcomes. This occurs when they play with paints, play-dough, crayons or costumes. It happens when they explore nature and pretend to be some type of animal or imagine themselves as an astronaut or fireman. This is how children develop creativity through their play as they view the world around them and imagine life as they see it in their eyes.
As children grow older, they become more aware of the people around them who tell them their ideas are not possible, that they need to think a particular way, and that they need to color within the lines. They begin to question their ideas and conform to the norms of society.
And that’s where many of us are at now. We’ve been told our ideas are not good enough or that we can’t do something we've wanted to try...and we begin to believe that we need to be like everyone else. We stop valuing our ideas, and start to color within the lines because we're afraid to break out of the mold and be unique and different.
Freedom to Express Without Fear
The first step to developing your creativity is to allow yourself the freedom to think outside of the conventional norms. Don't suppress your ideas because they need to conform to the standard thoughts and practices of those around you. Stop worrying about what other people will think but rather use your imagination to create new ideas and ways of doing things. These innovative ideas may not always work out because there may be some legitimate restrictions with what you can and cannot do, but many times you'll find that the final outcome will be an iteration of your original thoughts or ideas.
Relaxation of the Mind
Creativity can’t always be accessed on command. Many times you need to be in the right environment or in the right state of mind. And that can be different for every individual. Some of you may find that your greatest ideas are spawned in a relaxing shower, when you’re about ready to fall asleep, or when you’re out in nature or on a walk. What’s important is to recognize the times you’re at your best creatively and be able to replicate them when the need arises.
Creative Tools and Strategies
You’ve heard of the blank page or writer’s block. As I said previously, creative ideas don’t always appear on demand. Sometimes you need to use some techniques to start your creative juices flowing.
Capture Ideas: Many times during the day I’ll read something profound or hear something said that was cute or interesting. It might evoke a connection to something else in my life and I learn something new about myself and others. I may think in that moment that this idea is something I’d like to write about in an article. I quickly stop and make a note of it on a pad, in my phone, or on my computer, so I don’t forget it. And that’s the way it is with ideas…they’re here one second and gone the next. So make sure you find some way to notate your ideas so you'll remember them when it's important.
Use Prompts or Ques: It may be the week I write our email newsletter article and I have no idea what I want to write about. I start doing a little surfing on the internet, browsing Facebook, or viewing other articles written by people I admire. I’ll find that some idea triggers another idea and before you know it I've decided what I want to write about. (Deadlines are fabulous motivators.)
And that’s how it is with ideas. To think creatively, you need to let your mind relax and do what it’s programmed to do…solve problems and create breakthroughs.
Think Tank: Another way to generate creative solutions is through a think-tank approach. Get together a group of individuals from different backgrounds and varying personalities and have them collectively collaborate on a particular issue. Keep in mind that everyone’s idea is given equal consideration without fear of being laughed at or ridiculed. Everyone must keep an open mind so that individuals are free to share their ideas without fear of criticism. And make sure that someone is writing down all of the ideas so that they can be evaluated at another time. This is a great way to see different viewpoints and collaborate on a important issue.
Unleash Your Creative Spirit
Creativity is an important attribute that can enhance your life. It helps you move in new directions you hadn’t considered before. It enables you to perform at higher levels because you’re free to use your inherent imagination and knowledge to recreate some part of your life. Just as Ben & Jerry imagined a whole new ice cream industry, you'll be able to dream bigger, conceive new ideas and innovations, and turn your dreams into reality.