Time to dream up creativity
By Chris Posti
Published: Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012, 8:56 p.m.
When I am trying to come up with a fresh idea or need to solve a dilemma, you know what I do? I stay in bed! Not all day, mind you, but I linger a while before getting up and hopping into the shower.
That's because I do my best thinking when I am in that dreamy half-awake, half-asleep state. I've gotten ideas for books, new perspectives on how to handle challenging clients, and occasionally I remember something important that I had overlooked.
A friend of mine says he does his best ruminating when he's in the shower. In fact, he often takes showers that are more than 30 minutes long. He is a vice president of marketing for a major corporation, so I suppose he can afford those water bills.
Tracy Fuller, a Pittsburgh-based executive coach whose practice, COMPIO, includes a focus on innovation leadership, says, “If you want to think more creatively, you have to act differently.
“You have control over that. Stock the pond. Expose yourself to new and different kinds of experiences. The best experiences are multi-sensory, so get out of your office, get out of your town. Or, at least use social media. The wider your range of experiences, the better. Get exposed to different thinking, talk to people you don't usually talk to,” Fuller says.
An obvious way to talk to people you don't usually talk to is to attend an assortment of events where you are sure to meet a variety of people. Take a fresh approach to networking, and you will find it not only less arduous, but enlightening.
About networking, Fuller says, “From an innovation standpoint, you are not looking to network to increase your business profile. You are networking to lend and receive new ideas and points of view. Get very curious about what people do and what helps them on their job. “This is a nice approach for network-weary people. It takes the pressure off introverts.”
While you are networking, or for that matter, anytime you are in conversation, pay attention to questions. Questions guide the direction of our thinking, so by asking a different kind of question you can open a different door to a subject. That will facilitate creative thinking.
Fuller cites an example of an executive at a financial services company who was used to being the smartest guy in the room. This arrogance also made him the most avoided person in the room. Fuller coached him to change his approach from “How can I win with my smarts?” to “How can I win with others' smarts?” This led to developing better relationships and more creative outcomes.
Other ways to enable creativity include keeping a tablet and pen on your nightstand. Turn off the radio when driving; allow your mind to ponder the problems of the day.
I find I'm also creative at the end of the day, when approaching that hallowed half-awake, half-asleep state once again. If I get into bed at that time, however, instead of being creative, I fall asleep. So rather than lose the opportunity, I go upstairs to my loft, open the little door to my rooftop, and sit out on the roof for a while. There's something about those starry nights that opens my mind to new possibilities.
But I wouldn't recommend the roof idea in winter.
Chris Posti, president of Posti & Associates in Pittsburgh, is author of “The Shortest Distance between You and Your New Job,” available on Amazon.com. Email your questions to her at email@example.com.
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