What makes you creative?
by George Yu
My name is George Yu and I am a 4th-year Bachelor of Business Administration — Accounting student. The things that make me creative revolve around my hobbies and interests: sports, hiking, and cooking.
After you have thought about the sports you love to watch on Friday nights, your memorable hike with your friends, and the favorite meal you love to prepare for your special someone, did you know that creativity is not limited to our hobbies and interests? Creativity is also known to improve the workplace.
Creativity will improve your workplace
I have had previous work experiences in customer service for about a year, and in the kitchen for more than two years.
Based on personal experience, creativity make people happier and motivated because they are a part of an environment where new ideas are encouraged. It saves time, and it makes the workplace fun and engaging.
People have more fun at work when their ideas are welcomed. Have you ever proposed a new way of performing a certain task to your supervisor? Did your supervisor accept or reject your idea? How did it make you feel?
Creativity also saves time. It allows us to look at things from a different perspective, so we can accomplish tasks in the most efficient way possible.
It makes the workplace fun and engaging. When creativity is encouraged in the workplace, the workers are less stressed because they can have fun. And when the workplace is fun, it easier for employees to become more engaged.
Creativity is fun
Creativity should be fun. When we create and think of new ideas, we need to find ways to have fun so we can get rid of the same old boring routine that we have.
I was very excited to be back in school during my first year in college. I took a couple of years off to find work and save up so I can afford post-secondary education. When I returned to school I enjoyed working on every assignment and reading ahead of the class. Over time, I had realized that I am starting to develop a routine, and soon enough my motivation was gone. When we start to become comfortable we tend to lose our excitement and joy. So we need to avoid being repetitive as much as possible — not that routines are bad — but finding new ways of doing things brings back our drive and so we feel encouraged to move forward.
Routines can be good, but if we want to keep improving, we need to approach things differently so we can innovate and generate new ideas.
Innovations make valuable differences
Innovation is essential to the workplace because it is a process of turning something into another thing that creates and improves value. According to this principle, innovation helps improve working procedures, business ideas, goods or services offered, workers’ skills, and it increases job satisfaction.
Innovation improves working procedures. In my Advanced Managerial Accounting class, we covered lean production. Check out this video about a simulated paper airplane production and see how an improved working procedure can increase efficiency.
Coming up with business ideas may be challenging. But coming up with business ideas in 2021, may be close to impossible. We are in the informative age and because information can be easily accessible, it is very likely for people to have already gained a head-start on what you considered an “innovative business idea.” There is plenty of competition in all kinds of industry. But do not be discouraged, because innovation is not something that we can run-out of. Instead, it is a tool that we can use to generate ideas that has never been explored before. And with the combination of creativity and innovation, the possibilities are unimaginable.
It is crucial for a business to have a competitive advantage. Businesses set themselves apart from one another based on the goods or services they offer. Either based on how superior the product is or the quality of the service, innovation plays a huge role.
Innovation improves worker skills. A workplace that encourages innovation creates an environment that lets employees generate creative ideas. Employees can be themselves and have fun. And so, employee job satisfaction increases as well.
A workplace can be considered a community because this is where a group of people get together and work towards achieving a common goal. This can also be one of the best places to grow our creativity.
Communities best nurture creativity
“The role of a creative leader is to not have all the ideas. It is to create a culture where everybody have ideas.” — Sir Ken Robinson.
Communities like our workplace, school, or circle of friends should welcome and encourage creativity.
A workplace where our voices are heard make us feel valued. It gives us satisfaction when we can share our ideas with our co-workers or supervisors and the workplace becomes a safe environment where we are free to express our own creative abilities.
School is an environment where creativity should be nurtured. It is a place where people come to learn, seek their passion, and pursue their dreams in life. Without creativity our potential is limited, which makes it impossible for us to pursue our dreams.
Our group of friends gives us a sense of belonging. It is a community that we share the same values and interests with. Our circle of friends is one of the groups that we learn from the most, because we get to know them and develop strong relationships with them. It is a group of people where our ideas can be challenged and be supported. Overall, our circle of friends is a community that nurtures creativity, which helps us grow as a person.
Sharing our ideas with people is important because it creates opportunities for us. Most importantly, it helps turn our weaknesses into strengths.
Leverage strengths and opportunities
“Strength: A river cuts through a rock not because of its power but its persistence.” — Unknown
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear about SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis? I must admit that whenever I hear this term, I immediately think of business’ way of analyzing its competitors. After reading this principle, I have learned that SWOT analysis is not limited to business decision-making processes.
SWOT analysis can also be used to analyze our personal strengths and weaknesses to help us become more creative and successful. It is an effective tool to help us take advantage of the opportunities that is present and overcome any threats that may arrive.
A SWOT analysis enables us to turn our weaknesses into strengths. Also, it gives us great visuals on how we can apply opportunities to limit threats. Just like how we can apply our own strengths to our weaknesses, creativity is something that we can apply to our imagination because creativity fuels our imagination.
Imagination powers creativity
Our imagination is a great tool to fuel our creativity. We can be given things that may seem irrelevant or does not have any value. But if we use our imagination, we can turn it into something unique and valuable.
Things that I do to fuel my imagination: I listen to podcasts, I spend time on social media, and I read a book.
Listening to podcasts allows me to listen to other people’s perspective. A podcast is a great tool to use whenever I want to learn more about a certain topic. I have always thought that because it is unfiltered, it’s unlikely to be biased. I like listening to podcasts because it helps me understand the topic objectively by looking at facts and evidence from both sides.
Be careful with this one! As most of you already know, it is very easy to lose track of time when you are on social media. But, it does have some benefits as long as you are aware with the amount of time you spend on it (You can set a daily reminder and the app will notify you when you have reached your daily time limit). People have shown amazing creativity on social media (Particularly, on Instagram). I think aside from the daily memes that I receive from my friends, Instagram has some informative and creative contents as well. It can be about photography, fashion, music, sports, and more. It is wonderful and encouraging to see how many people are out there who share their creativity to the world.
I have always liked to challenge my mind and reading is the primary way that I use. I think when I challenge my way of thinking, it stimulates my imagination, which then fuels my creativity.
What fuels your imagination?
We know you have an awesome personality and have various ways of being imaginative. But before you come up with a huge list of ideas and things that fuels your imagination, be sure to capture and manage these ideas because these ideas are valuable and must be saved.
Capture and manage all ideas
Ideas come to us all the time but not all of them may be considered valuable or relevant. According to this principle, “Ideas come to us when we least expect them. It may be during a shower, or first thing in the morning when we wake up.”
Even though it may seem that random ideas do not serve us value, all ideas are valuable — we just need to find the right time to use them. But how do we remember all the ideas that come to our minds and use them when we need them the most?
We start saving our ideas by writing them down or by using apps like Google Keep. If we write down our ideas we can easily remember them or retrieve them and apply them to situations that will generate the best results.
“Write down the thoughts of the moment. Those that come unsought are commonly the most valuable.” — Frances Bacon
A good example of writing down ideas and putting them to good use is listing things you want to learn after you graduate from college or places you want to visit in the future. This way, you have these ideas saved and you have the ability to retrieve them when the right time comes. It is a great way to capture and preserve ideas which is one of the four core competencies of creativity, by Robert Epstein.
Develop your creative competencies
According to Dr. Robert Epstein, there are four core competencies of creativity: Capturing, Challenging, Broadening, and Changing your surroundings. When all four are practiced, they are meant to help use become better creators and innovators.
Capture new ideas so they can be retrieved when they are useful. I have always thought that some ideas are worthless and should be ignored. I have always considered them as a form of distraction. One day, I was in the shower and a random thought came to mind. I thought of learning how to ice skate. Normally, I would ignore these types of ideas, but this time I made a mental note about it. A week later, holiday break comes around and I have got nothing to do because of the COVID-19 restrictions. I told myself that there was no way I am going to be stuck in the house doing nothing throughout the Christmas break. Then I remembered ice skating, so I watched a couple of YouTube tutorials and bought a pair of skates. Then roughly 3 days later, I officially learned how to skate.
Despite of the scratches and bruises, it was all worth it. It felt rewarding because I challenged myself.
Challenges are valuable opportunities
We have got to challenge ourselves to embrace difficult tasks. I have always enjoyed challenging myself because it is how I learn the most. I remember my accounting professor used to tell us that we have got to stop being scared of the tests and the quizzes. Instead, look at them as learning opportunities. He would say to us that we are more inclined to remember the questions we answered incorrectly because that is what learning is all about — we learn from our mistakes.
According to this principle, people who embrace challenges are often:
- The ones who enjoys the reward of accomplishing something that they have never done before
- Happy to take on difficult assignments
- The ones who set open-ended goals to avoid limiting their potential
- Willing to manage their fears and often takes more risks
Along with challenging ourselves, we need to broaden ourselves and expand on our knowledge, skills, and expertise.
How does one broaden him/herself? The best way to broaden ourselves is through learning. When we learn about new things, experiences, and skills, we expand our minds. When we have a broader knowledge and skillset we are likely more creative. And an improved creativity results to increased levels of innovation.
As I have mentioned before, sports, hiking, and cooking are three of the main hobbies that I enjoy the most. They also encourage me to be as creative as I can. But instead of primarily playing basketball, what if I try other sports like volleyball or tennis? What if I learned how to become a rock climber? And aside from cooking and following recipes, what if I create my own recipe? These are some of the things that we need to ask ourselves to have the chance of broadening our knowledge. Sometimes we need to go outside of our comfort zones to explore new things.
However, is it possible to explore new things if we were stuck in the same messy environment? The same morning routine? Or the repetitive tasks that we do at work?
A change of surrounding is very important — especially in a world full of COVID-19 restrictions. Change in scenery is crucial to our mental health and overall well-being.
One of the activities from the Class Tasks Assignments asked students to change the theme on our Gmail accounts. I probably spend about 70% of my day checking my Gmail to see if there are any updates at school or work. I realized that even the smallest thing of changing my Gmail theme can be very helpful. It gave me a sense of recharged environment — something new to look at.
Most of us understand the difficulties of online classes. The classroom environment and socializing with classmates are some of the highlights of our college lives. I must admit that I miss running down the hallways because I am about to be late for my next class or bumping into someone because of how crowded it is during lunch time. Since we do not have opportunities like this during these COVID times, it is difficult to change environments.
One of my classmates shared that it has had an impact on her mental health. But she figured out a way on how to deal with this situation. She spends her first class in her bedroom, her next class in the living room, and her final class for the day in the dining room. So when she started to move around the house and changed her surroundings, she had realized that it was working for her and the strain on her mental health was treated.
Changing environment in a COVID world is just as challenging as looking for a good source entertainment. No matter what happens, we need to find good entertainment because it plays a huge role in our creative thinking.
Good entertainment powers imagination
Some good entertainment I consider are: Listening to music, watching series, reading a book, and home workouts.
Whatever I am doing, I have to listen to music. Whether I am cleaning the house, cooking, or working on my assignments. Listening to music has been a part of my daily routine and it powers my imagination. My mind gets stimulated by the listening to the lyrics of the song. As soon as I hear the words, I start picturing things. I listen to all kinds of music. Lately, I have been listening to old boy bands like Westlife, Backstreet Boys, and NSYNC. My mind starts to go back to my childhood whenever I listen to these classics. It brings back good memories of simpler times.
Lately, I have been obsessed with the Netflix series, “Suits.” It is about corporate lawyers who go head-to-head with other law firms, and sometimes even the people from their own firm. The show uses a lot of law terminologies that I am not familiar with (jargon). So, there are times when I have to look up the word on Google. This helps me become more creative because as I mentioned before, writing is one of the ways I express my creativity. And the
terminologies I learn from the show expands my vocabulary — and that is if the paper I am writing about has something to do with mergers, contract breaches, or senior partners — which I do all the time.
Just like listening to music, reading gets my imaginative mind to work. Whenever I read a book, I visualize the message so I can understand it better. I usually get bored easily by staring at words so I learn better with illustrations.
My brother and I have a mini-gym setup in the basement, so whenever we have free time we do our workouts. It is not the same as working out at an actual gym, but it is better than no workouts at all.
We need to get our workouts done even when we are at home because our health should be top priority. Just like the old saying, “health is wealth.” But health is not just limited to improving our lives, it can also improve our creativity.
Good health powers creativity
Exercising has plenty of benefits in our physical and mental well-being. Aside from that, it also improves our capability to think creatively.
When we give ourselves time to rest and relax, it gives us the opportunity to recharge. We then become more energized and productive. We can do so by getting at least 7–8 hours of sleep every night. A complete sleep can set the tone to our whole day or even for the whole week. It has been proven to benefit our lives
Eating healthy food is another beneficial way of improving our health. Preparing our own meals with fresh ingredients is way healthier compared to any fast-food restaurants. It taste way better, plus we get to practice our cooking skills.
We have got to stay active. There are plenty of ways to do so despite of being at home. There are home workouts we can do such as: Push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, etc. These exercises improve our strength, endurance, and agility.
Continue to find hobbies and interests that help you stay active. Going for a walk, jogging, or even ice skating — just be sure to get a buddy with you so we can catch you fall on tape.
These are some of the healthy ways of improving both our well-being and our creativity. What about some unhealthy ways? Do these things exist? Well, yes. Assumption, for instance, is one of the things that could hinder our creativity.
Assumptions block creativity
I made three assumptions during the first week of the semester: There is a ‘right way’ of doing the assignments, I need to find the best answer, and making a mistake is not an option.
I always try to think of the best way possible to fill-out our assignments causing me to consume so much time with formatting. Not realizing that the content of our assignment should be my priority.
I have had the assumption that I need to find the best answer for every question. This sort of mentality only caused me to overthink things, which is very time consuming and unproductive.
I consider myself to be risk-averse. So I have always had a very limited creative ability. I constantly worry about taking a risk and making mistakes. In Then I realized that risk-taking is all part of improvement.
It is difficult to be creative when we assume things. But it is even more difficult when we do not recognize our assumptions. We need to recognize and challenge our assumptions to open our minds to new ways of doing things, coming up with alternative solutions, and breaking the barrier so we can recognize new opportunities to be creative.
Constraints enhance creativity
Having limited time pushes me to get things done. I have always seen myself as someone who performs well under pressure. So time limits often help me generate creative ways and solutions with solving problems.
Financial constraints serves as my motivator to complete my program and achieve my career goals. This helps me come up with creative ways on how to get my foot in the door whether it involves connecting with people, looking for possible opportunities, or getting better grades in school.
The limitations of online schooling has major impacts on group work. So this encourages us students to find creative ways to work together in the most efficient way despite the inabilities of in-person group meetings.
Normally, constraints are considered to be as a negative. What if I told you that it comes with benefits? When we increase our constraints (time or money), our resources become limited, with limited resources our minds are forced to figure out a creative way on how to handle the situation. So, constraints can actually be a source of motivation and push us to think outside the box.
Mind mapping enhances creativity
The three strategies I plan to employ to improve my creative competencies: think of challenges as learning opportunities, don’t be afraid to fail and take some risks, and recognize and challenge my assumptions. Below is a mind map that illustrates how my assumptions, constraints, risks, and fears relate to my strategies.
Challenges require risk taking
I must admit that there are times that I shy away from risks. This is mostly because I fear that I might fail. Then I learned that taking risks means wanting to succeed. Taking risks means improving ones creativity. Success and improvement of our creative abilities is not going to be achievable without any risks involved just like any other things. We need to realize that risks are a part of getting better.
When we face challenges we either turn our backs or take a risk and embrace those challenges. If we decide to not give up and take on the challenge we risk something. But the best part of it is that we open doors of opportunities.
Opportunities to experience new things, to pride ourselves for not backing down, and most importantly to learn from our own mistakes.
Learn more from failures
“I did not fail, I just found 10,000 ways that did not work.” — Thomas Edison
Failure is not something to be afraid of. It is common to everyone, even to famous people. It is a tool used as an opportunity to learn, grow, and improve. The important thing is to not let failure be a cause of any forms of discouragement. Instead, use it as a motivation to keep moving forward, a reason to not give up, and achieve success.