When are you at your creative best? For some it comes when you’re under stress. For others, when you’re calm and relaxed. Does inspiration come to you out of the blue or while you’re actively thinking? What are your personal creative thinking techniques?
Ask Ben Franklin
When I have a challenging problem and no ready solution, I’ve learned a technique that gives me an answer. It goes like this—before drifting off to sleep, imagine presenting your problem to someone you trust and admire. When you awake in the morning, you have the answer. It’s amazing how well this technique works for me. The person I ask is Ben Franklin. I imagine walking down steps from the street to his basement workshop where he’s working on a project. He looks up at me, and I explain what I need. Then I go to sleep. Just like a newspaper, Ben delivers in the morning.
How do you access your creative ideas? Do they come consciously or subconsciously? While Ben helps me access my subconscious, intuitive creativity, mainly my inspiration comes while I’m conscious. I’m very prone to daydreaming, especially when I’m trying to read! Ever had to reread a page multiple times because you get to the bottom and realize you don’t remember a thing? Some of my best ideas come as I daydream while “reading.” Daydreaming is one of my favorite creative thinking techniques.
Head, Heart or Gut?
The Enneagram model describes three centers—head (thinking), heart (feelings) and gut (intuition). Creativity and inspiration can come from any of these three. My daydream inspiration definitely comes from my head. I suspect that Ben is delivering intuitive inspiration from my gut. But what about feelings from the heart? How can I access creativity through feelings?
Chillin’ with the Remote
The most common way I engage with my feelings is by listening to music and watching TV. There’s something in the way it moves me that invokes feelings. For me, this is much more about relaxation and recreation than inspiration. However, for musicians and filmmakers, those feelings may be fertile ground for inspiration. The creative process is different for different people. As is the ability to be creative under pressure.
Performing Under Pressure
How are you at thinking on your feet? Those that have ready access to their intuitive inspiration (without having to go to sleep) tend to have easier access to creative ideas while under pressure. I believe this is also true for those that are accessing inspiration from their feelings. For those of us in our heads, it can be another story. Personally, when the pressure’s on, my anxiety levels rise and mask my ability to think on the spot. I am much more creative when I am relaxed.
Diversity of Creative Skills
Problem solving and creative thinking in the workplace go hand in hand. Creative problem solving involves ideation and inspiration. Given that each of us has a distinct source of inspiration—head, heart, or gut—with easier or harder access based on stress levels, having a diverse team with different creative techniques ensures your team has a creative source under any circumstance. The Enneagram serves as a framework for each of these creative problem solving approaches. I explain this framework in detail in chapter 6 of Teamwork 9.0. Each of the nine Enneagram types provides a distinct creative skill. A team with diverse Enneagram types can deliver diverse approaches to creative problem solving.
What creative problem-solving techniques do you use? From where do you source your inspiration? Under what circumstances are you most creative? Do you think better under pressure or when relaxed? Knowing your creative style guides you to being your creative best!