What should you do when you experience a creative block? Or when you’re facing a problem at work or in your business and you can’t find an innovative solution? These four creative, yet proven creative techniques might help you find better ideas and encourage clear thinking.
1. Cultivate Your Side-Interests
Michael Gelb is a creativity expert and the author of best-selling books like How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci.
Throughout his works, Gelb draws upon his passions like aikido, Tai-Chi, juggling and even fine wine to illustrate points for his readers and students. The title of one of his more recent books is Wine Drinking for Inspired Thinking: Uncork Your Creative Juices.
In another book, The Art of Connection, he writes extensively about how his practice of aikido and Tai Chi taught him to sit still, quieten his mind and find creative solutions to business problems.
“Aikido is based on the idea that we are all connected through a fundamental universal harmony and that the task of the martial artist is to view any attack as an opportunity to restore the natural state of peace,” he writes in the latter book.
Many creative professionals draw on their side-interests in their works. When I asked Gelb, why it’s some important.
“I’ve practiced these disciplines over the years, it’s gradually become easier for me to sit still,” he says. “I like the idea of beginner’s mind. I like the idea of the feeling of vast horizons of learning before me.”
2. Write About Big Challenges
Gelb is known for hosting conferences and speaking publicly. He also follows a regular writing practice because it helps him refine ideas in a way that public speaking or quiet reflection can’t.
“If you’re a good speaker…if you’re charming, if you have a good sense of humor, you can get away with saying a lot of things that don’t really make sense and win people over,” he says.
“It’s much harder to do with writing because…and we can go back and read it again and we can say, ‘That doesn’t actually make sense.'”
An entrepreneur can practice writing in a private journal, use a notepad or even dictate thoughts into a mobile app. Ultimately, this practice is more important than any tool.
3. Trigger a Creative State
An entrepreneur who doesn’t write regularly might complain about feeling blocked and having nothing to say.
Enter Pascal Gambardella. He holds a PhD, is an author, life coach, and Neuro-Semantics trainer. Specialising in mental modeling and creative thinking, Gambardella teaches people how to develop high-performance resource states that allow them to enter “the creative zone”.
An entrepreneur can trigger these states using an anchor. For example, you could put on a pair of noise-cancelling headphones or pick up a particular pen before starting.
“Once you create these states, to access them [creative states]… you might see a word or a picture. Sometimes, it’s a couple of deep breaths.. or some specific anchor that you can create for yourself. Then, you practice going into and out of the states after an interruption,” he says.
“Another strategy I use when writing is to get up, walk around, or do something else. But I’ll still be thinking about [the problem] in the back of my mind. And then I’ll come back to it and get back into that state.”
4. Create a Mindmap
Mindmapping is an ideal creative technique for entrepreneurs who are uncomfortable writing or short on time.
Simply, note a central idea in the middle of the page and brainstorm related ideas via connecting branches. You can mindmap an idea quickly and easily using paper and different coloured pens or markers.
Gelb usually creates his mindmaps on a whiteboard or with pen and paper. He uses this creative technique to plan everything from marketing campaigns for his latest books to his tasks for the week or month.
“I’d like to tell you that I have an exact plan for every day, but it doesn’t work that way. I make a mind map every day…and I have a mind map of the year’s goals and the life goals, but I also allow room for spontaneity and flow in the course of the day,” he says.
You don’t have to be Leonardo da Vinci to find creative solutions for work problems. Simply practice using creative techniques you feel comfortable with until an idea presents itself.
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