Creativity works in mysterious and often paradoxical ways. Creative thinking is a stable, defining characteristic in some personalities, but it may also change based on situation and context. Inspiration and ideas often arise seemingly out of nowhere…
"I was a trader for most of my life. At one point I was the Vice Chairman of the New York Mercantile Exchange. But instead of retiring, I decided to go back to school and get a degree in social work. Because I figured God wasn’t going to care much about my golf handicap. But being an older student sort of turns your whole world upside down. Last month, I worked on a project with a kid that I used to coach in basketball."
What the Circus Can Teach Us About Creativity: 7 Strategies from Cirque du Soleil
1. Great Expectations Recognize your own creativity and practice it daily.
2. Surrender to Your Senses Use your five senses to experience the world and develop intuition.
3. Treasure Hunting and Creative Transformation Be an open-minded thinker with a tough-minded approach to business.
4. Nurturing Environment Create a set of rules that allows people to have fun at work.
5. Constraints, Challenges, Differences, and Consumer Expectations Constraints force creative people to become more resourceful and more creative, says Heward. Workers are required to produce solutions within the constraints of budgets, technical issues, and physical limitations.
6. Risk Taking: Do You Ever Get Burned? Creativity is about courage. Heward says that the biggest risk an organization can take is to adopt complacency and not take risks, which can turn out to be the least productive strategy.
7. Keep it Fresh Seek constant feedback to ensure product durability and longevity. Cirque du Soleil’s leaders sit in the audience every night watching and listening for clues about each performance.
Tiffany Schlain’s 10 Stages of the Creative Process
1. The Hunch Any project starts with a hunch, and you have to act on it. It’s a total risk because you’re just about to jump off a cliff, and you have to go for it if you believe in it.
2. Talk About It Tell your family, tell your friends, tell your community … they’re the ones who are going to support you on this whole treacherous journey of the creative process, so involve them, engage them.
3. The Sponge I’m going to tons of art shows, I’m watching a lot of movies, I’m reading voraciously… and I’m just sponging up ideas and trying to formulate my own idea about the subject.
4. Build I love the world “filmmaker” because it has “maker” in it. My team and I are … building an armature — the architecture for the project.
5. Confusion Dread. Heart of Darkness. Forest of fire, doubt, fear… [But] as hard as it is — and it is really hard — any project … gets infinitely better after I’ve rumbled with all of my fears.
6. Just Step Away Take a breather — literally just step away from the project… Let it marinate — don’t look at it or think about it.
7. “The Love Sandwich” To give constructive feedback, always snuggle it in love — because we’re only human, and we’re vulnerable… Set expectations for where you are in the project, then ask questions in a way that allows for “the love sandwich”: First, “What works for you?” Then, “What doesn’t work for you?” Then, “What works for you?” again. If you just ask people for feedback, they’ll go straight for the jugular.
8. The Premature Breakthroughlation You’ll find in a project that you’ll have many small breakthroughs — and you have to celebrate those breakthroughs, because they’re ultimately going to lead to the Big Breakthrough.
9. Revisit Your Notes I always do this throughout the project, but especially during that last home stretch… I revisit all my notes and think back, and always find a clue — that missing link that brings it all home.