3 Ideas For Getting Over That Creative Slump

1156284_39977081 Whether you’re writing that next great novel, unleashing your inner artist or brainstorming for the next big project at the office, you want creative juices flowing. What if it all shuts down though? What if you’ve found yourself in the iconic “writer’s block”? Read on for 3 tips on how to keep chugging along without losing your stride…

1. Change the zoom!

Have you ever looked at an instruction manual that showed the finished product laid out in its “exploded view”? I’m talking about when it shows all the components, bolts, nuts and screws with lines connecting each part to where it needs to go. If you’ve put together anything from IKEA then you know what I’m talking about and you’ve probably begun twitching from the memory…I’m so sorry…

Anyway, sometimes the best way to get over a creative slump is to change your “zoom level”. In other words try zooming out of what you’re focusing on right now and zoom into a different component for a bit. You can also zoom in to see the small things that make the whole. For instance perhaps you’re looking at the whole house when you should just focus on the kitchen, the spare bathroom or how you’re going to increase the audio dampening ability of your teenager’s bedroom walls.

This simple switching back and forth can help break up the monotony and set your brain free!

 

2. Compare your apples to your oranges.

So now you’re zooming in and out and all over your project making changes here and there. What’s next? Well for the next level of slump-slappin goodness we’re going to start comparing how our changes to the individual components are actually affecting other components. What’s that mean you say? If I expand my kitchen to allow for more pies to be produced then how is that going to affect the space I made in my dining room for the eating of said pies? We’re quickly coming up to a critical “bake to eat” pie ratio here!

When we start thinking about how the changes we make in one area can affect other areas it can open up a lot more to explore. Think even on possible intangible changes that might occur. Like how I want pie now…

 

3. Solve a different problem.

This may seem odd but you gotta try it. Let’s say you’ve been designing the next great widget that goes on the whatchamacallit that’s part of the super X3000 Gen 2 thing. After you’ve refilled your coffee and cracked the knuckles just stop and switch to a completely foreign project for a few minutes.

Now in your head you’re designing the next super car for your favorite automobile company. Yes I know you may not be an engineer but let’s just pretend. Just…dream. Go through switching the zoom in and out and thinking about what component changes might affect others. Most of all though have fun! Then after a bit come back and start afresh on your project. It will be a nice reset for your brain and hey, who knows? You might even be able to glean an idea from la-la land to use on your own project!

I hope this helps! I love ya and Jesus loves ya. Until next time – keep creating!

6 Ideas For A More Creative Leader – Part 2

1433983_61997011Hey all! It’s time to finish up the Creative Leader post with Part 2 here. Let’s get right into it with our next point…

4. A Creative Working Environment

Let’s talk more about that lightning rod that catches inspiration from a previous point in Part 1. First off –

What environment can you establish that will generate creative thoughts for you and/or your organization?

If it’s possible; use nature! A lot of people find that when they are able to see nature then they are able to get the light bulb to turn on. It’s no wonder that God’s creation has the ability to spark imagination within those who are made in His image. So can you get to a window? Maybe you can take a quick walk through a park. If all else fails you can even put up pictures of God’s creation that may move you.

As far as layout goes there are actually some companies that will design their buildings to help their people generate ideas. I know this may not be possible for most to do but hey, it’s still really cool to dream! Here’s some ideas if you happen to have access to this possibility…

– There are some software companies that actually design a “hive” workspace where everyone works together in one large room so that they have instant collaboration. Then there are small private areas where they can go to get alone for focus time.

– Other companies will actually design their conference rooms like a residential living room so that it takes on a more family oriented atmosphere. This way it breaks up whatever may be the norm.

– There are even businesses that will design the hallway to the bathroom to be extra long so that employees will be forced to talk to others while they are walking!

– Some places have small out of the way areas where people can go to just allow their mind to wander so that they can recharge. I’ve actually heard of one that puts out a couple chairs and a table with PlayDoh on it so that their people aren’t stuck creating only one type of thing throughout the day. Along these lines if you’ve never seen pictures of Google’s workspace then I really encourage you to check them out. Be warned though; you will never be the same.

5. Balancing Leadership and Management

Okay so let’s say you have this vision. This vision is awesome and wow you really want to make this happen, right? All of a sudden this annoying “management” stuff starts getting in the way though. What? Can’t we just dream and it just works or something? Gosh!

Right…back to reality. Management is needed but if it’s not balanced it can suffocate our ability to dream. If we stop dreaming then we stop creating and that’s why this point has to be here for a more creative leader.

The disconnect can happen easily. The main thing to remember is that management only maintains but only leadership can bring change. As you go higher in rank the leadership needs to raise and the management needs to lower. The problem of dream suffocation happens a lot to people at the top because they haven’t delegated enough management to others so that they can lead. As an example, when Steve Jobs was around at Apple he passed a large amount of management off to his second in charge so that he could keep being the creative entrepreneur for the company.

It’s like taking your vitamins. Don’t forget to delegate!

6. Finally – Culture, Culture and some more Culture!

What are people doing when the boss isn’t looking? That’s what defines culture in a workplace. Is your creativity flowing down the ladder?

You already have a culture where you are so why not shape it to be awesome? When we combine all these things we’ve been talking about we arrive at a place where we actually become a culture bomb that ignites people around us. When it’s “just what we do” it becomes electric. People like being a part of something that sets them on fire. Do you want a great platform to be able to talk about the Lord? Be a creator like your Father and the people He wants to hook up to your work will come running. Be a culture bomb for the Kingdom of God!

In closing I just want to mention something here… If someone comes by and wrecks your sand castle it may hurt but hey; it’s okay. It’s sand. You’ll just build a new one! Here’s the thing – Jesus sees the heart and He can restore what the locust has eaten. He can also protect what’s in your heart. Remember through these type of times what Phil. 1:6 says: 

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. NASB

I love you guys and gals! Now go make something.

 

Question time! What is one simple change to your workspace that can help generate creative ideas?

6 Ideas For A More Creative Leader – Part 1

Garden Design Blueprint SketchingDo you consider yourself creative? Where would you rate your creativity at? How about compared to others? There’s probably someone you know that you can think of right now that can just blow your mind away when it comes to creativity, isn’t there? So what makes them special? What makes creative people so creative?

Here’s the thing… I don’t like when I hear folks say that they aren’t creative. Ya know why? Because we are made in the image of God! Therefore, we all have ridiculously, amazing, powerful, stupendous, where-in-the-world-did-that-come-from creativity prowess! I mean… let’s not forget where we come from aye?

There can be a number of disconnects that cause us to not see ourselves as creative. Maybe a person hasn’t found their calling yet. Maybe they stopped dreaming a while ago because of a dark moment or their hope being deferred. Whatever the cause; Jesus restores all.

Having said that, I want to bring some ideas that I’ve learned to help leaders (and those who think they aren’t leaders!) generate creativity within themselves as well as in their organizations. I believe that the Lord wants to connect His children to His creative power. He is the light of the world and we can stand to get some of His creativity in us to change this place for the better!

1. Mastery and Discipline Expertise

You know I have to start out at the stewardship level, right? Obviously we have to start from a place where we are dedicated and focused on being our best. We can’t just be our best anywhere though. We need to know where to put all this focus on! Because we are created, we don’t get to choose where our talents are; we get to discover where our talents are. On the individual level this requires research, soul search, and God search.

As far as choosing the right people for the right job though, that’s going to require a more focused hiring process than the norm. Many Fortune 500 companies know this and have made their hiring process to have multiple steps for admittance. In short – hire the best.

When people fit where they are supposed to they learn fast, act fast and adopt fast. They also mesh well with each other and it helps generate excellence within the team. Ask yourself how they will fit into the culture of the organization. The hiring process should be lengthy and deliberate. It isn’t enough to work hard. If you’ve hired a hard-working accountant who is actually an architect on the inside, then you won’t get the full talent that’s needed. God’s gift achieves more than man’s sweat.

2. Reach Outside of the Discipline for Ideas

Bridge Fields – Connecting different fields can give insight! Go look at a completely different industry and see how they deal with what you’re dealing with. Perhaps they’ve found a way to accomplish about the same thing that you are.

Blend Fields – Is there something that you can create that is a hybrid of different fields? Think about how Apple blended tech and artful design together.

3. Expect and Schedule Creativity

There’s this thought that creativity is like lightning striking and you can’t choose when or where. Well that doesn’t mean you can’t hold up a lightning rod in the middle of a field on a stormy day! We can create environments that “catch” creativity. All kinds of people have great inventions in their head. Most of them don’t get them to market though because they aren’t ready for it. Here’s some steps to make creation a routine –

1. Review what’s been done – If change is going to happen then we need a starting point to know if that change is doing us any good. Save the good parts and move on. Be careful not to get stuck on a method! Every organization needs to be reborn at some point.

2. Generate New Ideas – Instill habits within your organization to spend time on creative ideas. Schedule brainstorming! I know this sounds like a no-brainer but sometimes you will hear that there’s “just no time”. Even worse is when no one cares about what the folks down in the trenches are thinking.

3. Test Ideas – Don’t be afraid to fail and don’t let others be afraid to fail! Learn to fail fast and then move on.

4. Use the Best Ideas – In other words; do it right. When you find a good idea take the time to make it really work. One polished idea is better than the clutter of many “ok” ideas.

Part 2 to come…

Question: What is one simple habit that you can establish that will schedule an opportunity for creative ideas?