You’re in the boardroom with your team, everyone is brainstorming ideas, and the whiteboard is turning into a work of erasable-marker art. But you’re reluctant to add creative input, even in a space designed to be free from judgment.
Andrew and Gaia Grant, authors of the book Who Killed Creativity: …And How Do We Get It Back, and the article The 7 Biggest Creativity Killers, think you might have a creativity killer watching over your shoulder, holding you back from reaching your true creative potential.
It’s time to put an end to these creativity killers. Here are the 5 main culprits, and how you can stop them.
Isolating yourself from different ideas and viewpoints will lead to you always taking the “safe” route.
Creativity Killer #1: Pessimism
It’s hard to be creative if you’re always thinking negatively.
Pessimism is an overall negative mindset in which you’re reluctant to build upon your creative ideas. Your creative pursuits may not have been successful in the past, and you assume they won’t be successful moving forward. Not only does it stifle your creativity, but along the way you also start to undermine the ideas of others.
Quick Fix: Start reframing negative experiences by focusing on what went right. Use positive language like “and” instead of “but”. Take up a new hobby and don’t stop until you’ve mastered it.
Creativity Killer #2: Fear
Pessimism’s cousin, fear, is a notorious creativity killer. Whereas pessimism is an overall negative outlook on new ideas, fear is built on anxieties and an unwillingness to take any form of risk. It removes your childlike instinct and quest to satisfy your curiosities by focusing on the uncertainties of an idea, rather than the potential benefits and positive outcomes.
Quick Fix: Embrace the fear as part of the creative process. Yes, failure is possible, and yes, failure will happen. But it happens to everyone, and should never be the roadblock that prevents you from pursuing your creative endeavours.
Creativity Killer #3: Pressure
The expectations placed upon your shoulders by yourself, or others, can be overbearing. “The faster pace of life, a greater reliance on technology, and significantly increased communication speeds,” says Gaia and Andrew, “have all contributed to [the] prevalence [of pressure].” An overwhelming feeling of pressure can cause you to “shut down” due to stress, or just “freeze up” by simply not being able to handle the pressure, both putting a stranglehold on your ability to be creative.
Quick Fix: Take charge of the pressure in your life by creating a detailed schedule of your tasks and daily/weekly goals. Make sure the schedule has enough space to cross off all your creative tasks, and schedule some free time for yourself to relax and unwind.
Being narrow-minded means that you always circle back to the same ideas and same processes
Creativity Killer #4: Isolation
Isolating yourself from different ideas and viewpoints will lead to you always taking the “safe” route. Limiting your experiences ends up limiting your capabilities, in the same way that never meeting new people limits your network. Whenever new ideas do pass your way, you can become overwhelmed and default back to what you know, what’s comfortable, and what’s secure – all barriers to true creative thinking.
Quick Fix: Expose yourself to different people, information, and ideas. Be receptive to the ideas of others – even if you don’t agree with the ideas, take the time to listen and understand. Pick up a good book from a genre you normally wouldn’t read and see if it gets your creativity juices flowing.
Creativity Killer #5: Narrow-mindedness
Being narrow-minded means that you always circle back to the same ideas and same processes – even though any creative process should be open, with all available options being explored. When given 5 paths to explore, you end up taking the path you’ve travelled before. This repeats itself until you always approach creative problems and decisions with the exact same thought processes.
Quick Fix: Toss aside your perceived expertise, acknowledge any prejudices you may have, and approach each creative project with a blank slate. Start putting yourself in others’ shoes to see how other people might perceive your point(s) of view, and imagine how they would tackle the problem head on.
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