I often have to find different ways of working with my clients depending on their needs and their goals. When I can understand where they want to go, I can adapt to them and build from a different position if that’s what’s needed.
As a coach, I have to be creative and by its very nature, coaching can inspire creativity because we take both a conscious and a sub-conscious approach to the process. This allows us to effectively visit the past, explore our behaviours and ultimately break through the barriers that hold us back.
The latest neuroscience research suggests that developing our creative potential will lead to greater success and fulfillment, in both our personal and professional lives. And the most successful companies are the ones with a history of creative ideas – it’s what differentiates them from the rest.
A study commissioned by Adobe and carried out by Forrester Consulting in 2014 found that companies that embrace creativity out-perform peers and competitors across the board in areas that include revenue growth, market share and talent acquisition.
“So much of what makes a company succeed — the ability to foster innovation, exceptional talent and leadership, and a high degree of brand recognition — is influenced by its creative perspective, practices, and culture.”
So what is creativity?
Gestalt psychologists define creativity as something that generates a new idea, insight, or solution through imagination rather than through logic or reason.
Creativity isn’t innovation but it is a mechanism to being innovative. Shelley H Carson, PH.D – Harvard University, author of Your Creative Brain, says that someone who’s creative is able to take pieces of information and “recombine them in novel or original ways that are somehow useful or adaptive.”
When that kind of approach is taken in a business atmosphere, the outcome can be both rewarding and pleasantly surprising. Fortunately, the human brain has an amazing ability to come up with completely novel ideas and we all have the capacity to be creative.
Is creativity good for us as individuals?
We’ve all heard about tortured geniuses and there’s a long-held view that creative people are tormented by inner demons – that ‘great art comes from great pain’. But according to Ashley Stahl, a career coach and keynote speaker, being creative is actually good for your health.
Writing for www.forbes.com, Stahl goes as far as to say that being creative is a basis for human life – it improves brain function and mental health, boosts our immune system and actually increases happiness!
She talks about ‘flow’, the state you enter when you’re completely absorbed in something. When you lose all sense of yourself and of time, your anxiety levels are reduced – your heart rate slows down and your mood lifts.
We’re apparently more creative when we’re feeling positive. It’s also an effective treatment for people with dementia, reducing depression and isolation and helping to sharpen the senses.
Can we get more creative?
It’s long been thought that you either are creative or you aren’t – it can’t be taught. Tina Seelig, executive director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program at Stanford University, disagrees.
She says there are tools and techniques that can help you get more creative and generate fresh ideas, and that our brains are built for creative problem-solving so it’s easy to enhance our natural inventiveness.
Essentially, knowledge fuels imagination which in turn acts as a catalyst for new ideas. As long as the environment you’re working in fosters creativity, supports learning and rewards new ideas, you can improve your creative side by looking at every situation and opportunity from different angles.
This will help you to challenge traditional assumptions and bring new perspective to the things you see, hear and experience.
How can you encourage creativity in the workplace?
So, being creative is good for our mental health and it helps to create successful businesses. Plus, creative people are more adaptable to change and more comfortable with ambiguity, so it may well pay to foster creativity within your organisation.
Brittany Hester highlights a number of areas where creativity at work can be encouraged.
- Allow freedom of expression – we’re more creative when we can choose our work methods to some degree. If a method or line of work is too difficult, it can suppress creativity. Give employees time to recharge too – we all need to step back sometimes.
- Create diverse work groups – diversity allows us to collaborate, and gives us opportunities to bounce off each other and solve problems. Different approaches and opinions help us reach our creative capacity.
- Use the “Yes, and…?” approach – it encourages us to build on our colleagues’ thoughts by adding our ideas to the discussion.
- Help create a safe environment – when we feel safe and encouraged, we’re happier to speak up and let our ideas roll freely, knowing we won’t be judged.
- Reward and praise creativity – it goes a long way to enhancing self-confidence and motivation. A positive working environment is a fertile breeding ground for creativity.
Companies that are creative are more successful. And with a little planning and the right tools and techniques, we can all start to put creativity on the agenda.
When you want to explore your creative thinking please get in touch.
The Creative Dividend: How Creativity Impacts Business Results, Forrester Consulting, 2014
Who Says Creativity Can’t Be Learned, Ned Smith, Senior Writer, Business News Daily
Creativity: It’s Important to Your Business, Brittany Hester, May 2019, Catmedia
The Importance of Creativity in Business, Lauren Landry, November 2017, Northeastern University
Here’s How Creativity Actually Improves Your Health, Ashley Stahl, Forbes
What Neuroscience Has To Say About ‘Tortured Genius’, Sarah Klein, Huffington Post
Your Creative Brain: Seven Steps to Maximise Imagination, Productivity and Innovation in Your Life, Shelley Carson, Ph.D