Do you long to develop your creative side but don’t know where to begin?
Can you develop creativity?
Psychologists have long delved deep into the world of creativity. The research delivers good news – creativity can be developed. Robert Epstein, psychologist and author of “The Big Book of Creativity Games”, explains that there is little evidence to support the existence of an elusive ‘creativity gene.’ Instead Epstein suggests that creativity is a skill which, with effort, we can all develop.
Fellow psychologist and creativity expert, Jonathan Plucker, agrees that we can develop creativity. He explains, “As strange as it sounds, creativity can become a habit.” Plucker’s research also suggests that developing the habit of creativity can also help us to become more productive.
The evidence for building a creative habit
Epstein’s research suggests that by developing certain habits we can build creativity and generate a host of new ideas. Epstein worked with seventy-four city employees from Orange County in California and actively engaged them in creativity training seminars. The city employees participated in games and exercises developed by Epstein to strengthen their abilities to perform four skill sets. Epstein followed up with the employees after eight months and found that they’d increased their rate of new idea generation by 55 percent. The employees new ideas resulted in $600,000 in new revenue and saved approximately $3.5 million by implementing innovative cost saving measures.
4 steps to a more creative you
So how can we develop the habit of creativity and reap the benefits of a creative mind? Epstein’s research points to four key skills:
1. Don’t let your new ideas slip away. Make a note of all your great ideas as they come to you. Keep your ‘new ideas’ log in a way that works best for you, send yourself texts, use a notebook app on your phone or tablet, record your ideas or carry a notebook.
2. Take on challenging tasks. Seek out tasks that don’t present an obvious solution. Part of the creative process involves combining different ideas and things that we’ve learned to create new ideas. When old ideas compete to find a solution, new ideas are born.
3. Broaden your knowledge. Take an interest in a variety of subjects rather than focusing on one specialism. The more subjects you understand, the broader your knowledge base is for connecting subjects. Epstein believes this to be the linchpin of creative thought. Epstein’s research suggests that this approach improves performance in all areas of life.
4. Surround yourself with interesting people and objects. Spend time with friends and colleagues who have interesting passions. Friends with different interests to your own are a great source of new information. Surrounding yourself with objects of interest can also help to develop new ideas. Explore new activities and places. Visit a city, attend a play or watch a film to promote new ideas.
Hear Robert Epstein talking about his work on creativity and explain how pigeons and bananas ignited new ideas for his creativity research.