November 2017

Getting out of our own (creative) way

You’ve got a great client looking for new ideas. They have a budget and a decent timeline. You can’t wait to get started. You can just feel the ideas coming to the surface. Then, without warning, crickets. What happened?! And, more importantly, what can you do about it?

During the creative process, our subconscious is constantly at work on new ideas, but we have a habit of crushing them before they can even be heard. We let our fear in: we worry that our idea is bad, we become preoccupied with the challenges we must overcome, and with the work it’ll take to make the idea successful. And, no matter the effort, there’s always a chance we will fail.

But what if we were to take a step back and look at a problem not as an expert, but as a beginner – like someone free of all the baggage and nay-saying a person with years of experience naturally brings to the ideation process? It’s great to be an expert, but by adopting a beginner’s mindset in the concept phase, we can free ourselves from constraints and instead choose to see endless possibilities.

So how can we achieve a beginner’s mindset? One way we can get ourselves to think this way is to disrupt our routines. One of the biggest creative roadblocks is getting caught up in the inspiration-sucking schedule of our day-to-day. We need to consciously disrupt our daily patterns. It can be as simple as driving a new route to work, or trying a new sandwich for lunch. It could also be something more involved, like taking a class and learning a new skill. By taking these actions, big or small, we force ourselves to detach from our rigidly structured days and expectations, and become open to finding new and different inspiration.

We should also give ourselves permission to come up with all solutions, whether they are good or bad. We discount many ideas based upon past experiences. Maybe we discredit them for not being possible, or too difficult to bring to life. Instead, let’s look at every ideation session as a new opportunity to creative problem-solve, with endless opportunities and no right or wrong answers. If we give ourselves the chance to be wrong, it frees our thinking and moves us away from safe ideas toward ones that are truly original. Chances are if you come up with lots of unusable ideas, you’ll also come up with a few gems along the way.

Changing our environment can also help when it comes to embracing the beginner’s mindset. For some, sitting in a conference room with a large group of people isn’t the best environment to come up with the “world’s most awesome idea.” Our best thinking happens while relaxed, even if that means being outside the office. Acknowledge that your surroundings play a big part in the ideation process, and if the ideas aren’t coming, change your scenery.

These are all small changes in our thinking and the way we approach our daily lives. But, by allowing ourselves to shift our perspective and mindset, we can kick-start our creativity. Just imagine what we could dream up and accomplish for our clients (as well as in our own lives) if we adopted this mentality. To see a world of endless possibilities, we just need to get out of our own way.

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By Nicole Griswold
Associate Creative Director