Stirring Up Creativity

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Counting bunnies –that’s what we do on our morning walks. There’s something satisfying about spotting a bunny casually munching away. The more we spot – the better the day! At least that’s how the game goes. Once while staying in Southern California in a particularly bunny blessed neighborhood, I counted more than 89. That was a very good day!

On one of our recent morning walks, my husband and I had a conversation about bunnies that changed everything for me. He informed me that bunnies were rodents!

In an instant, I saw bunnies in a very different light. I know I might be stepping on some toes here, but I loathe mice and rats! I know Mickey Mouse has gone a long way to improve the reputations of rodents, but I find the creatures disgusting.

Back to bunnies – the good news is that they are not rodents after all – at least not since 1912 when they were moved to a new order: Lagomorpha. To qualify as a rodent, you must be the proud owners of a single set of incisors that grow continuously; handy little gnawing tools. Rabbits on the other hand, have an extra pair of incisors and indulge in an herbivorous diet. Rodents also eat meat.

Just one last fun fact: Did you know that a group of bunnies is called Fluffle? Isn’t that awesome?

So why do I bring this bunny business up? To show how one small piece of information can have a powerful effect on your perspective! It can lead to a monumental shift.

If you are human, you face challenges and obstacles. You face them personally and professionally. You might even say challenges and obstacles are unavoidable! What was the last big challenge, hurdle, obstacle (whatever your name for them is) that you confronted? Did you let that little bugger bring you to a halt? Or did you push forward and try to force something to happen?

Challenges, set backs, and obstacles are actually invitations to get creative.

Here’s the beauty in a challenge: it naturally produces boundaries. You might think that freedom leads to the most creative ideas, but being forced to adhere to certain boundaries actually forces you to come up with options you would otherwise miss. Most likely they will be superior ideas or solutions too!

How can you get out of your rut and gather the information that will help propel you in a more innovative direction? Here’s what you need to keep in mind when it comes to stirring up creativity:

1. Know the Result You’re After

Some goals are obvious. Other times the results you’re after are vague. Knowing what the target is before you get started is crucial.

2. Set the Stage

Give yourself, or your team, permission to think outside the box. Nothing hinders creativity more than criticism or the possibility of looking foolish. Give yourself the go-ahead to experiment and make mistakes – possibly even look a little foolish!  Maybe even fail! And permission to deviate from the way it’s always been done.

3. Use Tools

Left to your own devices, you’ll approach challenges the same old way! Using tools to help you consider the situation in a whole new light is powerful. It has the potential to lead to new information that can help you shift in a brand new direction.

Here are a few tools to consider whether you are working solo or with a team:

  • Hats – Identify three to five different people who would wear a hat, such as a fireman, baseball player, cowboy, magician, and/or king. Don’t like those options? What about an astronaut, college grad, jester, nun, or motorcyclist? The point is to have very different “hat wearers” that translate into different perspectives to consider. What questions would they want to know about this challenge? What unique perspectives or solutions would they offer?
  • A Solution Circle – Have each person jot down a brief solution to the problem on a piece of paper. Next, pass the papers around to the right. After reading the solution written on the paper, add any new ideas that come to mind. Continue passing the papers and adding ideas and suggestions until the papers have made it full circle. Then read through the solutions described and discuss them. This method has the advantage of drawing out those quieter types and ensures that their ideas are heard. How the ideas all come together – that will depend on how you facilitate the discussion.
  • 100 Ideas – Write down 100 possible ideas or solutions as quickly as you can. This can be done alone with pen and paper, on the computer, or as a team on post-it notes. Just be sure to number the idea no matter which method you use to make discussing and referencing the ideas easier.
  • Capture Your Ideas – sometimes the best solutions come to you in the shower, while driving to work, or on your morning walk. Having a system for capturing these ideas is priceless! A small notebook or journal works or for the more techy types, use your phone or computer. The goal is to have one place to record your brilliant thoughts!
  • Using All Four Thinking Preferences – You have a preferred way of thinking. In order to branch out and come up with fresh information and solutions consider areas that you might ordinarily overlook. Divide a sheet of paper into four quadrants as shown and brainstorm using the various categories as your guide. Use the guide that best fits your situation.

4. Exercise Your Creativity Muscle

Without exercising your creativity muscle, it won’t be strong enough to serve you when you need it most. What creative activities can you engage in? It doesn’t have to time consuming. In fact, even doodling for a few minutes can stir up your creativity! Here are a few ways to stretch your creative muscles today:

  • Door Knock Dinner – Come up with something new to prepare for dinner using just what you have in the pantry.
  • 30 Circles Exercise – Draw 30 circles on a sheet of paper – they don’t have to be perfect. Turn each circle into something different. For example, one circle might be a bunny, another circle a clock, etc.
  • Sketch it! – Draw something on your desk – a paper clip, stapler, or pen. Take it a step further by coming up with ten or more different ways to create one of those items.
  • Color – Yes! Adult coloring books provide quick ways to ignite your creativity with color choices, shading, experimenting with different mediums, and more!
  • PaintPinterest is brimming with painting ideas– check it out! Not to mention hordes of other creative projects.
  • Write a Song – You don’t even have to be a skilled musician! Just write new lyrics to a familiar tune. It could be about a memorable moment, something you’ve learned, or about someone you admire. Give it a go! Not inspired by music? Write a story or poem instead.
  • Make It NEW! – Take something you do regularly such as lead a meeting, exercise, or pay the bills and find a way to spice it up!
5. Go to the Source

Last, but certainly not least, go the One who is the very source of creativity: God. Regularly connecting with Him has the potential to stir up your creativity like nothing else!

Approaching the challenges in your life more creatively won’t just happen. In fact, it’ll probably take some creativity to find a way to carve out the space it takes to relax, dream, and consider whatever you are bumping up against with creativity! I promise it will be worth the time! And what’s exciting: creativity spurs on creativity. You could say it breeds like bunnies!

How do you stir up your creativity? Where would a bit more creativity benefit you?

© Can Stock Photo / alphaspirit

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