When we’re young, we do a lot of creative things. We have imaginary friends or scenarios; we ask “out there” questions our parents don’t know how to respond to, we draw things and name them as something. Unfortunately, for many of us, we lose our creativity as we grow up. We trade it in for math problems and social quizzes, and by the time we’re adults, we’ve stifled our creativity. As the world separates the analytical and the creative, we will often yield to the more socially correct norm, and we abandon the creative part of ourselves.
We need creativity, though – it is essential to our success as business owners. Creative thinking has helped companies rise, and there’s a specialized program at Stanford University to help students develop their creativity. We all have the natural ability to think outside the box and create significant change, but it needs to be honed. You have to go beyond the fear of the unknown, fear of judgment, fear of taking that first giant leap, and the fear of losing control.
You Have Trouble With The First Step
Even if you’re willing to embrace your creative ideas, there’s still that first leap you need to take. Innovative efforts are hard at first – a writer will face a blank page, an artist will face a blank canvas, and those in business will have that first day of a new project. In addition, there is often the fear of the unknown. As you take on something brand new, it can be scary. You’re breaking out of the predictable, and your brain will automatically resist this.
To overcome the fear of taking the first step, just get started. Don’t try to preplan too much and resist focusing on the overall task. Just digest it in small pieces and watch it unfold. Creative ideas usually mean you’re going outside of your comfort zone, which is a good thing. It allows you to grow and for some positive change to occur that could see big payouts. Just trust in the process.
Overcoming Fear of the Unknown
Part of creative thinking in business involves empathy for your customers. You can’t get that by staying in the office. Instead, you have to go out into the world, which is a lot less predictable. The data can contradict what your computer tells you; irrational people may say things you don’t want to hear. But, it is where the insights are and your opportunity for growth. You become more aware of what people think, and this allows you to make changes.
Doing some good old fieldwork helps you to get out of your comfort zone. A group project taking place at Stanford Business School resulted in the student going to Nepal. They were looking to design a low-cost incubator for newborn babies. In Nepal, they saw babies born prematurely, which put them in grave danger, as they were far from any hospitals and didn’t need a cheap incubator. The villagers said they needed a way to keep the babies warm, which was the most important thing to ensure their survival.
From this information, the team was able to design a baby-sized sleeping bag. It came with a pouch that had a special heat-storing wax. Their product, “The Embrace Infant Warmer,” costs 99% less than your usual incubator without an external power source and could save millions of babies who are born prematurely every year. They wouldn’t have come up with this idea if they weren’t inspired by villagers in Nepal.
You Have Control Issues
To get over the fear of losing control, you’ll have to hone your inner confidence. You want to believe in those creative ideas and be willing to let them go if they’re not working. You will also want to accept good ideas from others you work with. Abandon the status quo and work in collaboration with your team. Let go of control over things around you like the product, your business, and the team you work with. You’re then supporting others to be creative and express their thoughts. If you’re facing a challenge, invite others on your team to come up with some ideas. The moment you feel the tension of maintaining control, try to let that go. It gives you a chance to leverage other perspectives.
You’re Afraid of What Others Will Think
When you were a child, you would sing, dance, and act like a crazy animal. You weren’t self-conscious about this. However, as you got into your teenage years, you began to care a lot about what people around you most likely thought. When you stopped expressing your creative side, enough time went by that you let this part of you go dormant. Fear of judgment happens quickly and stays with us even when we stop caring as much about what people think.
It became a habit but also, with enough repression, it seems like something taboo. The problem is, this can put constraints on your career. While we don’t suggest singing at the top of your lungs in the middle of a meeting, it’s that creative mind in general that can help you with innovative ideas. Your creative ideas are being stunted due to fear that your bosses or coworkers will see you fail. Instead, you stick to safety when thinking of solutions. You hang back and let others take the risk, but those big ideas will never come if you censor yourself. Start resisting the inner voice that judges you. Listen to your intuition and look a little deeper into those ideas that develop.
Practice your creativity by doing a bit of writing or painting. You don’t have to be good at it; only give up control while you’re doing it. Pay attention to your mindset as you do this. Write your thoughts down if you have some epiphanies. Then take this mindset to the workplace. Once you open up the creative part of yourself in one area, the brain will automatically become creative in every aspect of your life. Use it for business, and you could be the next big innovator for something nobody has ever thought about.