The World Economic Forum defines creativity as "the ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem," and lists it in its 2016 Future of Jobs study as the 3rd most important skill global companies are looking for in employees.
We often think about creativity as making something, but in fact, the root meaning of the word means ‘to grow’. Human beings are essentially born creative–from infancy on we find innovative ways to negotiate life. The most creative people find ways around obstacles because they see them not just as roadblocks but also as opportunities.
However, creativity is one of those things that often befuddles people. How on earth, we wonder, does one create something brand new out of what seems like thin air? Something like the iPhone, that only strikes us as common sense after it was made?
Most of us conclude that we are simply not gifted with the ability to create. Science, however, points to the opposite. Over recent years, numerous research findings have found quite definitely that creativity can indeed be learned and nurtured.
Our brains just need a nudge – or several constant nudges – in order to quit being lazy and start making new connections. Creativity is a skill we all have and can improve with regular exercise.
"Creativity is not just for artists. It's for businesspeople looking for a new way to close a sale; it's for engineers trying to solve a problem; it's for parents who want their children to see the world in more than one way."--Twyla Tharp
Here are some daily exercises you can choose from to enhance your creativity. To make it into a habit, schedule "15 minutes of creativity" and try a different exercise each day. You might encourage your teachers to include some 'creativity exercises' in your classes:
- Draw something--fruit, your drink bottle, your dog, cat, a pile of books. Just draw, don't judge and don't erase.
- Draw an apple a day using a different technique each day, for a week. Ken Carbone did this daily, for 365 days - see his ideas above.
- Draw half of something and have the mirror effect draw the other half. Try symmetrical things like bottles, vases, forks, pencils.
- Look up a word in the dictionary, and then look up the word before and after. Make up a short story using the three words.
- Make new things with paper clips (earrings, letters of the alphabet, a heart). See how many things you can make in 5 minutes.
- Find one thing that starts with the first letter of your first name and another with the first letter of your last name. Mash them together to make a new thing: Apple for Andrew + Bus for Brown = Apple shaped bus. Draw it.
- Draw something on your desk, i.e. your drink bottle, without looking at your hand in 5 minutes. Cover your hand and drawing with a paper towel to not cheat. When done, take away the towel. Tadaaa! You'll be amazed.
- Draw something without lifting your pen.
- Write with your non-dominant hand. If a rightie, write with your left hand and vice versa.
- Write with both hands at the same time (architect Louis Kahn was amazing at this).
- Take photos of shadows.
- Keep a journal that has no writing, only drawings, mind maps, photos.
- Try using no technology for an hour every week. Instead of connecting via social media, talk to someone in person. Instead of Netflix, stare out the window.