By: Scott Trobaugh
We work in some competitive times. Regardless of industry, the pressure is on to be efficient, effective, and service-oriented while showing growth and staying ahead of the conversation. In all of the commotion and left-brain activity, it's hard sometimes to feel creative, much less produce truly innovative ideas.
Plenty of books have been written on the subject of enhancing creativity—of mining great ideas from the depths of that starboard mental hemisphere. They offer formulas and methods to enhance your mental output and maximize your potential. I've read a lot of these and benefited from many of them, but when it comes down to it, there's really one law of creativity that makes the most sense to me, and it came from Sir Isaac Newton.
Newton's First Law of Motion states that the velocity of a body remains constant unless the body is acted upon by an external force. Anything moving in a certain direction will continue doing so unless blocked, stopped, or slowed by an external force. Accordingly, anything at rest will remain at rest until acted upon by an external force. So a rolling ball would just keep rolling if not for friction and/or a wall. And that same ball will require a kick or push to get moving in the first place.
Creativity works the same way. As you exercise your creative muscles, they stay ready for action. If you let them rest, they remain that way. So how do you keep them in motion?
First, the more you look for creative opportunities in everyday life, the more you find them in your professional work. Creativity is a condition that doesn't know the bounds of an 8 to 5 workday... that's why you get great ideas in the shower, in traffic, and at 3:00 in the morning. Get in the habit of thinking about your world differently all the time, and capturing the ideas that result.
What are some of the things you do that involve creation? Cooking, gardening, cycling, and many other activities are all acts of creativity. You're preparing a meal, laying out a landscape plan, planning a route, etc. These are all things that would not exist without your input and are therefore creative. Try a new presentation method for the meal. Try a different or challenging layout when planting. Plan your cycling route around an alphabetical tour of landmarks. You'll notice things you didn't before. You'll see your everyday activities differently. And, when working on a project at work, because you're keeping your creativity in constant motion, you'll start to see that differently, too.
Another way to keep your creativity in motion is to look at the forces that act upon it daily. Find a way to reduce distractions, which are often the friction in the creative equation (this can be as simple as changing environments for a while, or just ignoring e-mail for two hours). You can also add new momentum by finding brainstorming partners who will act as a push for your ideas. Extra minds have an exponential effect on idea generation. Also, make sure you're giving your brain what it needs by eating well, staying hydrated and getting enough rest.
These are just a few tips... there are plenty of other ways to keep your creativity in motion. But the key is to think of it as a force more than a stockpiled resource. If you manage it well, it will only gain momentum, and will always produce results.