Unleashing Creativity - The Link between Humor and the Creative Process

 


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Today more than ever we are required to be creative. From solving managerial problems to coming up with new product ideas to inventing yet another process, the demand is real and increasing. Without tools and processes that can help break the restrictive patterns of selective thought, we’ll continue to work only with what now exists and miss the joy of releasing our natural creative abilities.

The Challenge
One of the major challenges is to clearly understand that creativity is a unique function of our minds. It does not judge or condemn, evaluate or measure, compare or assess. It cannot because it is a totally different way of processing information. Creativity is wholistic and intuitive, which is nearly impossible to describe. And yet it is as critical as breathing to our survival. The imagination, which is its primary tool, is capable if unbelievable feats. Some believe its power is at the center of all that we would call reality. The only thing that holds us back from the daily experience of the real power and magic of our own daily creativity is ourselves.

The Reality
For a wide variety of reasons we have learned to distrust our innate creative talents. We have been taught that it is dangerous, chaotic, uncontrollable, unstructured, and undisciplined. It is. But that is its nature. The energy of discovering new forms and of seeing things in new ways is a threat to the energy that would like things to stay just the way they are. We are divided by the notion that our thoughts must be at odds with our dreams. And it has created a deep chasm between our work and our creative self.

The reality? Both are part of who we are. We know this, but very little of our professional and public lives reward us for pursuing our creative selves. Even privately, we endeavor to develop our creative side only if we have a burning desire that cannot be extinguished. At work? We don’t score points for dreaming or reflecting. But that’s exactly what we must do if we want to continue to improve, innovate, and remain competitive.

The Way to Play
There are some ways to bring creativity back into your work life - and to instill it into your employees. Here are a few things you can do:

  • Examine the work environment itself. Check and see if there are any barriers, physical or political, to people exercising their creative muscles. Ask questions like, How are creative efforts received? Is there a venue for suggestions and ideas? Do we really understand and implement effective brainstorming methods? Do we appreciate the value of play and humor? Are these things just as valid as serious planning and organizing efforts?

  • Provide resources and education. Make up-to-date information on the subject available to all employees, in a library or regular publication. Provide training that is varied and has depth, as there are many approaches to creativity and innovation. Allow people to explore and study related subjects on company time. Topics like stress, systems thinking, Chaos Theory, comparative philosophy, psychology are just a few that are relevant and directly useful in the workplace. There are tons of books, articles, audio and video tapes out there that are very well done and can spark a new enthusiasm for research and learning.

  • Support the change effort. Everyone can be a part of encouraging and modeling the behavior that is most desirable. While the level of creative energy “output” will vary with the purpose and nature of the business, demonstrating courage and commitment to creating a fun and progressive atmosphere is everyone’s job. Hold each other accountable. Support creative activities. Gently but firmly point out to those who tend to shoot down ideas and efforts before they get a chance to go anywhere that it’s counterproductive and hurtful. Target and recognize behavior that is punishing and condescending to creative efforts, and work together to seek alternatives. Most of all, be the example of an open-minded, playful, perceptive, and intuitive professional as much as the serious, focused, hard-working and knowledgeable employee. Most businesses want both.

  • Use a variety of approaches to actual creative activities. Brainstorming and other creative ways of gaining an innovative edge have a myriad of methods. Use them all. There are whole books that are merely collections of techniques and tools. They are all good, but some work better than others in a given situation. Only through experience and experimentation can you discover which serve your needs best. And it will change for different groups of people as well as subjects. Don’t let the failure of one method destroy any possibility of using it or any other one again. It’s not about quick success and results - it’s about a process that leads to genuine breakthroughs in present thinking. That’s not necessarily easy. But it can be fun.

    Training
    The training of our Creativity is often confusing. Instead of popular courses on creative insight, we have popular courses on “Professional Burnout” and “Stress Management” and “Working With Difficult Personalities”, all of which could be the result of not understanding the most fundamental determining factor of all such experiences: the use of our imagination

    A good Creativity workshop, (like mine!), is designed to help free up and exercise our creative selves by first helping people understand how the imagination works. Then, by creating a safe environment in which we can experiment and explore, participants work with the principal method of exercising creativity: play. But rather than just engage in silly games, through a specific set of exercises we’ll discover how we think about play, how we are reluctant to do so in most situations, and what other barriers to its manifestation can be removed. Only in looking carefully at what holds us back can we begin to move forward.

    We all have the creative talent to begin. As a matter of fact, we already have all the creativity we’re going to get! It’s not so much about getting “more” imagination or creativity, it’s about cutting it loose and seeing how much there really is. That’s when we get a glimpse of just how limitless we can really be.

    An accomplished actor, director, teacher, trainer, musician, and professional speaker, Andy Weisberg has performed and taught in over 100 universities and businesses throughout the U. S. and abroad. In industry, his non-traditional approach to training has increased productivity and effectiveness, restoring creativity and growth. Please visit Andy’s website at http://www.speaktomenow.com

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