Originally printed in The Appleton Post Crescent, November 23, 2014.
One notion you will never convince me of is that you are not a creative person. I’m not buying it.
Think of all the tasks you accomplish in a typical day. Do you think those might require some creative thinking? From jimmy-rigging the side mirror to your car with tape and a shoestring to scratching your back with a rake or even using the leftovers in your fridge to make a delicious soup, it all takes creativity. Admit it, you have had moments of sheer genius.
With that being said, I understand the office may not be the most conducive place for you to come up with your best ideas.
To help you overcome this challenge, here is some advice on how to keep the great ideas flowing while you are on the clock:
Be observant: Watch what is happening around you. Listen to what other people are saying. Sometimes the only thing holding you back from a brilliant moment is the right phrase, song or coffee spill. Some of the greatest inventors in history would be nothing had they not been inspired by what was around them. So take it all in. Regardless of what you are working on, you never know what is going to spark a creative idea.
Don’t force it: Innovation and creativity do not have a schedule, that’s the simple truth. Those light bulb moments can come seconds before you slip into peaceful slumber or while you are warming up your macaroni at lunchtime. Even when you are at work, sometimes you have to let ideas come to you. Chasing them can lead to frustration and rushed decisions, which does not help the creative process. If something is not coming to you, walk away from it and come back later. Find another task you can preoccupy yourself with and let the ideas stew for a while.
Share ideas: You are not the only person trying to come up with a creative scheme or an innovative solution to a problem. Throw your ideas out there and see what others have to say. The person sitting next to you may just have the answer you are looking for. This is not cheating. Innovation often means collaboration. Talking to someone about your work opens the door to a fresh perspective and gives you a chance to hear your ideas out loud. And who knows, you may just inspire them.
Fail gracefully: Man did not fly on the first try. Part of innovation is eliminating ideas that won’t work. Don’t panic if an idea goes up in flames. Learn from the misfire and keep the creativity coming. A bad idea for one problem could be the solution to another, so never be afraid to consider them all as possible solutions. You never know what could turn into a winning idea.
As long as you are positive and open, you can turn your workplace into a place of inspiration.
Tom Beschta is an account coordinator at Coalesce Marketing. He can be reached at 920-380-4444 or firstname.lastname@example.org.