When I write a blog, I ask myself what’s going on for me right now. This can be a tough and uncomfortable question, and it would be a lot easier to just do some online research and expound on some trendy theme that will get picked up through my Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook accounts. After all, adding a new twist to the already familiar is the easiest territory to cover, and it’s often seen as an easy way to make money. But is it truly the best way to spend my time, and will it move me forward creatively, emotionally and financially?
Tapping into the deeper levels of self is always challenging and may seem self-indulgent. Yet we all have riches buried inside us—in our brains, our hearts and our numerous life experiences. Recycling may be great for some things, such as saving our planetary resources, but it’s the new, catchy, creative, innovative, imaginative, fun, playful stuff that grabs our attention—and ultimately wins our vote as well as our dollar.
We are wired for play, fun, interaction, inspiration, laughter, passion and connectedness. Yet we so readily fall into the trap of churning out the same old stuff, reverting to seemingly reliable systems, or somehow reinventing the wheel. If we want to enliven ourselves, stimulate new ideas, create new opportunities, and find greater fulfilment, we must do some digging.
To get serious about innovation, you have to go out to play
Play is seriously under-rated in business, but it is one of the core activities that inspire great innovation. It’s not a linear process, and it doesn’t relate to intelligence. It’s all about letting go of strategic thinking, having fun with ideas, and generally allowing your chronically under-utilized brain to come up with some creative new ways of seeing things.
Think of any great innovation and ask yourself:
- What established process was the innovator following?
- What did the innovator draw upon to come up with the idea?
- What did you feel, when you first used this new product/technology?
Usually, the greater the innovation, the less established was the process that led to it. Since there was probably no established process, the chances are that the innovation was sparked by some form of play. And when the product or technology came to market, wasn’t it exciting and even somehow strangely inevitable? Didn’t it prompt you to connect existing thoughts and feelings in new and satisfying ways? Creativity creating impact creating success.
Think about your own life, your own experiences.
What’s unique about you? Your experiences, relationships, insights, opinions, tastes, humour and flair represent a blend of skills, talents and perspectives that provide a springboard for your own unique brand of creative thinking. All we need to do is to find ways to stimulate our creativity—rather than suppress, avoid or ignore it—and then believe in it enough to turn it into innovation. And, in doing this, we need to support each other in the workplace and beyond.
An increasing number of employees are getting burned out, suffering stress and low morale, boredom and frustration at a time when CEOs know that the key to sustainable success is innovation. Dissatisfaction and innovation don’t work well together, but it’s not as if no one knows how to remedy this situation. I won’t go into that here but a web search reveals a ton of information and help on this subject, and also confirms that creative people live longer and are happier, healthier and more productive. So, what’s to lose?
Creativity is our lifeblood
We are all naturally creative. As children, we are especially creative in play, which is encouraged until we ‘need to take life more seriously’ and buy into the delusions that are foisted upon us. As we use up the world’s resources, get ever more crowded on our little blue planet and have to cope with increasing disengagement in the workplace as people become more cynical and disillusioned, surely we need to get creative again. We’ll never solve personal, social or planetary problems by further study and emulation of the methods that got us to this point. Yet we all have the capability to innovate our way forward to a happy and sustainable future.
So I wrote this blog without reference to the web or any books. Right now, I’m focused on finding that healthy balance between striving for success and letting it unfold, while dwelling in the uncertainty of the creative process—and making time to just play and have fun. Hopefully, it will strike a chord, for some people, somewhere deep inside. Others may find it crass, obvious or boring kitchen-sink philosophy.
But whatever anyone thinks, it’s from the heart and, after 60 colourful years, it’s the only way I want to live. How about you?