1. Don’t stop at the first right answer
There is always more than one right answer to each challenge you face. That is a fact. Because of time constraints and other work pressures we have a tendency to stop searching for solutions as soon as we encounter our first good idea. My first advice is simple. Don’t settle for the first right answer you encounter. Once you’ve found your first solution, begin your search for a second solution and then a third. The only way to find the best solution is to line up all the right answers and then choose the best from among them.
2. Cowboy Up!
It takes thick skin to be a professional creative. Rhinos don’t need skin this thick. Chuck Jones (the creator of Bugs Bunny) once said “Insecurity is the handmaiden of creativity.” He was absolutely right, but those who succeed in the creative arts learn not to succumb to the insecurities and the sensitivities that accompany the process of creating original work. Sensitivity is a conscious choice. You can choose to bruise at every remark about your work or you can cowboy up and remember it takes more guts to create than it does to criticize. If the ideas are truly great they will find their time for implementation. Nurture your creative scar tissue. It will make the next round of criticism all the easier to take.
3. Know when to walk away
Sometimes all we need is a little break from the work to see all of the possibilities. This is not resignation, it’s rejuvenation. If you’ve spent more than a couple of hours staring at your drawing table or your computer screen – force yourself to get up and walk away. Step outside, close your eyes and breathe deeply. If you can take a cat nap, do it. You’ll be amazed at the way your subconscious will continue to hammer away at your challenge while you rest. As the great composer Frans Liszt once said “My greatest challenge is not where to put the notes, but where to put the rests”
4. Make fun
Fun is to creativity what endorphins are to distance runners. If you need a burst of creative energy, make some fun. This can include playing with your creative challenges in ways that your clients never imagined. When I get stuck for ideas, I like to play a game called “World’s Worst.” It involves taking the opposite approach to a project…seeking the absolute worst, and often funniest, solution to the problem. If my challenge is to come up with a theme for a client’s Annual Fund Raising Ball- I’ll generate a list of themes that would be a hoot to see implemented, but are sure to be rejected by the client, These might include themes like: The Zombie Ball – Fresh Flowers and Rotting Flesh, The Pants Optional Ball, or the Marsupial Ball where every evening gown is endowed with a central pocket large enough to hold a live toddler. By embracing the absurd, and releasing some of our venom toward the creative challenge, amazing possibilities arise. Even if it does not lead to the next great idea, it has the power to change your mood and your thought process. And let’s face it, when you are stuck for ideas, change is good.
5. Phone a friend
I find creative work most challenging when it’s solo work. As much as we all want to prove that we can generate pure brilliance by ourselves. Many times the best solution is to enlist the help of a friend who has a different perspective than you have. Diversity and creativity are soul mates. Pick up the phone. Walk across the sea of cubicles. Reach out and touch someone who can bring a fresh perspective to your challenge. If variety is the spice of life, bringing a friend into the process could make your next project very spicy.
6. Creative Swiping
Picasso is famous for saying “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” If you need a creative boost, try boosting some ideas from people whose work you admire. Of course I’m not suggesting that you steal someone’s original work and slap your name on it. I’m suggesting that you use some of the underlying tools, techniques and ideas that make their work shine. It may be a particular color combination or a unique perspective. Try on someone else’s brilliance. Then use it in an original way to make it your own.
7. Give your talents away
Yes, I just suggested that you give your talents away for free. I’ve seen great creative careers built on this concept. Find a worthy cause – one that speaks to your heart. Give them the full benefit of your talents for free. The payback on this one is enormous. As a general rule, there is more creative freedom with pro-bono clients. You will be doing something good for the world, so it will feel really good and it will shift the Cosmic Karma favorably in your direction. If you really believe in the cause, you will produce inspired work; work that will garner you goodwill and exposure as both a creative genius and a generous benefactor.
8. Immerse yourself
The creative mind is like a mental butterfly net scooping up all of the cool ideas and bits of useful information that flutter by. If you want to improve your chances of generating great ideas, immerse yourself in idea-rich environments. I love libraries, museums, public parks, college dining halls, classrooms, sand boxes, pubs and art shows. These are all places that will fill up your mental net with a diverse range of ideas and new ways of thinking. When you bring this fluttering collage of concepts back to your real world projects, it will have the power to give your creative work fresh wings.
I hope that these eight ideas help you to find your next big idea.
Until next time…stay inspired
Bob Kodzis is a lot of things to a lot of people…
He is an awesome husband and wonderful father – two of his favorite roles in the world. He is an entrepreneur whose company, Flight of Ideas, serves hundreds of organizations; cool companies like Kennedy Space Center and The Federal Reserve Bank and great causes like the American Cancer Society and the Arthritis Foundation. He is one of the best creative meeting facilitators you will ever meet. He runs meetings with great focus, creativity, energy and humor and knows how to manage group dynamics with grace and charm, while keeping group momentum and morale high.
Bob is a professional improviser and a regular performer at SAK Comedy Lab – hosting and performing in improv shows on a weekly basis. He is also a powerful keynote speaker who inspires and entertains thousands of people every year.
Bob is an award winning visual artist and street painter who draws huge works of art on the sidewalk. He is also a philanthropist who doesn’t always have money to give, but he gives what he has to dozens of organizations and individuals in need every year.
Bob also writes. But you probably already know that if you’ve gotten to this point the article. He also loves to write about himself in third person. Bob can be reached at email@example.com or visit his cool website http://www.flightofideas.net/
Other Blog Posts by Bob Kodzis: The Passion Principle