Note to readers: Soch to Success is a weekly column to enhance critical thinking skills for you to achieve success. Each article is packed with insights, tools, and a roadmap to action.
Eighteen minutes. That is all that you get to put your story across. Your life story maybe 30 years long or 50, you only have 18 minutes to present your story to a room full of people seated in ambient darkness anticipating to get enlightened through your TED talk.
So when you have 18 minutes, you don’t tell them what you did when you were five or when you were 15, you tell them one slice of that life. Actually, it is not even a slice, it is a sliver of the slice. “In fact, some of our greatest TED Talks have been as short as 5 minutes long!” says TED Talks website.
If you were to talk on a TED platform, what would you present? I asked this question to a group of friends last week. An accomplished circle, their bags full of stories but when it comes to sharing one, most had a common answer: “not my cup of tea, I am not so creative.” The buck stops there. Not creative enough.
This December, as you await new beginnings, make a promise to yourself— a promise to nurture your creative confidence. This December, as we spread light around us, let us rekindle the light of creativity within.
Creativity is a mindset, not just how we draw or paint or have an eye for art direction. It is how we think and create new ideas, and how we find solutions to challenges are also results of creative thinking.
What stops us from being creative is not how we have skilled ourselves but it is how we speak about ourselves. Our language becomes a roadblock in our creative thinking. When we say “not creative enough”, we close all the windows and doors of our mind.
Creativity, like playing, is equally available to all as children. You play more and more and maybe you will grow up to be an athlete. You paint more and more and maybe you end up being an artist.
Everybody is born with a creative and playful mind. Creativity is not just about painting or being an artist, it is about thinking. Creative thinking gives birth to ideas and ideas are necessary not only for business but also important for day-to-day living.
While a TED talk is a decent benchmark to think about your creative story, ironically, the most-watched TED talk is about how creativity gets killed by education.
Researchers have defined the construct of creativity as the ability to innovate and move beyond what is already known. This involves the ability to consider things from an uncommon perspective, transcend the old order and explore associated ideas. Creativity can also be defined as the ability to generate a solution to ill-defined problems.
The creative tag is not only useful at workplaces but is also needed in everyday life, for hosting a party or raising funds for your charity. The creative tag is not to show it to anybody, it is to nurture our confidence.
The ability to build and hone a creative mindset is not a standalone skill but is the ability to apply several inputs to the way we think and act. Like the ability to be a good leader, who is a great collaborator and an empathetic listener, is actually an act of sharpening the creative skills.
In today’s Habits for Thinking note, we focus on nurturing our creative confidence. To believe and nurture a creative mindset, it is important to build abilities around certain areas mentioned here:
1 The ability to keep a beginners mindset
“Design thinking uses creative activities to foster collaboration and solve problems in human-centered ways. We adopt a ‘beginner’s mind’, with the intent to remain open and curious, to assume nothing, and to see ambiguity as an opportunity,” says IDEO founder David Kelley. He emphasises that “creative confidence is the belief that everyone is creative, and that creativity isn’t the ability to draw or compose or sculpt, but a way of understanding the world”.
The ability to take yourself on the path of nurturing your creative confidence is the first step. To nurture creative confidence one has to believe that we are all born playful and creative and over the years our creativity has been underutilised and now we need to make an effort to hone our creative mindsets.
2 The ability to collaborate
Creativity fosters in an environment. It can flow more easily when you have people to bounce off ideas with. One can collaborate to just hear ideas too. A collaboration can begin by just being a fly on the wall in a room of creative people.
3 The ability to empower
In a room full of people of different age groups and experiences, a good idea can come from anywhere, only if the team is empowered to share ideas fearlessly. The ability to empower others is the ability to listen to others. The ability to listen seeds your creative thoughts.
4 The ability to get rejected
A new project needed a name. The team was asked. Out of 12-14 people on the group chat, only two suggested a few names. The fear of your idea getting rejected is a bottleneck in creative thinking. The ability to get rejected is actually a skill. There is no ego here. One must learn that an idea getting rejected doesn’t necessarily mean that the personality is getting rejected, but it is the line of thought.
But failure is a big word. Before the failure, at a granular level, comes the acceptance of being judged and being rejected. In a creative process, one starts from a large pool of ideas. Sometimes a rejected idea strengthens the idea that finally gets accepted. That is also important.
5 The ability to ask questions and reframe problems
Sometimes simply asking a “why” allows us to look into the details of the matter. Sometimes reframing a problem and asking it from a different perspective gets us to find a solution. Creative confidence sharpens with the ability to ask questions. Here is more on how to ask the right questions.
6 The ability to work in ambiguous situations
Not every solution that you come up with shows a clear path and that is an ability that a creative mindset is willing to work with. To tolerate ambiguity is an ability needed to nurture and build creative confidence.
Keep a beginner’s mindset, collaborate, empower, handle rejections, ask the right questions, learn to navigate ambiguity are all work processes that sharpen a creative mindset.
Here is an excerpt from the book, Creative Confidence by Tom Kelly and David Kelley about Steve Jobs:
Steve Jobs had a deep sense of creative confidence. He believed that you can achieve audacious goals if you have the courage and perseverance to pursue them. He was famous for his exhortation to “make a dent in the universe,” which he expressed this way in a 1994 interview:
“The minute that you understand that you can poke life and actually something will… pop out the other side, that you can change it, you can mold it, that may be the most important thing… once you learn that, you will never be the same again.
He urged, “think differently.”
There is truly magic in nurturing our own creative confidence. (Vishakha Singh, author of a forward-thinking course SHIFT, is a business strategist & a design thinking practitioner. She writes at www.habitsforthinking.in, offering insights into the ever-changing business environment.)