A friend of mine was telling me about the novel way in which he had made use of my web site. He is an exceptionally talented furniture designer embarking on a new project to open the first modern concept furniture store in Nelson BC. A few days ago, while simultaneously perusing my site and deliberating on his own mission manifesto he started to break down and re assemble quotes and passages from my site that he was drawn to. The dissecting, re-connecting, random pairing, and concept reversing that he did produced an incredible number of new and inspiring brand and business concepts for the store. What fascinated me, however, was his natural propensity to think creatively. It was suddenly very apparent to me why he is so skilled at what he does: for him creative thinking is a natural process.

For many of us though that isn’t the case. At least not if we have grown up in the restricted arteries of public education where, by the time we reach adolescence, our ability to think divergently has been all but erased from our skill set. The good news is we can relearn what once came naturally to us. And it’s well worth the effort. Our families, our workplaces, our communities, our very world is in great need of fresh creative thinking and there are plenty of ways in which we can spark new pathways on our linear express. I believe the best starting point is to re-frame how we think about and define creativity and to consider for ourselves how we think about our own creativity, in particular where and when and how it best flourishes.

“Creativity is not a single aspect of intelligence that only emerges in particular activities, in the arts for example. It is a systemic function of intelligence that can emerge whenever our intelligence is engaged…It arises out of our interactions with ideas and achievements of other people, It is a cultural process” Sir Ken Robinson

Another way to build creative capacity is to apply thinking techniques such as my friend did on a continual basis. Try this: Think about your challenge or issue. Capture it in a statement. Next play a piece of your favorite music, crack a book, create a list of random words and ask yourself in what way is my problem like a car, a flower, a question mark, honey, travel; or wander through an interesting website. In each case, allow yourself to make random associations between what you think, see, experience and your challenge. Capture ideas, images, words. The key is to allow the natural unfolding of thought without judgment. One thing creative geniuses know is that volume is key. The more you invite creative ideas into your mind the higher the chances are of landing on a winning and innovative solution.