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Ingredients of Creativity

The secrets of creative success are simple, they just aren’t very easy.

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1. Space

The first ingredient of creativity is space. Ideas need room to develop. The space we carve out for creativity needs to be an oasis where we separate ourselves from distraction. The Wright brothers’ breakthroughs didn’t happen at a desk in a cubicle in an office building. Their laboratory was a sandy beach miles away from civilization. They left their business and escaped to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The residents of Kitty Hawk were poor, but self-reliant people who lived well outside the mainstream. Here, away from public scrutiny, the Wright’s had plenty of room to refine their theories.

2. Time

The second ingredient of creativity is time. Time needs to be carved out in three installments. The first installment is designating a specific time where you will dedicate yourself completely to your work. It needs a specific starting time and a specific ending time. You need to be sure that in this time you will be absolutely uninterrupted. No phone calls, no email, no random pings from friend’s status updates. You need assurance that you won’t have any excuses to avoid the work you have committed to doing.

3. Trust

The third ingredient of creativity is trust. Fear of making a mistake is the biggest killer of creativity. How can you do something that has never been done without sounding silly when you first describe it? You need to have the confidence to be able to explore any idea, no matter how crazy, because that is where the creative solutions will come from. You need to be open to all possibilities without fear of judgement.

4. Play

The final ingredient of creativity is play. In order to loosen our assumptions we need to experiment with deliberately crazy connections. Years ago I worked with a friend named Travis. He has the rare ability to transform absurd, humorous ideas into real things. You can be laughing with him one moment and then, before you know it, you are creating something fun and unusual. Our workspace felt like a mad scientist’s laboratory where we were free to produce whatever crazy idea crossed our minds. We perfected the art of molding gummy bears into other shapes. We built an oversized putting course. We wrote a song to accompany our daily pudding breaks. We invented complex games involving cowboy boots, Nerf guns, spare change, and tacos. As you might expect, client tours typically bypassed the creative department. At the time I didn’t realize how rare and special this playful environment was.

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If you liked this, here are a few of my other popular posts:
1. When Unicorns and Robots Hold Hands
2. The Horrific Symphony
3. In the future everyone will be creative for fifteen minutes

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Author of User Zero: Inside the Tool that is Reshaping Dystopia

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