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How Challenges Can Spark Creativity

Updated: Sep 23, 2022

As I set up my home office to facilitate a training session this morning, I couldn’t help thinking how much life has changed since the start of the year.

Six months ago I wouldn’t have believed that it would be normal to stand 2 metres apart in public, to wear a face mask or to greet colleagues and friends with an elbow bump or wave rather than a handshake or hug.

Like many small businesses, the pandemic has brought significant change for me.

Face-to-face coaching sessions, talks and meetings all went online.

Interestingly the pandemic also got me thinking more creatively. Not in an arty way, but in terms of seeing things differently and from a new perspective.

I wanted to do something to help people cope with the unprecedented challenges they were facing, so, working with fellow experts I created a series of videos focused on building your resilience.

The idea for a virtual retreat followed as a way to help manage the physical and emotional toll, step out of their usual routine, take stock, develop their resilience and make plans – when a face-to-face retreat wasn’t a viable option.

I have also been able to deliver experiential training to people all over the world, without leaving my home office. South Africa, India, Australia and China are a few of the countries that I have touched in the last 3 months.

What changes has coronavirus brought for you? Has it helped you to be more creative in your thinking and approach?

Challenges and problems can often be the starting point for creativity. Have you thought about creativity in this way before?

Whether you see yourself as creative or not, I have a challenge for you...

Starting on Monday 10th August, for each weekday I have a small action for you to try with the aim of sparking your creativity. (I’ve given you the weekends off.) You can even download and print our creativity calendar or bookmark it to remind you.

  1. Put away your digital devices, even for an hour. Instead of filling your head with more information, give your mind a rest and allow your ideas to flow from the inside out.

  2. Be inspired by Nature. Whether that’s the plant on your desk, you go out to the local park, or you just notice how the moss or ivy emerges from the brick walls that you pass. Observe nature around you, it’s a great source of inspiration.

  3. Change your Routine. Try taking a different route or mode of transport to work, or maybe wake up 30 minutes earlier. Or take up a new hobby or class.

  4. Try Mind Mapping. Instead of creating your usual bullet-pointed list, try mind mapping. You may even want to invest in coloured pens or pencils to draw them with.

  5. Journal. Journaling is a great way to get in touch with your thoughts and feelings and unleash that creativity within you. Fill your day with creative bursts.

  6. Take a Shower. Ideas pop into your head when you are least expecting them and not trying too hard. Keep a waterproof pen and paper close by to capture the ideas you have while you are in the shower before you lose them.

  7. Get Outside. Physical movement and fresh air don’t just help the body, they free the mind too.

  8. Sleep on it. Go to sleep on a problem and your subconscious will work to come up with an answer while you are sleeping. Make sure you have a pen and paper beside your bed, as these answers can be fleeting, and you don’t want to forget your eureka moment.

  9. Work through the Artists Way Workbook, originally designed to help artists overcome creative blocks. It’s used by people all over the world to tap into their creativity and is one of my favourites.

  10. Be Playful. Go to a park and have five minutes on the swings or the slide, go to a skatepark, or rollerblade. Have some fun.

  11. Clear your Workspace. Clutter around you can block the creative process.

  12. 5-minute Art. Draw or doodle for 5 minutes. This way, you use the right side of your brain and doodling has been found to help you stay present and engaged.

  13. Find a Creative Space. Are there some places that shift your thinking? It’s art galleries for me! Go to your place and see how it helps your thinking.

  14. Ask Why? Children are great at asking why, instead of trying to be the expert and thinking they know it all. Spend a day asking why. Question everything and see what unfolds.

  15. Watch TEDTalks on Creativity – they are inspiring.

  16. Brainstorm with Others. Sometimes you just need other perspectives, remember not to judge ideas to allow the creativity to work.

  17. Allow your Pain to Inspire your Creativity. What’s bothering you or someone you know about at the moment? How could you come up with a creative solution to help?

  18. Research what Solutions already exist. They say that there isn’t such a thing as an original idea, you may find something that you can tweak for your situation.

  19. Toys. Keep toys on your desk to stimulate you. Stress toys are good as they keep your hands busy which leaves your mind free to wander.

  20. Daydream. Allow yourself the luxury of being bored and use the time to daydream, who knows what you’ll come up with!

  21. Ask a Child. Children have a unique perspective and are naturally out-of-the-box thinkers because their box hasn’t been formed yet.

  22. Generate More Ideas than you need. If you think that you need 10 ideas, go for 20. It’s likely to be the very last one that hits the spot.

  23. Listen to Happy Music. Studies suggest that listening to happy music promotes more divergent thinking—a key element of creativity.

Let me know how you get on.

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