Most interesting jobs require creativity these days but the understanding of what makes people creative, or how they can be more creative, is limited. Understanding which behaviours correlate with creativity, and maybe enhance it, is one way to think about improving ourselves on this dimension and improving our ability to recognise and enhance creativity in others (important for recruiters and managers).
After reading Secrets to long haul creativity, and musing on the topic myself I think there are three keys:
- Inspiration – Creative ideas nearly always come from the fusion of other people’s work. Creative people should therefore dedicate time to reading and otherwise soaking up ideas that form the basis of their own. As a venture investor, making the time to read is critical to long term success, and easy to overlook. My daily reading habit is tied to my daily blogging, and is one of the reasons I write every working day.
- Imagination – Once inspired the creative mind needs time and space to dream up new ideas. Meditation, long walks and leisurely reading are good ways to encourage the imagination. A lot of my best thinking comes when I meditate and when I read books (note books, not blogs).
- Focus – New ideas need to be polished, and it takes intense focus and attention to turn the rough product of the imagination into something the world can use and digest. Most great creatives (programmers, designers, authors, you name it) love getting their head down and entering a state of flow. Once in a state of flow they hate to be interrupted.
Note that none of these are easy. Creativity takes work, and the notion of the brilliant but lazy creative is, I think, a myth. That’s why passion is so closely linked to creativity. Without passion doing the reading to get inspired is a grind and it’s hard to find the energy required for intense focus.