I don’t know of anyone who is bothered when being called creative. It’s rather the opposite. In fact, this word can result in snobbery, because being creative distinguishes you from other people, somehow, it makes you special.
Being it a collective desire, many people believe creativity to be out of their reach. They know that it is a precious quality that helps to improve professional positioning and that it often contributes to the successful development of projects. But also, they know that it is slippery terrain and, many times, inaccessible.
I believe that this paradigm of scarcity that surrounds creativity has its origin in a wrong starting point: we look for inspiration outside, when the source of creativity is inside us.
Automatically, our creative process tends to focus on storing information from the past, from which we extract things we have learned that serve as a starting point to project scenarios and future proposals. This way, we generate corseted mental models that act by building on what is already known, in a sort of a loop, leaving little room for the incorporation of original concepts.
By reading the Theory U by Otto Scharmer in-depth, three fundamental aspects that can help us to connect with that innate creativity can be perceived.
1. Change our gaze. We need to learn to observe with an open mind. For this, we must pay attention and suspend the automaticity of judgement. We also need to do it with an open heart, that is, empathising with the reality we observe as if we were seeing it from the angle of other people.
When we change our way of observing, we are taking details and possibilities that previously went unnoticed into account. A very simple illustrative experiment is to cover your ears when you are in a bustle and observe how people behave. Suddenly, we sense aspects that we don’t usually notice with our usual gaze.
2. Once the information is collected, it is an essential requirement to withdraw and reflect with an open will in order to let go of what is old and known, while at the same time being ready to accept the new, what is to come.
It is convenient to calm the mind, leave it with the least possible activity so that it can begin to process the information received. The calmer you are, the more likely you won’t use automatic patterns, the ones that save you time and energy.
Somehow, what we are interested in is that our conscious mind is relaxed enough so that the information collected after the observation descends into the unconscious without having been mutilated or excessively interpreted.
As an example, a similar process to the one described is experienced when we go to sleep thinking about a problem that we have to solve. Frequently, we wake up the next day with theUnc revealed answer.
3. Get into action. And now it’s time to jump the last barrier in order for the creative act to culminate. It is about taking a piece of the information that has been revealed to us and beginning to shape it by going beyond synthesising it with words. It is necessary to take action, take our idea and work it physically, It’s kind of like we’re kneading it to life before our eyes.
This way of emerging an idea is called prototyping. It consists of using different materials to express our idea in three dimensions. It doesn’t matter if it is a product, a service or a concept. The process is the same: expand the proposal from paper, turning it into a three-dimensional representation.
This step is essential, as it gives the idea of a halo of reality.
In addition to these three key aspects of the creative process, it is worth mentioning another fundamental aspect of creativity: it is not a single act but, rather, a form of presence. Therefore, it is not so much something that happens in isolation, but rather something that happens regularly, if we allow it.
This way, when we train ourselves to change our gaze, we simply stop downloading information and simply store it to place ourselves in a permanent creative state. We begin to see and perceive in a different way, opening ourselves to possibilities that we could not have even imagined before.
It is also relevant to bear in mind that creativity is not an individual phenomenon, but rather that it requires the complicity of other people to fully develop.
Incorporating distant visions in ourselves goes a long way towards enriching the process. It is especially important at the time of prototyping. Being able to co-perform the prototyping process, integrating the observations of other people makes the result extraordinarily rich.
Finally, we cannot finish without mentioning the fundamental ingredient of creativity: the intention or purpose of our gaze.
For creativity to be something significant, it is necessary to focus on observation or solving a problem or covering a need that, in some way, contributes to generating a benefit for people, beyond it being economic or material.
Landing this concept to the field of telecommuting -so much in vogue lately-, the creative gaze shouldn’t be limited to only the “need to improve the telecommuting experience”, but to go further and focus on, for example, reducing the level of stress suffered by people who combine remote work with underage children in the care.
When we manage to turn towards a different and sincere look, looking with the eyes of the soul, creativity ceases to be a superficial search, becoming an activity capable of providing profound solutions that really add value and transform. And that is the power of all human beings.