Habits that Help us to Live a Life of CREATIVITY

Photo Credit: J. Ng  May, 2015 Conceptual Art. Lenbachhaus Museum, Munich, Germany.

Photo Credit: J. Ng May, 2015 Conceptual Art. Lenbachhaus Museum, Munich, Germany.

I just love this less than two minutes TED TALK: Five Tips for Living a More Creative Life .

Presented by five different speakers, It gives five tips that help us to tap into our creativity.

Here is my summary, adding my two-cents worth.

#1. Give it a go even if you are unsure.

We can learn from watching kids.

  • They take risk. Even if they don’t know, they still give it a go.
  • They are not afraid to be wrong. To come up with anything original, making mistakes is a given.

Often in brainstorming sessions, I have to breakdown the thick wall of “CAN’T DO” before the free flowing streams of thoughts can come gushing out. The “CAN’T DO” voices often sound quite down to earth: “This is against our policy, we shouldn’t go down that path.”, or “If it is so simple, I bet you that someone else must have done it. So why bother”, “It is impossible. How could this be done?” The echoes thicken the wall.

I often responded by asking the team to imagine that we were the very first team ever tasked to design the very first vehicle to go to the moon. I am sure back in those days, all these were very logical mindset. But had those mindsets stayed, we would never have built the space shuttle ever, because back then, this was an outrageous idea!

My work in Tasking as Users Accessible Control is still on its unfinished journey.

#2. Surround yourself with people who are different from you. 

  • They will challenge our assumptions and make us grow as a person.

In my line of work as a technologist, I like to meet customers who come from all walks of life: retailer, healthcare workers, banking personnels etc.. I try to find problem patterns that are common across the board. Those problem patterns often become the fertile soil to birth invention.

I also love to work with researchers and practitioners from different disciplines. User designers, psychologists, business executives, just to name a few. Amalgamating their perspectives take the innovation that I am baking with more all-rounded maturity, thus enhancing the chance of adoption.

#3. Let go of our expectations

  • Let go of outcome
  • Let go of past failures
  • Let go of imperfection

This is a big awakening. Inability to let go of outcome leads to stress. Inability to let go of past failures leads to fear of failure with the present. Inability to let go of imperfection leads to creative ideas that will never see the light of day. I’ve been there and done that.

Let go to flow!

#4. Borrow from Artist we love

  • Re-mixing components from old to create new

In my patenting journey, it does not take long to come to the realization that there is nothing new under the sun. A lot of the patents that I have reviewed as a patent reviewer, and those of my own, are actually taking existing parts, re-mix them, sometimes adding some new elements, and apply it in areas that no one has thought of before.

Take 3M’s Post-it for example. Paper is not new. Glue is not new. Yet 3M owns two patents with its Post-it product.

#5. Keep showing up

  • Don’t be afraid
  • Just do the job, keep showing up with my piece in it

It does not take very long for anyone working in anything creative to learn that acquiring a big capacity to move beyond rejection is a must. Whether you are a writer, or inventor of patents, or musicians, or illustrators, we have to face countless “NO”, “Please try again.”, “Thank you for your submission, but…” before we will run into one “Yes”, or “That is such a great idea”, or “Wow..how come no one thought of that before”.

We have to master the skill of harvesting lessons learned from these rejections, and filtering out untrue or disrespectful or any negative feedback and not let them get inside to harm the well being of our soul. Then take a walk, have a beer or a few more coffee, move right on to the next big thing.

To be honest, the sense of being wounded, the belief that “I may Not be Good Enough”, the feeling of being inadequate, the doubt were as real as being punched in the stomach. Over time, we all learn to be more comfortable in our own skin, have more courage to embrace our identity and destiny, and realize this is just the doors that we need to get through as a part of being creative.

Also when I heard stories of my peers who had similar experience of rejections, and finally came through, I regain hope and confidence to keep showing up, to keep trying.


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