Do you recall a famous advertising campaign for Apple that featured some of the world’s most creative and influential people? Among these were Pablo Picasso, Richard Branson, Thomas Edison, Amelia Earhart, Maria Callas, John Lennon, and many more.
Apple’s TV commercial praised the efforts of these icons. They are the ones who see things differently, it said. You can’t ignore them, because they change things: they are the movers and shakers. However, they’re not fond of rules. In the words of Steve Jobs, “The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” How did all of these people achieve so much? What are the habits of creative people?
In his book Human Motivation, Robert E. Franken writes that creativity is the tendency to generate ideas, alternatives, or possibilities. These practices solve problems and help us communicate in unique ways. That’s not all. Creativity means seeing things in new ways and from different perspectives. It’s the habits of the creative mind that make this possible.
Top 10 Habits of Creative Geniuses
For management guru Edward de Bono, creativity involved breaking away from established patterns. Here are ten practices that will inspire you to do this and become even more creative.
1. Observe everything
Creative minds don’t just stay in their cubicles and corners. They’re open to new experiences and look at everything with fresh eyes. Although they may specialize in one discipline, they are curious about everything else as well. Because of this habit of constant observation, they can come up with new ideas and find connections. Nothing is too big or too small to be observed. The observations are mentally filed away and used at the right time.
Creative people often know more about the world than others because of their habit of observation. For example, at a supermarket, everyone else may be observing the things on display and sale, but the creative person may observe the actions of other shoppers. Remember the words of American author Henry James: “Try to be one on whom nothing is lost.” That can enrich the way you think. This is one of the most significant habits of highly creative minds.
2. Be resilient
Many creative people have faced a number of setbacks. Their ideas may not have been understood, they may have been ahead of their time, or they may have been in the wrong place. Yet, they have persevered. Resilience is one of the ten habits of creative geniuses that sets them apart. It’s the never-say-die attitude that keeps them going when the others have given up.
Resilience does not mean persisting when efforts are not bearing fruit. On the contrary, it means understanding feedback, tapping into real-world reactions, and learning from them. To move ahead, ideas can be tweaked, plans can be modified, and strategies can be rejigged.
Take the example of Do Won Chang. When he moved from Korea to the United States, he had to work as a janitor, petrol pump attendant, and shop assistant to support himself and his family. Then, he had the creative idea of starting a small and affordable fashion store. After many setbacks, this grew into the multinational retail giant Forever 21.
With resilience, creative people get up every morning in a positive and optimistic frame of mind. It makes them bounce back until the day of success.
3. Seek solitude
Creative people often learn from others and from observing the world around them. However, this does not mean they are constantly in public or in the middle of a crowd. Many creative people are happy to be on their own. This is a time for them to think deeply and come up with new ideas. It becomes easier to do this without noise and chatter.
For some, this means getting up early in the morning. For others, it means working alone late at night. The time of day doesn’t matter. What is important is the space to mentally process all that has been learned. It’s the opportunity to combine old and new information and generate fresh insights. In the words of the great German writer Goethe: “One can be instructed in society, but one is inspired only in solitude.”
4. Take naps
Many studies show that taking a brief nap during the day aids productivity. Napping has many benefits. These include a better mood, alertness, and better mental performance. According to the author Daniel H. Pink, those who nap are better than those who don’t, in terms of retaining information and solving complex problems. Napping has also been seen to boost short-term and associative memory.
It’s the same with rest breaks. These can take the form of a coffee break or a short walk. This is one of the ten habits of creative people that refreshes and invigorates the mind. It reduces mental strain and lets you dive back into work with greater energy. There are many examples of creative people who were inspired during a break or shortly after it. After all, Archimedes was in the bathtub when he shouted, “Eureka!” And the trailblazing chemist Dmitri Mendeleev, who created the table of elements, said that the pattern of the table came to him in a dream.
5. Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness is a habit of creative thinkers that is linked with the practices of rest breaks and solitude. It is a wonderful way for creative people to find balance. Practicing it for just a few minutes a day can have a great impact on your mental health. It can be done at any time, although most people prefer mornings.
Typically, basic mindfulness practices involve starting with a breathing pattern to improve concentration. After that, you are supposed to observe the thoughts that arise in the mind without reacting to them. This process creates stability as well as the ability to stay calm in stressful situations. In these conditions, creativity will blossom. For many creative people, the habit of mindfulness is an essential part of their day. It helps them lower stress and remain productive.
6. Develop a routine
Earlier, we mentioned that creative people work according to their own rhythm and not those of a crowd. This does not mean routines are unimportant. The trick is to find a routine that works for you. Some may feel more inspired in the morning or afternoon, and others, at night. Discovering the right routine and sticking to it is an essential habit of highly creative people.
Some people think being creative is a matter of sitting and waiting for inspiration. Truly creative people know that is not the case. These creative people establish routines and wait for the magic to happen while they start work. As they say, inspiration comes to the mind that is prepared.
7. Ask questions
One of the habits of creative thinkers is that they are always asking questions. To begin with, these questions enable them to get a better grasp of the issue than anyone else. The “what if” question, in particular, opens pathways. It often lets people come up with new ideas and better solutions.
What if people could publicly post the pictures they take on their mobile phones? The answer: Instagram. What if they could create private space travel for individuals? The answer: Elon Musk’s SpaceX. Such questions can also be grouped into categories. You can ask “What if?” when it comes to team goals, investments, health, and art, for example. Many innovators and entrepreneurs have kick-started their careers by asking the right questions.
8. Follow your heart
When the world zigs, creative people zag. This is because they march to their own beat. They don’t chase popular fads or go with the flow. One hallmark of truly creative people is that they have found things they are passionate about. Their ambition is to pursue this passion and see where it leads them.
A scientist working on a topic everyone else has forgotten about can find a solution that surprises the world. An engineer obsessed with a small detail can come up with a superior design. A software designer can ignore popular software programs and write code that is simpler and faster. Creative people find out what really excites them and follow it with utmost dedication.
9. Connect the dots
One definition of creativity is to find links between unfamiliar objects and experiences. As Steve Jobs said, “Creativity is just connecting things.” Creative people are good at this habit because of their many observations, insights, and experiences. They come together in their minds to form a unique synthesis.
Take the example of Henry Ford. He knew he needed an efficient assembly line to enable his dream of affordable cars. One day, he happened to visit a meatpacking plant in Chicago. There, he saw a conveyor belt with different workers handling different aspects of the work. This inspired him to create a moving assembly line for his own automotive plant. It significantly reduced the time he needed to put a car together. He connected the dots and was well on his way to fame and fortune.
10. Try imaginative play
It’s been said that many creative people are childlike in their enthusiasm, spontaneity, and energy. One of the activities of children is imaginative play. It occurs when children try on different roles, explore feelings, and make multiple decisions in a safe environment. For instance, they play cops-and-robbers, slay dragons, and pretend that a carpet can fly.
The grown-up version of this imaginative play can be categorized as a habit of the creative mind. Creative people mentally explore possibilities, alternative worlds, and innovative solutions in a spirit of playfulness. In this sort of play, there is no criticism or negativity. It’s simply a fun investigation to see which paths yield possibilities and which ones are dead-ends. Many innovations and discoveries have their starting point in imaginative play.
In our fast-changing world, creativity is more needed than ever before. It allows individuals and enterprises to see the big picture, find new solutions, and break out of a traditional mindset. Creative people often follow their passions to see what they can develop to the best of their abilities.
Creative people can open minds and foster innovation. They do this by following several productive habits every day. The habits of creative people are a guide for all of us who want to be more adaptable and productive.
- It may seem like creative people are automatically inspired. However, behind their inspiration and innovation are habits that boost their creativity.
- These habits are the seeds that grow into new ways of seeing things. They help view the world afresh and break out of rigid patterns.
- Among the many habits of the creative mind is the capacity for keen observation. Constant observation opens the mind to new possibilities. It is a great creativity booster.
- The habits that keep creative people mentally alert are the practice of mindfulness, seeking solitude, and taking naps and short breaks. All of these help process information behind the scenes and refresh the mind.
- Many creative people depend on routines for inspiration to strike. They choose the part of the day or night during which they are most productive and can do their best work.
- To come up with great ideas, creative people also ask many questions, practice imaginative play, and connect the dots. All these habits generate new perspectives.
Generally speaking, those who are highly creative possess the following traits:
– They take risks.
– They are not afraid of failure
– They feel no need to follow the crowd.
– They are open to trying new things.
Highly creative people show curiosity about the world. They ask questions to gather information and clarify concepts. They are interested in different aspects of life and work, and do not stick to one viewpoint. They are passionate about their interests and take pains to pursue them over time.
According to a test by Adobe, a few types of creative people are as follows:
– The Artist
– The Thinker
– The Adventurer
– The Maker
– The Producer
– The Dreamer
– The Innovator
– The Visionary
The five stages of the creative process are as follows:
1. Preparation, when information is gathered
2. Incubation, when thoughts are organized and connected
3. Illumination, when a unique solution is found
4. Evaluation, when the solution is checked against options and goals
5. Verification, when it is tested in the real world
The main barrier is having a rigid mindset. It means, the unwillingness to consider new ways of doing things. A rigid attitude can lead to traditional solutions and not creative ones.