I often get people saying how lucky I am that I’m creative, but I honestly believe everyone is creative at heart. It just shows up differently for different people. And I think we should all be cultivating our creativity in one form or another, in our lives and in our businesses/careers. So this week’s blog is a guest post from the lovely Laura Oldfield of The Key To It All and it’s all about the Creative Process. I hope you enjoy it!
Five reasons why cultivating creativity should be a top priority in your small business and life
Perhaps you’ve seen this (or a version of it) before. Certainly if you’ve ever embarked upon any kind of creative project or work you’ve almost certainly experienced this process.
Or perhaps you’re considering clicking away from here, as you’re thinking “creative?! That’s not me, and anyway why is it relevant to my business and life?” As the fantastic Edward de Bono says:
“the brain is a wonderful device for allowing incoming information to organise itself into patterns. Once these patterns are formed…we use those patterns in the process known as perception. The patterns are not symmetric. The lack of symmetry gives rise both to humour and to creativity. This then is the logical need for creativity. It is the logic of self-organising patterning systems.”
Essentially, creativity is not just a wonderfully joyful experience, but rather a way of allowing our brains to organise information, in a way that leads to powerful and transformative decisions. Here’s five reasons you should cultivate it (and some ideas as to how to do so):
1. Creativity stops us pre-judging
By all means, look at the data. There is so much available to us and you would be foolish to ignore it (I recommend Google Analytics for your website as a top prioirity. Instagram Business Accounts have fantastic data you can use (but you could just as easily explore Facebook or Tiktok – we also love our Pinterest account for helping us learn more customers) www.pinterest.co.uk/thekey_toitall, and don’t forget your all important email newsletter sign-ups! Of course this data can teach you so much about the people who you serve. But it shouldn’t ever be the sole place from which you make decisions. The extraordinary thing about your business and work is you and your ideas. The data might sometimes suggest that a new idea of yours is not going to work, but let’s not forget that creativity encourages logical thought ultimately. Creativity allows us to take informed risks, that data alone would not.
2. Creativity allows us to create new ideas from old experiences
We do this by a) revisiting old systems and disrupting them; b) revisiting old ideas and adapting them and c; revisiting old beliefs and examining them. An example of this might be imagining how you might have handled a situation differently, or how another person might handle the same situation. It might be brainstorming how you want your customer to feel when your product lands in their lap, and writing a description of the process from them finding you, to making an order to receiving their purchase. These kind of imaginings can ultimately lead to some very strategic and ordered planning and processes.
3. From Creativity comes the “Creative Challenge”
The creative challenge is one of the most exciting parts of creative thinking, in both work and at home: it encourage us to ask why do we do it this way?
That question can be so powerful: why am I selling this way? Why am I on this social media? Why do I launch at particular times. It can also be used in the home. Why am I buying this? Why do I have this reaction as a parent? Why do I keep going to bed late? Thinking laterally in this way is often prompted by some responses:
Because we always have
Because it’s what other people do and it works
Because it worked for us before
Because other people like it
The creative challenge doesn’t seek to dismiss everything we have done thus far; rather it is an opportunity for lateral thinking, reflection and growth.
4. From the Creative Pause comes mindfulness
You write your to-list. You start frantically firing off emails. You end up in a Facebook thread replying about the best kinds of email marketing hosts. The Creative Pause forces us to stop and ask two things: 1) why am I doing this and; 2) are there other possibilities right now that would make this easier/ more efficient/ more joyful. Some practical methods for achieving the Creative Pause come from a) using affirmation cards; b) using a timer (google the Pomodoro Technique for more on this); stopping and naming 5 things that are a particular colour, 4 things yu can hear, 3 things you can smell etc.
It’s worth noting that the creative pause can be a massively extended moment of frustration – a feeling of stasis in your work, until one day it all “clicks”, and you realise your brain has been working hard to find creative solutions all along.
5. Creativity reminds you that you are a human who needs and deserves to be being, not just doing (and reacting).
Creativity can be found in so many ways – when you go for your morning walk and the nature inspires an idea in you; when you’re running through a process and you come up with a third step that will make all the difference; when you’re having to be resourceful and in doing so come up with an inventive and materials/ money-free solution. Switching off from “work” to carry out more traditionally “creative” activities (colouring, music, making things with your hands etc) can also be when you get the “aha” moment!
Finally, here’s 10 quick-fire ways to encourage creativity (and one myth buster).
MYTH BUSTED: Creativity isn’t just for the “talented” …or the “rebels”… or the “left/right” side of the brain. Creativity and art aren’t the same. You don’t need to “release” to be creative. It’s not all about “intuition”…or being “quirky” …or taking a scatter-gun approach.
- Get rid of the drainers and attract the radiators (this can be applied to habits – your phone and doom-scrolling versus reading some amazing blogs or listening to a TED talk and to the people with whom you spend time).
- Hide your phone. No, seriously. Hide it.
- Free writing – google Morning Pages and thank us later.
- Buy The Key Cards and Affirmations for Creatives (the latter on pre-order soon). The former is 90 energy-enhancing, inspirational prompts, tasks and affirmations so you never have to have that “where do I start” feeling again. Enjoy having your very own coach, mentor and cheerleader in your pocket. There are 20 cards in there specifically and solely designed to boost creativity (though having used all 90 they definitely all do that!)
- Do something different and write a haiku (5,7,5 syllables).
- Work with your energy not against it (The Key Cards massively support this) – if you’re feeling stuck and like it’s just not working then that’s ok – break up the routine and do something entirely different (and ideally not related to work – rest often triggers amazing subsequent levels of productivity).
- Chuck in some scary deadlines – and see how your brain reacts – I bet you get inventive!
- Collaborate collaborate collaborate – we are obsessive about this at The Key to it All – bouncing ideas around is simply the best way to develop (and it proves that nearly always community wins over competition).
- Allow yourself to fail – yes in trying new things you’ll create a lot of stuff and nonsense. You’ll also create gems, even if they don’t appear to be at first.
- Keep going. Yes we value rest at Team Key. But we also value you valuing yourself and showing up. Keep going – we’re rooting for you!
At The Key to it All we help incredible small business owners, creatives and freelancers plan and run their work and life in a more productive, easy and confident way, using our beautiful products for work and the home, E-Courses, community, events and workshops It is founded and run by proud multi-hyphenate and Mum of two, Laura Oldfield.
You can find The Key to it All here: