Be ambitious: set your sights at the right level 5
10 proven tips on creative thinking
There are countless books on creative thinking. Most promote a particular
technique, yet in reality creative thinking is very simple. We find it difficult
because we think it’s difficult. It is true to say that if you are left handed
and therefore right brained, creativity will come to you more naturally. But
much more important is a willingness to let go and let your brain run free.
Here are ten very simple tips to help you think more creatively.
1 Close your eyes – it’s harder to see what might be when surrounded by what already
exists. Closing your eyes encourages the brain to think more abstractly – to see what
might be.
2 Stretch extend your line of thinking beyond the obvious. For example, if it rained
all day every day, how would we stay dry? Keep going and you might invent a better
3 The ridiculous today’s ridiculous is tomorrow’s innovation. Twenty years ago, cam-
eras on phones would have been laughed at. Look for parallels in a business sector
you know.
4 Mind mapsTony Buzan has helped countless people become more creative by
introducing them to mind mapping. It’s a lateral rather than linear way to make
notes. Try it.
5 Context you’ll often find that what works in one place can be adapted to work
elsewhere. Look for your answers in less than obvious places. For example, road
workers wear high visibility jackets for safety reasons. Could high visibility clothing
become popular in night clubs, where it’s dark and difficult to find your friend?
6 Sleep on it it is true that if you ponder on a problem late at night, your subcon-
scious mind will often work out some solutions while you sleep.
7 Two headscreative thinking in a group can sometimes get you answers faster. Use
a whiteboard, flipchart or just large sheets of paper to write down what you each
think. Other people’s ideas will accelerate your own creative thinking.
8 Return don’t try to complete the process in one go. Sometimes it’s good to put
your emerging idea to one side and pick it up again later. You’ll see things afresh
that way.
6 brilliant checklists for entrepreneurs
9 Exercise do your creative thinking on the move. Even a brisk walk increases your
heart rate and the blood flow to your brain. Exercise can fuel creativity.
10 Chocolatewe all need the excuse to indulge ourselves so why not make your crea-
tive thinking sessions special by allowing yourself some treats?
Creativity is really little more than thinking beyond the obvious or pre-
senting familiar things in new ways. In enterprise, creativity is important
because you constantly have new barriers to overcome. Competitors, cus-
tomers and your own curiosity will prompt you to think creatively about
what you do.
Everything is new when you see it for the first time
We can usually remember vividly our first day at school. It’s a big change
and, for many, rather frightening. Yet every year children start school for
the first time. The teachers have seen it all before, but for their students
it’s a completely new experience.
When you’re thinking creatively, remember that what you offer people
doesn’t have to be totally new. It only has to be new to them.
Toby Buckle, Hazelbranch Coaching and Training
Toby runs his own business coaching practice and so helps others with their
creativity. However, even the experts sometimes need help to step back and view
their enterprise objectively. Taking time off when his daughter was born helped
him realise how he’d dropped into the comfort of following what he called his
business ‘auto-pilot’, simply doing what he’d always done. He said it was like
driving without satnav, where you had to read road signs and think about where
you were going.
Too many of us simply follow the voice on the dashboard and forget to use our
instincts and intuition. Make regular time for creative thinking and never simply
do what others suggest unless you’re really sure.

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