Creativity doesn’t belong solely to the Steve Jobs of the world. Here’s how to boost your own creative energy with tips from The Charge: Activating the 10 Human Drives That Make You Feel Alive, by Brendon Burchard.
I’ve been blessed to work with many of the world’s most creative artists, singers, actors, authors, luminaries, and designers, and I’ve found that while they are each incredibly unique, they all had the same approach to developing their creativity. They were all avid people watchers and design lovers.
While many people think of highly creative people as lone artists, designers, or geniuses toiling away alone in their studios and offices, it turns out that creatives are incredibly social people whose creativity literally depends on their interactions with the world. This is why nearly every creative in the world would give you the exact same advice if you were to ask him or her, “How do I become more creative?” The answer would be, “Go watch people and explore the world.”
I once worked for a major clothing retailer that was struggling to be seen as more creative in the marketplace. To help its executives unleash creativity, it brought in one of the world’s most famed design firms to advise its executives. Here’s what the designers told them to do: go shopping. Really. The design firm suggested the retail executives get out in the “field” (malls), watch people shop, take notes, ask customers questions about why they bought what they were buying, notice what they themselves liked and didn’t like, and then go back to their offices and brainstorm and start designing. For this advice, the design firm charged hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The world’s most creative people are, at their cores, people watchers. They know that the spark of creative expression often comes to us not out of solitude but out of social inspiration. That’s why they’re intrigued by how people behave, interact, communicate, use products, work, shop, worship, and organize. In this sense, they’re like anthropologists. You can learn a lot from them. If you want to become more creatively expressed in life, start watching people as a practice, paying close attention to how others creatively express themselves. Notice what they like and don’t like, express and don’t express. Sometimes, just paying attention to people helps us notice new things within ourselves.
Not all people-watching is equally able to spur our own creative expression. You might find people-watching at the mall or the airport as a source of inspiration, but if you want the greatest amount of creative inspiration, do what the world’s most creative people do: engage in the arts. Watching a professional dance troupe can make you want to dance. Seeing an artist’s gallery can make you want to pick up a brush. Hearing a great musician can make you want to take up an instrument. While not all these examples may be true for you specifically, there’s no question that being around the creativity exuded in the arts engages and develops your brain’s right hemisphere and your mirror neurons. What you see is what you feel like, so watching the arts makes you feel more artistic. And that can only be a good thing.
When our creative energy in life seems to be flatlining, it’s important to remember all this. If you ever hit that point, get out of your house and go engage with the world again. Remember, genius loves company.
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