We all know Creativity at work is important. It is a leading driver of innovation and it boosts productivity. And when you are in the right flow, you are more creative and productive. Other than having a formulaic approach to better flow (Formula pins down what gets people in the “Flow”) we all want to know what leads to better creativity and some of the other outcomes it contributes to. I know what works for me and instinctively and from experience, you might know about these too. In this four part series I want to share what works for me – this post covers meditation and the creativity boosters tag captures all the posts.
First a little more about creativity and why it is so important at work. Each post from the series will elaborate on one aspect of this and then go onto the specific creativity booster that supports it.
Does creativity still matter in the age of Artificial Intelligence? That is a central question of our times as both “capabilities” are so in demand and prominent. My view is a resounding YES.
AI is becoming capable of creating music, art, code, etc. It is even driving outcomes in customer engagement. What then for the role of human originality. In my view, it is in combination that we can expand the infinite possibilities and solutions – technology, data and the human touch blended to achieve scalable solutions that meet unique human needs or spark unique human engagements.
Take customer engagement. Though AI is being used to driver greater customer engagement outcomes, humans are creative thinkers, seeing connections between things that might not seem at all related. Humans often see obscure links to find solutions to seemingly impossible problems. Humans also bring emotional intelligence and empathy, interpreting emotions and meaning from nuances in body language, voice, and even silence and adjusting as needed.
Empathy is critical too and showing that you understand a customer’s dilemma is the first step to helping them solve their problem.
Human cognition is also innately intuitive, using life experiences to make rapid decisions. We don’t just use the facts in front of us to make judgments and draw conclusions. We draw on experience and knowledge accumulated over a lifetime.
These are the things that make us creative powerhouses but together with machines we can stretch possibilities and performance as this HBR study confirms: Collaborative Intelligence: Humans and AI Are Joining Forces.
I have written an eBook on Mindfulness practice and how it can lead to better outcomes at work including how it can improve your creativity. Improved mindfulness is an outcome of meditation BUT that is not the point of meditation.
As Alan Watts conveys in this video:
Meditation is the discovery that the point of life is always arrived at in the immediate moment and therefore if you meditate for an ulterior motive, that is to say, to improve your mind, to improve your character, to be more efficient in life, you’ve got your eye on the future and you are not meditating.
Meditating to improve your creativity is the same thing. Having said that, done well and for the right purpose, meditation definitely does improve a vast number of things as a result, including your creativity – or so I find.
And whether it’s through meditation or an increased level of mindfulness, there are also things you can do to increase your flow state and inspiration potential or just get you back on the right path. Here are a few pointers:
- Activities you can do to influence an “aha moment” brain state:
- Reduce distractions (sensory deprivation), e.g. meditation session with eyes closed, go into a dark space, etc.
- Think positive (it activates the anterior cingulate which expands your scope of thought)
- Widen horizons (imagine yourself in a vast environment like space, or a different one, like another country)
- Notice when you have the urge to “push through” or “think harder” and try stepping away instead. Stepping away is part of the creative process. Giving your unconscious mind time to reorganize the information and clarify it for you.
- Setting aside time for creative play provides the space the mind needs to work out how to bring ideas to life. Everyone has the capability of creativity. Think of it as forming patterns in unique ways. Here is a sample of some activities for creative play. The key to play is to detach from the outcome and release yourself from the rules and structure. In other words, just see what comes up without judgement!
- Sketching – I swear by it with my DanelDoodles.
- Non-dominant hand exercises
- Fantasy/Day Dreaming
- Dance/Free movement
- Decorating your workspace or home – just rearranging things can sometimes help, even clearing things up (especially clutter)