If a train is heading west at 78 miles per hour and a train is heading east at 64 miles per hour on the same track, how long until the two collide given that they are 129 miles apart? This was similar to the question my teacher asked me in 7th grade. I used a little creative thinking and came up with a few solutions in a matter of seconds without doing any math whatsoever.
Is there a place to switch tracks between them? Do their brakes work? How heavy are they? Are their any big hills between them? This did not please the teacher. She wanted an exact number. I wanted a creative solution that would solve the problem, like a true leader would do. The problem wasn’t what was on the paper, the problem was that two trains would collide, possibly harming people. Not to mention costing the railroad, and their customers, a lot of money.
This is how the world around us thinks. They think in black and white; cold hard numbers. We are trained to believe that the creative is not an option. No wonder we often find ourselves struggling to find a creative solution to our daily problems. We have suppressed our creativity for years.
During school, creativity may not earn you high marks, but in the business world, creativity can make you look like a genius. I mean, thank God that Steve Jobs never said to his team “stop being creative and just make a normal phone!” Here are a few creative ways to regain your creativity:
Write With A Crayon – Remember being a kid and using Crayons? Your childhood was likely the most creative time in your life. Channel that inner kid by breaking out a box of Crayons.
Watch Cartoons – It’s ok for an adult to turn off the news and turn on something that makes your imagination run wild. We are information digesters in today’s society. Our brain is never in creative imagination mode. Open your mind and let the ideas flow in.
Act Out – Grab a yard stick and make like Zorro. Playing pretend forces you to be creative and think outside your normal black and white life. Access the colors of life by playing a colorful character.
Fresh Air – Bust out of that stuffy office full of fake light. Vitamin D from the sun can help you feel more alive and the fresh air can make you think more clearly. It’s also good for your health to go walking.
Ask a Kid – Kids say the darndest things, remember that show? Kids really do say crazy things and come up with crazy ideas. Some of the creative, crazy ideas, might just be crazy enough to work!
Do not deny yourself the freedom to think creatively. Creative thinking is often what separates the typical leader from the great ones. The ability to see what could be is imperative to being able to come up with creative problem solvers and cast a vision for a brighter future for you and your company.
Question: How do you break out of the norm and come up with creative thoughts?