If you know me, I sign emails with the closing statement “Creatively”, prior to my name. It’s a quality that I believe has utmost importance, especially as a Marketer.
Why is creativity important to me?
Think about it: the way you look at something is different from the way any other human looks at it.
Unlike learned skills, the creativity in your mind is uniquely yours.
You can practice ways to enhance and unleash creativity. But like a fingerprint, no two people think creatively in the same exact way.
Putting your stamp on any old idea is the basis of creativity. Your ability to find useful and imaginative ways to solve problems is priceless.
Like a fingerprint, no two people think creatively in the same exact way.
There are endless reasons why creativity is important.
However when it comes to decision making, it’s necessary to balance out the analytical mind to understand and consider all possible options.
As humans, we spend a lot of time over-thinking, stressing, worrying, complicating. These are all analytical traits.
BONUS: Use our worksheet as a guide for boosting your creativity. Download it now!
While analysis is important in the decision making process, you also need to infuse it with:
- and most of all: personality!
Your mind is constantly moving through the menial tasks of everyday life. When your mind wanders, it likely spends time replaying past events or imagining future ones.
Your creative tendencies are always bubbling underneath, often blocked by the repetitive nature of your daily routines.
How can you break free of these patterns and put your natural creativity to use?
First, let’s find out how our ideas come to life.
The Anatomy of a Creative Idea
Professor Vincent Walsh of University College London’s Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience gave a TEDx Talk on Neuroscience and Creativity in which he identifies the four stages of idea generation according to Graham Wallis:
The preparation stage is an ongoing process of gathering information, experience, and context. All of these are used to both identify problems and then conceive possible solutions.
In the incubation stage, you mull over the data you’ve gathered until inspiration strikes.
When inspiration takes hold, you can easily see why creativity is important. This is when your unique innovative skillset takes over and finalizes the details.
During the verification stage, you mentally cross-check your fully formed idea to ensure it holds water. If it checks out, you’ve completed the four steps.
If during verification, you realize the idea needs a few tweaks, you will naturally return to the incubation stage.
The process above may appear linear.
But it isn’t.
Furthermore, the four stages aren’t treated equally, either.
You may spend months or years in the preparation stage and fail verification dozens of times before you generate an idea that you consider worthy!
This is the creative process: a nebulous thing that also has its foundation in something remarkably akin to the scientific method.
As for the all-important “eureka moment,” it may come about easier than you think (no pun intended!).
There are four stages of idea generation: preparation, incubation, inspiration and verification.
According to neuroscientists John Kounious and Mark Beeman, insight is a product of a relaxed brain. The more we concentrate and strain for inspiration, the less likely we are to get it.
This is why some of my best ideas come to me when I am on vacation; or for many people in the shower!
Why Creativity is Important to Decision Making
Now that you understand how your brain’s creativity produces unique ideas, let’s use that creativity when making decisions.
For example, say your copy department provides you with five slogans for an upcoming pitch. Creative thinking can assist in identifying the strongest solution.
While your analytical mind considers things like market research, your creative mind will tap into key traits like:
- the desire for excitement
- emotional triggers
- confidence in your expertise
“Brainstorming” is such a fun word, right?
Unleashing your creativity truly creates a storm of activity in your brain.
Data is powerful and anyone can aggregate it. It’s what you DO with the data that sets you apart. That’s where creativity comes into play.
There are many reasons why leaders know that creativity is important to decision making. The following list includes scenarios that benefit from both creativity and analysis:
- Selecting the right employee(s) for the right project
- Fostering effective partnerships and collaborations
- Motivating stagnant teams
- Considering solutions for anticipated roadblocks
With this in mind, it is easy to see how creativity can play a role in day-to-day decision making for a business.
SEE ALSO: 7 New Types of Leadership Models for Innovative Thinkers
Tapping Into Your Creativity for Making Decisions
Knowing that there are endless ways to apply your unique creative abilities, consider all the ways to tap into them.
Creativity sparks innovation.
“Innovator” often tops the list of personal traits used to describe the most successful people, past and present alike.
Even if you don’t feel like a very creative person, you can tap into your natural abilities and practice, practice, practice.
Then practice some more.
As odd as it may seem, truly creative and innovative moments happen most often when the mind is relaxed and free.
You’ll want to consider these seven reasons why creativity is important to decision making, and then follow our tips for tapping into it!
1. Creativity Renews Motivation
Being surrounded by nature helps renew motivation, a necessity for everyone, especially those in high-pressure leadership roles.
Tap Into It Tip:
Get motivated by going outdoors
This scientific study proves that time spent outside, away from the tech-filled daily grind will up your creative flow.
Exposure to things like natural sunlight, fresh air, open space, and the sounds of wildlife help to relax and “reset” the mind.
Additionally, the article explains that “disconnecting from social media, cell phones, and computers restores your prefrontal brain circuits, which are associated with creativity and higher-level thinking.”
Now, don’t confuse going outside with being “outdoors”. The key to this creative exercise is connecting with nature.
Go to the park, take a hike, and generally speaking, surround yourself by green.
The idea is to step away from the hustle and bustle.
Meaning, a 10-minute walk around the block is good for the body, but it won’t be hugely effective for the creative mind.
Scientific studies prove that time spent outside, away from the tech-filled daily grind will up your creative flow.
Try to get lost in nature, if you have the opportunity in your location.
One of our best newsletters was written about a hawk I saw hovering above a giant evergreen. Of course, I related it to being an influencer in the forest of business!
2. Creativity Promotes Clarity
It’s proven that when your mind isn’t busy trying to work through a problem, relive the past, or ponder the future, you are in the creative sweet spot.
Tap Into It Tip:
Take a break by daydreaming
Breaks help amp up creative thinking.
The trick is to take the right kind of break. The best creativity-inducing breaks include activities that require “auto-pilot” type thinking.
If you’re mulling over an idea too intensely and just can’t get over the hump, allow yourself a break that includes a light amount of stimulation.
Think about something you routinely do that still requires thought, like preparing a snack. This kind of break forces you to think a bit, but ultimately frees your mind to wander creatively.
“Day dreaming” while in the midst of a mildly stimulating task creates a hotbed of creativity.
Try this on your next break!
Instead of watching a funny clip or scrolling Facebook, try engaging “just enough” of your mind with a puzzle app or a memory game.
3. Creativity Strengthens Critical Thinking
Mentally reviewing experiences and determining what warrants retelling hones your ability to think critically about your daily actions.
Tap Into It Tip:
Express your ideas by keeping a journal
In addition to requiring creativity, writing a journal is essentially an exercise in critical thinking.
You can imagine how helpful this is when it comes to future decision making!
There is so much creativity required when it comes to writing. You can literally earn your college degree in creative writing – that’s how stimulating it is!
This is because writing is based on expression. It opens the mind and encourages free-flowing thought.
Your natural instinct will be to write about your day and that’s perfect. Don’t hold yourself back though, feel free to write about anything that comes to mind.
Remember that journaling is an exercise in creativity, not perfection.
This means you don’t have to worry about editing, grammar, if your writing is “good” or anything else. Just write for your own enjoyment and see how it gets your creative juices flowing.
My favorite outlet is writing about something that happened during the day and pulling it back to relate to a bigger picture.
For example, summer nights being eaten by mosquitos translated into: even the smallest of creatures can make a huge impact.
4. Creativity Helps See the Big Picture
The act of being artistic requires your brain to maintain a view of the big picture throughout the process. For any leader, seeing the big picture is an essential quality.
Tap Into It Tip:
Think bigger through artistic activities
It’s all right if you aren’t an actual artist. Luckily, your artistic abilities aren’t terribly relevant here. Like journaling, it doesn’t matter if the outcome is “good”, it’s the process that makes the impact.
You know what you’re attempting to create, and deciding how to use your pencil or brush will get you there.
Can you “draw” the parallels between being artistic and professional decision making? Pun intended!
There are lots of ways to practice this creativity-enhancing technique:
- learning an instrument
The list can go on.
If you want to try something basic and fun, go to your local art store and pick up a sketchbook and pencil set. You may find that you enjoy sketching and you’re sure to notice how artistic endeavors unlock your creativity.
Heck, you can even head over to the local pottery painting studio and create something while sipping on a glass of wine.
The idea is to shift your mind to a more art-centered creative perspective.
Artistic activities can help leaders see the bigger picture better.
If you just can’t get into any of these ideas, remember that journaling is artistic too. Anything that promotes free thinking can fall under this category.
5. Creativity Cranks Up Productivity
A well rested mind becomes more creative, spawning ideas for efficiency and more effective process.
Tap Into It Tip:
Produce more by taking a nap
Here’s one your boss definitely won’t love (unless you’re the boss!). That’s okay, taking a nap will be something you can practice off the clock.
How does napping spur creativity? Just like day dreaming, actual dreaming taps into the subconscious that is rich with out of the box ideas.
The fact is, people are more productive and creative after a nap. Naps should be no more than 20 minutes so that your mind is able to rest without entering REM sleep.
Napping can be hard.
It takes practice because our bodies tend to want to sleep longer. Employ these tricks to fall asleep fast and make the most of a power nap:
- Find a dark place or use a sleep mask.
- Set a comfortable temperature.
- Block out distracting noise.
- Set a timer to ensure naps happen in quick spurts
6. Creativity Promotes Positivity
A positive attitude makes the decision making process much easier. Stressed people will see a problem where a positive person sees a challenge!
Tap Into It Tip:
Get moving for more positive energy
If you’re not the napping type, try getting up and out. It can be hard to get creative when you’re sitting behind a desk for long hours.
Simple acts like walking and stretching immediately help to refresh the body and mind.
Science tells us that people who are more active are also more creative.
The research shows that regular exercise improves divergent and convergent thinking, the two components of creative thinking.
Beyond this, exercising releases endorphins which give you that feel-good “runner’s high”.
Increasing oxygen in the blood helps you replenish mental energy. Finally, staying active leads to the growth of new nerve cells and synapses.
A strong brain is a creative brain!
7. Creativity Promotes Logical Reasoning
The key to creativity is a clear mind, still focused (barely) on another stimulation. Turning off the tendency to overthink and analyze inevitably makes room for creative thought.
Tap Into It Tip:
Think clearly by meditating
Like napping, meditating encourages creative thinking. Meditating promotes the act of quieting your mind and gaining clarity.
When meditating, the focus is placed on your breathing.
Meditation is incredibly powerful in more ways than just promoting creativity.
This activity can:
- build a sense of peace within,
- reduce stress,
- and increase happiness.
When it comes to decision making, this is important, because it builds your logical reasoning skills.
Meditating promotes the act of quieting your mind and gaining clarity, encouraging creativity.
And just like unlocking that creativity, it takes practice. This article in the New York Times is a great place to start if you’d like to learn more about mediation.
This list includes just a few examples of why creativity is important, and how to build upon your natural skills.
There are many techniques beyond this list that may work well for you. This interesting article shares more techniques to unlock your creativity.
Creativity is important to decision making for a wide variety of reasons. Put simply, applying your creativity to the decision making process will make you a more effective leader.
The ability to think both analytically and creatively will serve to produce more well-rounded outcomes for your business.
I’ve shared seven reasons why creativity is important to decision making. Try to tap into your creativity with these key exercises:
- Get motivated by going outdoors
- Take a break by daydreaming
- Express your ideas by keeping a journal
- Think bigger through artistic activities
- Rest your mind by taking a nap
- Get moving for more positive energy
- Think clearly by meditating
Can you share why creativity is important to you?