As Pablo Picasso famously said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”
How true his observation seems. Unlike children, who have the unlimited capacity for artistic expression and creative pursuits, the well of inspiration and imagination can run dry from time to time for even the most highly inventive of adults. So what to do when we suddenly find ourselves in such a ‘creativity crisis’? How do we get unstuck?
Here are a few immediate remedies.
Engage with children.
There is no better way to learn than directly from the masters. Seek out the company of children and spend time observing how they think, play, and interact. Better yet, engage with them directly and experience seeing the world from their level.
For example, the illustrations for my book, Slingshot, were done by children. But in addition to requesting the art, I posed questions to each artist that revealed their perceptions of the world. One of the questions was: “Complete the sentence: What if _____?” Their answers included:
- What if a banana could talk? – Age 6
- What if everyone was bald? – Age 7
- What if our life was just a dream and when you got to heaven you started a new life? – Age 11
Put yourself outside your comfort zone.
One of the best things you can do to awaken your senses and rekindle your creativity is to exit your familiar environment. Go to a place you have never been before, or experience something for the first time. Doing this engages your curiosity, your sense of adventure, and your wonder.
To illustrate this, consider that in 2013, Starwood Hotels CEO Frits van Paasschen announced that the company’s global headquarters were temporarily moving to Dubai for a month, following a similar relocation to Shanghai. The initiative in large part was meant to stimulate the leadership team’s thinking by exposing them to the most innovative, future-shaping environments. But of course, this type of temporary immersion can be done on a much smaller scale and personal level.
Learn something new.
As Confucius stated 2,500 years ago, “People who develop the ability to continuously acquire new and better forms of knowledge will be the movers and shakers in our society for the indefinite future.”
We all have an infinite capacity to learn, so why not take advantage? When you embrace a new frontier, whether it’s learning a language, a recipe, or how to surf, you are re-experiencing the thrill of discovery and overstepping boundaries. Which in turn will reawaken your creative talents.
Take the Imagination Kit Challenge
The goal of the Imagination Kit Challenge is to reignite our sense of limitless exploration, imagination, and resourcefulness that we all had as children. Moreover, the challenge empowers you to experience the power and thrill of leveraging the Innovation Shortcut—finding new connections and meaning between already existing but seemingly unrelated components—for yourself.
The challenge is very simple. The kit is an eclectic mix of everyday items. The goal of the challenge is to assemble the components in the kit to create the most fun game possible. You can do this solo, but the challenge is better with a small team. If you do assemble a team, try to make it as diverse as possible in terms of age, gender, and background, and you can even try assembling multiple teams. Here’s the central website for reference, www.imaginationkit.com, and below are the components of the kit to get you thinking:
- 1 small bag of uncooked rice or beans
- 1 newspaper
- 6 paper cups
- 6 small balloons
- 12 wooden clothespins
- 12 drinking straws
- 1 thin rope – 30 feet/10 meters in length
- 1 small roll of tape – 15 feet/5 meters in length
By viewing common, unrelated objects as game components, the challenge alters your perspective and stimulates your mental horizons just as children do every day. It also enables you to experience the thrill of innovation by combining existing elements in a purposeful new way.
So what are you waiting for? Your temporarily dormant imagination is aching to be reawakened. Go ahead and spring it back to life!