The future belongs to the innovators — to the creatives. But how do you build your creativity? Da Vinci Group COO Amutha Saravanan shares her thoughts.
As I am writing this, I am in Finland, the land of world leaders in creativity, innovation and education. My company the Da Vinci Group was invited here by the Finnish embassy in Singapore and its counterparts in Finland to take part in their largest education fair, Educa 2018.
The future lies in the hands of creative and innovative minds. While literacy and numeracy are a given and can be easily acquired (via the internet, books, classes, etc.), creativity is something that no one really has the formula for.
Our brain is all about the associations and connections we make. Put simply, the more connections we make, the more agile our mind becomes in applying these associations. When we find a way to apply these associations out of context in a different setting, creativity is born.
Of course, I am simplifying. However, at the heart of the matter, this is what it is.
So how do we build creativity?
1. Learn a new hobby every 3 months or so
If I were addressing children, I would say, have ample playtime. Playtime allows for problem solving and imagination.
The only equivalent I can think of for adults is to intentionally have a hobby. It frees your mind from the daily grind, allowing you space to focus on an entirely different thing.
Focusing on something that isn’t part of your usual pattern of thinking disrupts your regular neural connections, creating new ones.
That’s how I discovered pottery, which is a great hobby, by the way, because you literally create something out of nothing but a lump of clay. It builds your planning (executive functioning) skills and so on.
2. Get enough sleep
Many people know this, but don’t do it. My Japanese sensei once said that the critical time for the brain to rest and consolidate every night is between 10 pm and 2 am. In our urban settings, we are constantly in overdrive.
I am guilty of this too — running a business is a 24/7 deal. However, sleeping is so crucial to ensuring that you are cutting-edge in your game. When you sleep, whatever you’ve processed for the day either gets discarded or moved into another segment in your memory. This time is important for the brain to operate efficiently.
3. Read widely, travel, and explore
Read everything you can. Travel as much as you can. Reading and travelling are like fuel for creativity — there has to be something to use and work with to be creative.
The wider the base for this knowledge that you are acquiring, the more permutations you may have to apply interesting ideas in situations.
4. Cook if you can (without a recipe)
I’ve recently discovered that cooking gets my mind ticking in various ways, especially when I don’t plan a meal and just improvise with the ingredients.
Of course, some meals turn out well and some don’t; we have to be prepared for that, and that is all in the spirit of learning. This is a very good example of applying what you know already about meals, flavours and textures into real life so you create something different.
5. Eat failure for breakfast
Failure is the premise of innovation. If we can dissociate that the failure is just a failure and that I am not the failure, then that would create another opportunity for us to try. This builds on resilience, openness and adaptability – skills and elements that lay the foundation for creativity and innovation to be expressed.
The common thread in the points written above is a certain intentionality, an intentionality to want to be creative. Just going through the motions can only get you so far.
However, when you are intentional in building creativity, you will seek opportunities that will allow you to apply yourself. It requires training like any skill.
This is where we at Da Vinci Group fall back on brain science to figure out how we can cultivate this. A premium education and training services company, Da Vinci Group’s programmes are one-of-a-kind, created using the tenets of neuroeducation, as well as art platforms such as clay and process drama.
Treat the brain like a complex muscle. It takes practice to make something into a permanent way of thinking.
Featured image: Shutterstock
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