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The Fast Company Executive Board is a private, fee-based network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.

Four ways to boost your creativity

In a world that increasingly relies on automation and technology, only the most creative thinkers will thrive. 

Four ways to boost your creativity
[memyjo/Adobe Stock]
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Surely, you’re familiar with the old left brain versus right brain adage. Those deemed left-brain dominant are mostly analytical and methodological in their thinking. Alternatively, those who are right-brain dominant tend to be more creative or artistic. While we know we use different hemispheres of our brain in different ways, the thought that each of us leans one way or the other is only a theory.

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That being said, when you think of someone creative, do you imagine an artist delicately stroking colors on a canvas? Or do you imagine a coder, hyper-focused on detecting glitches for a revolutionary new app? Both roles require a ton of creativity or outside-of-the-box thinking.

Creativity can’t really be defined as a single skill set. Upon further search, you’ll see it is the tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be used in solving problems, communicating, and entertaining others and ourselves. I guess that’s why they say a creative person is never really bored!

I like to think that creativity is the ability to connect the dots but faster. When you form the habit of connecting great points or ideas, tremendous (and creative) products and businesses emerge. I also believe a big part of finding those ideas starts with asking better questions—harder questions. And, of course, surrounding ourselves with deep thinkers who are willing to push us mentally.

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Creativity is like a muscle—the more it’s used, the stronger it becomes. I would encourage anyone to implement the below habits into their daily routine. In a world that increasingly relies on automation and technology, only the most creative thinkers will thrive.

1. CHALLENGE NORMS

A person who constantly challenges societal norms might ask questions like: Why do we have an eight-hour workday? Why is this the status quo? Why do we have office meetings? Is there a better way to sync and communicate?

While these are basic questions, try implementing new routines that relate to your productivity. Little things like reversing your morning routine can help your brain break out of autopilot mode. Journal or read for 10 minutes before you consume any technology.

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“Biohacking,” the act of making small, incremental diet or lifestyle changes to make improvements to your health and well-being, isn’t a new revolution but it does require creativity and experimentation. You won’t know how far you can go if you’re not willing to challenge the status quo.

2. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH CREATIVE PEOPLE

Do your peers, colleagues, or mentors inspire you? Do they do things the way they’ve always been done, or do you feel in awe by the trailblazers?

Get involved in other parts of your company. Ask others what kind of creativity they bring to their role. There’s a strong chance each individual, from engineers to graphic designers, will happily share the unique spin they bring to each task. If your workplace doesn’t offer much diversity in terms of roles, try joining a meet-up group.

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When we don’t challenge ourselves to meet new people, we end up missing out on opportunities we hadn’t even considered. To pursue a life of creativity is to seek others who challenge your beliefs—you might just find out they know or do something that could benefit you.

3. DO SOMETHING FOR THE FIRST TIME

For the majority of us, Monday through Friday looks the same. But what if you started consciously breaking that routine? Reverse the way you get ready in the morning just to challenge your habits. Find ways to shake things up.

Additionally, push yourself to try something you wouldn’t normally be comfortable with. For example, approach a stranger and strike up a conversation. This forces you to get creative about what you can discuss. Make it a goal to avoid small talk and see how engaged you can get others.

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4. REDEFINE YOUR LIMITS

The truth is, most people label themselves as non-artistic or non-creative before they even leave high school. What if your school teacher or former partner was wrong, and you possess an absurd amount of creativity that hasn’t been discovered yet?

Buy the drum set, take the masterclass on videography. Heck, keep it simple and write down 10 new ideas every day to get the wheels turning.

IMAGINATION IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN KNOWLEDGE

Albert Einstein, the mathematical genius, said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” That was almost 100 years ago. We may never understand what he was truly referring to then or what he would think of how we define creativity. I like to think he would say creativity is only limited by imagination. And that has no limit.

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I’ll say this: We need more of those who are willing to challenge the status quo. Those who constantly push themselves to experience uniqueness and are willing to redefine what’s been set as a limit. To all those flexing their creative muscles every day, I salute you.


Solomon is a sales and marketing guru who has built a number of successful companies over the last decade. Read more at Thimothy.com.