How to think creatively

Career transition time, the time when you are searching for your first job or your next one, is interesting. You are both excited and nervous about facing the interviewers, “what kind of questions will they ask?”, “What skills and experience should I mention in my resume?”, “What should I wear to the interview?”, these and more such questions come to your mind. And if you ask us, it’s really normal.

Some of us even ask friends or colleagues to help prepare for the interview, especially if it’s the opportunity you have been waiting for. You are confident about your chances of getting your dream job. You have the required skills, on-field experience, and your previous work speaks of your strong, soft skills – teamwork, problem-solving, and decision making. But what about your creative thinking part?

Confused? Whether it’s a marketing job or a manager’s post in a manufacturing company, every job description includes ‘soft skills’ in the requirements and responsibilities section. And most people read these soft skills as – teamwork, time management, being agile and organizational, problem-solving, and decision-making.

But those who know the true meaning of soft skills know that creativity is also an essential part of soft skills. After all, if you can’t think creatively, if you don’t look at the problem beyond certain boundaries, how will you be able to solve the problem and make the right decisions?

But can you develop creative thinking? Isn’t creativity is a born trait? Well, yes, and no. Some people are indeed born with certain gifts, for example, the legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar. At the same time, many others develop their talent over time by working on their techniques. Sachin Tendulkar could be the best example of this.

This means you can also follow some techniques and work on them to develop and improve your creative side.

But before we jump on to discuss these techniques and address the big elephant in the room here. Contrary to popular belief, creative thinking is more than what is applied in DIY craft projects or in fields such as performing and applied arts as well as media and marketing.

What is creative thinking?

Creative thinking is when you use your abilities and soft skills to find new and better solutions to existing problems.

These are the techniques one uses to analyze and assess the situation from different and creative angles and decide what is planning and solution to solve the existing problem.

Talking about techniques, let’s discuss some easy methods that will help you think creatively.

3 Ways to develop and improve your creative thinking

  • Ask yourself “what if”

 We all have dreams that we see with open eyes; it could be the dream of becoming rich, starting a business, or looking down from the topmost floor of the Eiffel Tower.

Now, imagine how you can make these dreams come true. After rounds of brainstorming and riding horses of your imagination in the right direction, there’s a chance you might find a practical and creative way to solve a problem.

Remember, creative thinking is not always a fruit of your IQ enlightenment. Practicing your powers of imagination and observation is equally important.

And you can do this by asking three “what if”s to every situation.

  • What if you change the existing system/product/social relationship/way or solution etc.?
  • What if you had a huge amount of money to improve the existing solution?
  • What would you change or improve in the current product/service/system if you had to use it in the next ten years?
  • Make time for cohesive thinking

A friend of mine recently asked for creative advice, an out-of-the-box marketing strategy for his client. And I, out of habit, turn to Google to search for some great marketing campaigns the big brands have run so far.

Well, I am sure I am not the only culprit. In the era of social media and information overload, our first or last resort to solve a problem is Google or social media platforms like Twitter, Youtube, and Instagram.

While taking information or inspiration from others is a great start, the true creative thought will only pop up in mind when you allocate time to brainstorm every day of every week.

Exercise creative thinking about something specific; it could be related to your personal, professional, or social life. This will help you train your thoughts and focus on cohesive, creative ideas whenever you need them.

  • Learn to pitch your ideas

Let’s go back to that interview you have been preparing for. Your recruiters have arranged a group discussion of all the candidates selected for a final round. And you have given a problem to solve hypothetically.

Let’s say you present a brilliant idea, but it is rejected or labeled as not as practical or effective. However, the other candidate pitches a similar idea only in a more effective manner and wins the praises from everyone. Why did this happen? The answer is your pitch.

There’s an old saying, “if you can’t explain your idea in three sentences, then you don’t have an idea.” Presenting ideas clearly within few minutes is also a part of creative thinking. And you can only articulate this way by practice.

Creative thinking not only guides you out of the personal crisis, but it has the potential to guide you towards your career growth. Every leader and innovator needs people around who can come up with new creative ideas. Practicing these techniques will help you develop your creative thinking ability and help you become a valuable asset to your team, attracting more great career opportunities and social relations in the future.

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