Creative thinking is an essential skill for every marketing and communication professional and to stay on top of it we must always be in motion. By being in motion I don’t just mean moving physically from one place to another, but also meeting people with similar ambitions and goals in life who have different interests from our own, and constantly being on a lookout for inspiration from the surrounding world.
Recently, I have learned something about creativity and the way my mind works. I had just finished a study abroad period in Sweden where I lived for the past six months. This was a great opportunity to experience a different culture, meet the people there and learn a lot about Sweden and the Swedish. However, Sweden and Holland (where I previously lived) are not that different from each other and the change was not as dramatic as I had expected. As a result of that I wasn’t really able to get out of my comfort zone and find a challenge that could fire up my mind and activate my creative thinking. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t creating stuff – I had been working on two blogs and have significantly increased my online presence and used the time I had to build a nice little professional network.
What I missed, however, was those amazing little moments when great ideas just seem to appear in front of you, even when you are asleep. My brain was simply not getting enough food for thought. Moving is living and there wasn’t that much moving at the time.
A couple of weeks ago I left Sweden and went to Germany for a few days before I left to Spain for a weeks holiday on one of it’s islands in the Mediterranean. I also reconnected with one of my closest friends with whom we share pretty similar ambitions, yet our interests are in two quite different fields. And as usual we had great conversations.
This had a remarkable effect on me. Suddenly, as if my brain had awaken again and started generating all these great ideas. In addition, the wonderful Spanish environment and the sea had become an infinite source of inspiration.
What I have learned from this experience are three very simple and rather obvious lessons about the creative process. In order to stimulate creative thinking and generate great ideas a person should:
– seek a change of environment and try to escape the grasp of the comfort zone
– have conversations with like minded individuals who have interests different from our own
– take inspiration from the surrounding world and apply it to his or her great ideas
I believe that combining these three steps is the way forward to escape from the greyness of everyday life and stimulate these creative juices. Consequently, you will experience the great process of coming up with something brilliant…and that as you know is a feeling like no other!