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Learning the Creative Habit

We need not be born creative to make creativity flow. The creative instinct is a muscle that simply needs exercise to excel. Breaking old thought patterns is the first step.

Faced with a problem, we have each used logic, deduction or creativity to find solutions. And in most situations, we used our favourite approach, which gives us the solution most of the time. With repeated use, we favour our approach more and more and rely less on alternative approaches.

When our favourite approach does not work, we try a secondary strategy, or later a tertiary method. As we venture into techniques that we use less, we are also less good at them and tend to question their effectiveness and results. Experimenting with these less used approaches yields less initial results and confirms our belief that we should stick with what we know. So we increasing rely on a limited set of tools that serve us for most purposes, but also limit our experimentation with other approaches that could be more appropriate and fruitful. It's a vicious circle.

The favourite technique may be creativity for some while for others it is logic, data collection or hands-on experimentation. Crossing over can be clumsy – have you ever seen a creative person attempt to be structured? Or found an analyst in a brainstorm? Still, there is much to gain by expanding our set of thinking skills. By applying a wider array of thinking approaches we can better entertain multiple perspectives, deepen our understanding and multiply both our options and results.

Widening our set of approaches calls on us to not be discouraged by early failures, to learn from our mistakes and to have the discipline to continue our search.

When we break away from traditional models, we can expect our peers to be upset – they expect us to do what we usually do. Thinking patterns are learned habits that can be selected, expanded and refined. We all have creativity within us, to see it start by letting it out.

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