Curious how some people seem to generate more innovative ideas, solutions, and results than others?

The truth is that the greatest inventors, artists, and creative business leaders come from a variety of backgrounds, but often utilize many of the same habits.

While some people seem to naturally be more inventive, there are a number of carefully crafted ways of being that can help you be more successful and productive in your work and life.

While each approach requires some discipline, they are all actions that don’t require any special training or ability.

Here are 8 habits to boost your level of creativity, productivity, and success:

1)  Read a lot

A common trait among creative and highly successful leaders is that they read a lot.  They see everything as source material for ideas and learning.  Take time to read substantive material from a variety of sources and viewpoints to avoid narrow thinking.  Use waiting time in lines, on the train, etc. as additional opportunities to educate yourself  and broaden your perspective. 

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2)  Write things down

With the amount of information we are exposed to, it is impossible to remember all the important takeaways or insights we have.  Capture your ideas and thoughts in a journal, on a notepad, or on your phone.   Nuggets of wisdom, seeds of new projects, inspirational quotes, etc. help stimulate your mind and store it for better recall and later use.


3)  Curate friends and colleagues that challenge you

The adage that who you spend your time with plays a strong influence on your destiny is true.  Think about the quality of your relationships.  Are they providing enough stimulation?  Do you learn anything new from them?   Take time to nurture relationships with people from a variety of backgrounds and experience.


4)  Experiment and tinker

Many of the most original thinkers and creative producers have harnessed the power of experimentation and “tinkering” with ideas and products.   Don’t shut down concepts with harsh evaluation before the idea gets a chance to bloom a little.  Don’t be afraid to try out a prototype of an idea or start with a simple product that gets refined over time.  Continue to review what you’re created and then develop multiple iterations of what you’re working on if necessary.


5)  Build in processing and strategizing time

The best ideas and decisions are made when you have quiet time with your thoughts. You must have “white space” in your day or week to review progress against goals, anticipate issues and plan ahead, and develop the next vision. Block out time on a regular basis for this important activity and guard against it getting interrupted or curtailed with pressing issues. 


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6)  Seek inspiration in unlikely places

Your creative edge is sharpened when you are exposed to novelty.  Talk to people outside your area of expertise.   Do things outside your comfort zone.  Build new experiences into your routine.  When you expand your frame of reference by doing and seeing unusual things, you’re more likely to stimulate your imagination.


7)  Find connections and commonalities among seemingly unrelated things

The most creative inventors and leaders bring together good ideas from multiple sources and find potential new applications or synergies.  While on a hunting trip, Swiss inventor George de Mestral noticed that burrs from a burdock plant were sticking to his pants.  The burrs of a plant allow it to spread its seed farther afield by attaching itself to an unsuspecting host, such as a dog or rabbit.  After looking at how the burr was designed to attach to things, he got the idea that led to the invention of Velcro, a type of fabric fastener that has even been used by NASA for space suits.

8)  Study what the best do and apply what’s relevant

Creativity and ingenuity thrive on seeing other great ideas, inventions, products, etc.   Study the output as well as the processes of leaders doing great things and use this information as a source of input for your own work.  The idea is to learn from and improve upon, but not copy.  Remember, when you craft and hone your own unique ideas, your originality will help you stand out.

DIVE DEEPER:  Boost your success and productivity as a leader by mastering how you think about your life story here.

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