Chapter 22

Creativity allows you to constantly
create oppor­tu­nities

People who make creativity a source of their life will benefit from a wealth of ideas, boldness, confi­dence, and the freedom and pleasure of acting like an entre­preneur. But you cannot have this without making an effort. Our natural creativity, which has often been trashed by our formal education, needs to be developed, maintained with constant practice, and improved.

Curiosity and inventiveness

During childhood, we learn by observing, imitating, and trying things out. Adults respon­sible for children try to familiarize them with the world and to not let their curiosity “kill the cat”. Boundaries are set and things are forbidden. This comes at the expense of our natural creativity.

Adults’ behavior towards children assumes the notions, knowledge, and experience present in their society. This is very different in liberal societies. Adults also have very different levels of ability when it comes to adjusting and relating to children.

Some adults have a very tough time dealing with children and treat them like little adults and overwhelm them in the process because of this. Others are so focused on their surroun­dings that children become a nuisance to them. To keep this nuisance to a minimum, they bark commands at their children that they have to obey.

We all have suffered damage from the adult world that surrounded us when we were children and teenagers. Just like these adults were themselves also damaged in their youth. No one grows up without experi­encing some kind of mistakes in their upbringing, even by those who love us. Nevert­heless, we should be thankful to the people who intro­duced us to this world.

Because through them, despite every­thing, we have attained a degree of fitness to live that gives us the oppor­tunity to develop ourselves as adults. But we also have to take advantage of this oppor­tunity. Creativity is like a fountain that gives life. Once this fountain has been buried, we absolutely need to unearth it again and let it flow once more.

The world is full of short­co­mings that make you suffer and that are so irksome. But it is these thousands and thousands of short­co­mings that give every one of us the oppor­tunity to solve tasks and problems creatively. If the world and we humans were perfect, there would be no need for creativity.

Since this is not the case, we have had to rely on our inven­ti­veness since Adam and Eve were banished from paradise – for both good and bad parts of life. Every­thing had to be invented at some point. This is how our civiliza­tions and cultures developed. A generation is based on the inven­tions of the one that preceded it. We are born into the current state of development.

Tradition and progress

You need an entre­pre­neurial approach to life to make your life creative. This means making a habit of the following:

  1. Get to the bottom of things!
  2. Be open towards all new things!
  3. Don’t take every­thing for granted!
  4. Recognize oppor­tu­nities for improvement!
  5. Think in contexts!

Write down what you can come up with for each of these five points. Answer the question of why the respective aspect is relevant for a creative approach to life. Then write a letter to letter to a person in which you plainly and objec­tively lay out the great benefits of taking an entre­pre­neurial approach to life.

Despite of all that creativity, it does not make sense to want to reinvent the world. Improve yourself! During your turbulent teenage years, you tend to upend every­thing and do every­thing differ­ently than the adults. And if it helps to emancipate you – why not? But as an adult, you should quickly come to the conclusion that tradition and progress go hand in hand.

Without being grounded in tradi­tions, you quickly become like a disori­ented vagabond without a home – like a ship without a port. We need solid support from our tradi­tions when we move towards the uncer­tainty of the future. Shaping the future becomes a game of chance when we do not know about our prior history. You should apply this to yourself:

  • Where do I come from?
  • What do I identify with?
  • Who do I consider myself to be?
  • What am I oriented towards?
  • Where do I want to go?

Provide detailed answers to these five questions.

Set up an idea workshop!

In most cases, ideas come about unexpec­tedly and only rarely right when you need them. But they will not crop up at all if you fail to prepare the ground for them. You prepare this ground by setting up an idea workshop.

As part of this workshop, you need to place notes at fixed points in your surroun­dings. You need to write down any idea that pops into your mind as quickly as possible. Without criti­cizing it. Just the way it pops into your brain. That’s why it is important to keep sheets of paper and pens on hand all over the place. Otherwise, you will forget your idea! And this will result in your ideas drying up soon.

Your subcon­scious will only give you ideas when you also embrace them. This is like with every­thing you do: Something that is not part of your permanent lifestyle, or your constant practice, becomes stunted, is lost, and is not available when it’s needed. It must first be made available with tedious work. Just think about languages you do not use or sports you no longer do: All you can say is “I used to be able to…”

Collect the notes with ideas you have jotted down on them in an idea box. Keep on choosing ideas from the box and use these ideas for your creative training according to the “associate and diffe­ren­tiate” method.

In a first step, you tap into your pool of knowledge and personal experiences:

  • Write down all of the keywords you can think of for the idea you selected.
  • Write down all of the questions you can think of for every keyword.
  • Write down all possible answers for each question.
  • Write down which keyword you still need more infor­mation on. Write down where you want to find the necessary information.

If you think of new keywords while you are writing, write them down as well. If you think of additional questions and answers on the individual keywords: always add them in the corre­sponding spot. You can jump back and forth as you like.

You can also use small drawings, symbols, abbre­via­tions, etc. for your brain­storming. You will be collecting more or less important facts, data, opinions, notions, arguments, etc. on your idea bit by bit. The more chaotic your pages look in the end, the better this first step was.

In a second step, you add and narrow down the thoughts and experi­ences you wrote down.

Thoughts and experiences

If you cannot think of anything else after a short break for thinking, take a new large sheet of paper and write down every­thing again cleanly and formu­lated precisely with lots of space in between. You will probably think of a few new things during this process – also add these in the suitable spot in between.

Should this detailing become chaotic once again, write down every­thing again, cleanly, and formu­lated even more precisely. If you happen to think of something that you cannot add straigh­taway, write it down on a separate piece of paper.

Visualize the inter­con­nec­tions in the third step. To do so, go through all of your notes and mark every­thing that belongs directly together. Mark what belongs together with connecting lines.

After collecting and assigning, you will use the next steps to structure and diffe­ren­tiate every­thing. Use mindmapping to do so.

In the fourth step, write down your idea in the middle of a large piece of paper and write the keywords that belong together with one summa­rizing keyword each in the circle around topic. Order all of your notes as nodes and branches around the respective keyword.

Your work is complete once this mindmap looks like a map of a city and the individual parts of the city.

You create coherent struc­tures in the fifth step. To do so, check, correct, and add the “districts,” “squares,” and “streets” until every­thing is in a meaningful correlation.

In the sixth and final step, you ensure clarity and a clear presen­tation of the inter­con­nec­tions once again: Split up the infor­mation into multiple mindmaps as soon as a mindmap becomes too full. You can refer to literature on mindmapping for assis­tance. You will quickly find your own system after some practice.

Train your mental agility!

Ideas come to you about certain tasks and problems when you have dealt with them in detail and compre­hen­sively. Keep in mind: You can only find whatever you have a rough idea of. If you can’t picture it, it is impos­sible to see an idea as a solution for a problem – unless you stumble across it. But that is rare. Perfect solutions that no longer need to be worked on are uncommon. In most cases you can only see a starting point from which an idea needs to be developed. Creativity is a process, and not a lump of gold you just need to go out and pick up.

Developing content is a definite skill. Learn how to flesh out ideas you come with. Language exercises are ideally suited for this. These exercises help you to control your thoughts immediately and intensively.

People who are flexible enough to think in terms of

  • Different times and places
  • varia­tions
  • others’ viewpoints
  • options
  • different perspec­tives
  • opposites
  • different dimen­sions
  • inter­con­nec­tions

are able to 

  • turn and reverse
  • adapt and expand
  • center and reduce
  • substan­tiate and refine
  • arrange and place
  • structure and translate into plans

ideas in such a way that they can ultim­ately be expressed in terms of a project.

This can be practiced by using language, which helps your thoughts to be flexible. Additional exercises are:

  • assembling collages
  • playing with your thoughts
  • writing a story
  • making sculp­tures.

How you develop your creative skills

Choose a topic! (vacation, children, the office, environ­mental protection, fashion, water) Flip through some magazines and cut out all pictures that somehow can be related to your topic. Once you have cut out around 30 pictures, put together the images you like the most – about ten to twelve. Then put them together so they fit together well and form an overall picture for your topic. Then think about what you would say if you wanted to explain to other people what this collage expresses.

Mind games
Pick out a problem area that is outside your sphere of influence. For example, the educa­tional system or waste disposal. Make yourself aware of the short­co­mings of the system and its problems. Don’t let yourself get angry but rather perform a neutral and distanced analysis. To do so, find a quiet spot, close your eyes and think about what you would change if you had the power to do so for the system to work better. Get very specific for these conside­ra­tions and formulate a solution.

Take out a dozen pictures from your photo albums. Place your pictures in an order that allows you to invent a coherent story, such as a crime story or a love story or an adventure story. Tell the story of a person from your circle of friends.

The Swiss artist Tinguely created sculp­tures that one might call machines without a purpose. Follow Tinguely’s example. Go and find individual parts by taking apart damaged or scrapped devices or machines. Once you have collected 30 to 50 parts, put them together into a figure that resembles a human, animal, or something else with a little touch of imagination.

Your creative approach to life is crucial!

A “creative approach to life” means:

  • Don’t consider yourself as a finished person but as a person that is able to learn and needs to improve.
  • Don’t suffer from your short­co­mings but recognize the possi­bi­lities for overcoming them with creativity!
  • Observe your living environment from a distance, giving everyone the benefit of the doubt.
  • Keep an eye on the way things interact and under­stand their complexity.
  • Don’t get mad, but think about where and how you could intervene meaningfully by contri­buting your ideas.

Become an expert in the problems that concern your affairs. Only people who know precisely what the issue entails, what prior history it has, and what should be achieved, have prepared the ground for practical ideas.

Cultivate your creative thinking! Every person has creative potential. You discover your inven­ti­veness when you redirect your thinking from its set ways by training and become more mentally agile.

The enemies of your creativity are being
risk-averse and being afraid of change

Drive out your risk aversion and your fear of change! People who are not aware of their creative potential and therefore are unable to tackle challenges head-on cling to what has always been and to what they are used to. They consider every change to be a threat. They are afraid of new develo­p­ments. Sooner or later, the develo­p­ments will then leave them in the dust. Ruthl­essly. Risk aversion and fear of change are the nemesis of creativity, and they make you old and out of date.

Some people are their own biggest obstacles with their risk aversion and their fear of change and when it comes to developing a creative attitude towards life. However, people close to us who shy away from risk and are timid can also prevent us from taking charge of our future in the long run. Do not let that happen! Otherwise you will deprive yourself of the joy that imagi­na­ti­veness would afford you.

Turning ideas into reality

To implement ideas that are not exclu­sively about ourselves or about personal self-impro­vement, we need to colla­borate with other people. You need to have the necessary persua­si­veness and authority to do so. But authority is often not enough to remain the proprietor of your ideas. While copyright protection exists, you have to able to assert your rights.

Protective rights like patent and brand protection do exist. But securing this kind of protection costs time and money. And you will have additional trouble in the case of a dispute. Whether you ultim­ately get justice depends on how convincing the evidence you can present is.

You ultim­ately need power, and in business life, market power, when you want to implement ideas. There will always be people – in your personal and profes­sional life – who feel their interests and their well-being is threa­tened because of changes and therefore torpedo any idea whose advan­tages cannot be directed towards their own purposes.

Entre­pre­neurs are used to the struggle in the compe­tition to win customers with innova­tions. This is part of the market economy and is a driver of progress. You can best fight new develo­p­ments that threaten your own company by coming up with your own –superior – ideas.

The legal certainty upheld by the government is important for such a battle of ideas in order to keep compe­titors from resorting to unfair or even criminal means. In cases where the principle of good faith applies to only a limited extent and where corruption is not curbed, the market economy of compe­tition for the better solution, which serves everyone, becomes moribund and entre­pre­neurial activity incre­asingly takes place as if in a shark tank.

Markets force you to be creative

The entre­pre­neurs in a free market economy need to be creative people. Otherwise, they will not be able to survive the compe­tition in the long run. Societies that prevent their entre­pre­neurs from being creative endanger the greater good. The globa­lization of the compe­tition forces us to conti­nuously develop products and services that can be marketed globally with the help of research and development.

Company heads cannot do that on their own, and they need to involve their employees with their creative potential. Innovative companies have set up company suggestion schemes for this purpose. That’s why work is organized in groups whose freedom to self-organize and ongoing impro­vement of work processes is given.

Meetings have often replaced the system of command and obedience. Creative sessions are held to solve problems. The more profes­sio­nally the parti­ci­pants commu­nicate with each other, the more successful these meetings are. Therefore, in addition to profes­sional expertise, soft skills have become a mark of qualification.

Meetings during which it is more or less up to the moderator to introduce ideas are a waste of time. People who believe that they can come up with something as soon as they sit down with the others, because rubbing elbows with others is so stimu­lating, are like soccer players who are convinced that they will be good players despite their lack of training and conti­nuous personal impro­vement, as soon as they are on the pitch with the other players.

The potential for ideas in a group of creative employees is infinite

The “associate and diffe­ren­tiate” method can be applied very well to both personal develo­pment and group discussion work. The results of this collecting and struc­turing, which each parti­cipant has arrived at indivi­dually, are exchanged and combined. Pinboards and color cards have proven to be useful tools here. The steps are similar to the steps required for individual work:

  1. Write the keywords for the topic on the cards and pin them on the pinboard.
  2. Also write questions on the cards and pin them on the pinboard as well.
  3. Collect the answers and pin them on the board.
  4. Structure the input by putting together the cards that belong together.
  5. Add, specify, and structure the infor­mation until every­thing has been compiled and displayed systematically.
  6. Write a summary on the flipchart: a project outline or a need for action or an action plan, a list of measures, a decision formu­lated in words, a problem solution, a task, a work program or similar.

The potential for ideas in a group is inexhaus­tible when the members contribute the creative potential they have accrued through constant training and the group knows the rules of group communication.

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