How Do You Practice Creativity?

How Do You Practice Creativity?

Articles to Inspire+Learn

Yesterday I had the great pleasure to lead workshops on creativity and innovation for truly incredible teachers and administrators from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

For the past two years I’ve been working with one of my clients, Rippowam Cisqua School, to build a culture that supports creativity. In other words, we seek to create a learning community that nurtures meaningful, rigorous growth in each student–and faculty member. In the workshops, we shared with others what we’ve been doing so they can do it, too.

Here’s your math problem for the day:
creative practice => meaningful growth + positive change 

On this topic, there is one question that arose during the professional development workshop that I’d like to answer in this email for the benefit of all my readers.

The question is this: How is creativity taught? 

The simple answer: Creativity is taught by practicing.

Which begs another question: How do you practice creativity?

Practicing creativity leads us to teach or parent or manage employees creatively, with meaningful growth and positive change as the outcomes.

All it takes is one act to begin–a shift in mindset. Shifting to a mindset for creativity is like throwing a stone into a placid lake. In my head, it looks like this:

Step-by-step, it looks like this:

1. Start with your own mindset. Read Creativity for Everybody for the basics. Read it sideways for practice prompts. 

2. Use your creative strengths and notice them in others. Highlight them. Devise ways they can use them in their work or play.  Here’s our free Strengths Spotter tool you can use to start. 

3. Spark creative thinking in your lessons, meetings, or daily interactions. Start by tweaking your questions. I’ll teach you how here on my TEDish talk. 

4. Increase engagement by stoking excitement for the next lesson at school, the next meeting or initiative, or even the next weekly errand. Learn from teacher Emily Hyland here. 

5. Learn a simple process and tools to support creative thinking in daily work.

Teachers, the Torrance Incubation Model helps you easily integrate creative thinking skills with content.

Managers and admins, the creative problem solving process helps create solid collaborative teams, provides decision making and planning tools, and more.

Check out our fun and hands-on professional development trainings for educators and for organizations here.

6. Collaborate with others on big, complicated projects.

Why do you think #6 is last? Go back to that ripple effect. Step 1 is the catalyst and steps 1 through 5 support sustained innovation in the long run. Save step 6 until you are consistently thinking, living, and practicing creativity and then, only if you want to.

Sometimes we think practicing creativity has to be big and complicated. Sometimes it is. But most creativity happens in individual lives every day.

I said in the workshop yesterday that teaching creatively is easy. I regretted the use of that adverb. A Zumba expert might tell me Zumba is easy, but I dropped the class because the steps were so complicated and I didn’t have motivation to learn. Let me amend this:

Teaching and living creatively is a joy, once you achieve a shift in mindset.

Perhaps if I had been able to practice easier steps before the quick and complicated ones I’d have enjoyed Zumba more.

Creativity is active. It is change and growth. It does take effort to overcome the inertia that tends to pull us back to the status quo, but it sure is worth it.