10 Myths of Creativity

 

The idea for the novel is not only clear, but the story is outlined and researched.  Still, the page is blank.  She is waiting for the inspiration to make it happen.

The business to create a fortune is constantly pushed to the backburner.  Magazines and books are consumed like candy as he studies ideas only to continue looking.  The idea never is good enough.

Someone is waiting for a divine moment, that flash of insight that is a near-religious experience.  Until that happens, the idea is frozen.

Creativity myths have been around for centuries.  David, you say that these myths hinder the creative process.  In fact, the subtitle of your new book is The Truth About How Innovative Companies and People Generate Great ideas.  How does knowing the truth about these myths help?  Why is rewriting the myths so important?

David Burkus is the author of The Myths of Creativity: The Truth About How Innovative Companies and People Generate Great Ideas. He is also founder of LDRLB and assistant professor of management at Oral Roberts University. Find out more about David at www.davidburkus.com. He also writes for Forbes, 99U, and the Harvard Business Review.

We’ve been writing myths for thousands of years. Myths are attempts to describe the world around us, everything from where sun comes from to the creative process. But myths are dangerous because they’re often not true, or at least are half-true. So it is with the myths surrounding creativity. They help us explain a little bit, but because they aren’t totally true, believing the myths in entirety can actually limit our ability to express our creativity. If we question them, find the truth, and rewrite them, then we stand a better chance of reaching our full potential.

3DCoverWileyYou are rewriting and busting these myths, but they are legendary in some ways because we love them.  That “falling apple” moment or “lightning strike.”  Why do we love these stories?

I think we tell a lot of these stories because they let us off the hook. If some outside force, a fallen apple or a lightning strike, is responsible for our creative insight, then the pressure is taken off us to generate great ideas. But creativity doesn’t come from outside ourselves, it comes from inside and from thought patterns we’re all capable of, as long as we believe we are capable of them.

Your new book The Myths of Creativity outlines ten creative myths.  Let’s walk through a few of these myths. Starting with the Expert Myth, aren’t trained experts the best source for creative solutions to dire problems?

Creativity doesn’t just love constraints, it thrives under them. David Burkus

Not always. In fact the research shows that many times professionals in a given field reach a peak early or mid-way through their career and then their contribution to the domain lessens. In Physics for example, it’s commonly held that PhDs will make their greatest discoveries before the age of 30. (Einstein was 26 when he published the paper that won him a Nobel Prize.) The reason is that expertise is important, but truly creative ideas often come from people on the fringes of a domain. They have enough experience to understand problems, but don’t have enough experience to write off “crazy” ideas without testing them. They don’t know what won’t work; so they try everything. The lesson is to keep learning and gaining experience in a variety of domains because you never know what field your breakthrough insight will come from.

Let’s talk about The Constraints Myth.  You write “constraints shape our creative pursuits.”  Give an example of how constraints encourage creativity.

We tend to assume that when we’re having trouble coming up with a viable solution to a creative problem, it’s because we’re too constrained. In reality, constraints actually help us find solutions. It’s impossible to solve a problem without understanding the structure around it. We can generate lots of wild ideas, but without the constraints of a problem, we’ll never know if those ideas are also useful. That’s why a lot of companies actually force constraints. Companies like 37Signals mandate small project teams and put limits on the amount of features their products can have. And it’s paying off for them. Creativity doesn’t just love constraints, it thrives under them. It’s like G.K. Chesterton suggested,  “Art consists of limitation. The most beautiful part of every picture is the frame.”

How Body Language Can Define a Leader

Photo courtesy of istockphoto/AjFilGud

This is a guest post by Erin Schwartz. Erin is responsible for marketing and social media programs at www.123Print.com, a destination site for office supplies like business cards, labels, and other supplies.

In a tough market, job applicants must take every available opportunity to stand out to employers. In addition, in the business world, first impressions can be crucial in forming relationships.

Research suggests that as much as 93% of our opinion about other people is established within the first five minutes of meeting them

Unfortunately, a person’s body language can make him stand out in an unintended negative way. The statistics vary, but some research suggests that as much as 93 percent of our opinion about other people is established within the first five minutes of meeting them. And body language can play a huge part in creating those initial perceptions. Are you a confident and capable leader? Or are you conveying the image of a lazy person who will always require prompting (and could easily be walked upon if put in a management position)?

Think about how others may interpret these aspects of your body language:

Making an Entrance

Interviewing experts caution that the assessment of job candidates often begins before they enter the interview room. Convey confidence by entering situations with your back straight and your shoulders back. Offer a firm handshake with a smile that conveys self-confidence and trust.

Be Organized

In business dealings, body language that reveals nervous energy can help give the other side the upper hand. Therefore, make sure any materials you have with you are carefully organized so you don’t fumble around during a meeting.

Posture

Sitting with an upright, straight posture will convey more internal strength than leaning back in your chair, unless the situation is a relaxed or informal meeting with coworkers you’re comfortable with. In contrast, leaning forward too much can make one seem overly eager and can make others feel uncomfortable in a one-on-one situation.

Photo by Dreaming in the deep south on flickr. Photo by Dreaming in the deep south on flickr.

How to Ace the Interview and Win the Job

Paul Freiberger knows the job search process from all angles. He worked as a cook, a janitor, a night porter, and a garment worker.  He’s been a language teacher, a newspaper reporter and an author.  He’s an inventor and a corporate communications professional.  With that background Paul decided to focus on career coaching, outplacement, and resume writing.

He’s just written a new book about interviewing, and it’s a practical guide to the job interviewing process.  It’s especially helpful for both new graduates starting in a challenging job market and for almost anyone in the midst of looking for a job.

I recently had the chance to ask Paul a few questions about his new book, When Can You Start?  How to Ace the Interview and Win the Job.

 

Tips for the Interview

Paul, I’ve written (okay, maybe it was a bit of a rant) about resumes before.  You are an expert on resumes, but also on the interview.

WCYS CoverEveryone knows an interview is about qualifications.  But, it’s more than that.  One of the questions on an interviewer’s mind is never asked, but it’s always lurking in the background.  You call it out:  “Will we enjoy working with you?”  How do you help make yourself likeable?

Call on your First Date 101 skills. Be open. Smile. Don’t do all the talking and show your curiosity with some good questions.  

What’s an informational interview?

These are fact-gathering meetings with experienced individuals in a field designed to help you understand an industry. These are learning and networking opportunities.

What’s changed about phone interviews today?

Their frequency. Phone screens have become a commonplace interview and if you don’t know how to handle them, you may get eliminated before you get an in-person interview.

How do you use LinkedIn to improve your chances?

Move TO your future not AWAY from your past

Photo by Fellowship of the Rich on flickr.

People seem to be motivated by one of two forces.  Either toward or against.

Both can be equally powerful motivators, but one seems to last.

Why are you in motion?

When I interview people for a job, I often ask questions about how the individual made career decisions.  Some job changes were motivated by moving AWAY from something—a bad boss, a negative work environment, low pay.  Other people make a change to move TOWARD something—a new opportunity, the ability to make a bigger impact, a better use of talent.

Though it’s not scientific validation, I’ve found that the people moving TOWARD the new opportunity are more successful, happier, and continue on an upward career path.  These people are energized by the future, by what’s to come, by what’s possible.

Contrast that with the people moving AWAY from a job.  It seems that the very same things that they didn’t like about the one job magically seemed to follow them to the next!

Moving TOWARD is more powerful than moving AWAY.

Leadership Lessons from Over 50 Thought Leaders

People + Books = 1 Changed Life

 

Charlie “Tremendous” Jones was one of my great influencers.  He repeatedly said that, “You will be the same person you are today in five years but for two things:  the people you meet and the books you read.” Every year, I am privileged to have the opportunity to read so many incredible books and meet fascinating people from all walks of life.

Last year, I launched this blog with the idea of sharing insights, ideas, and inspiration from many sources. On the one hand, I’m disappointed that I was only able to share a fraction of all of the people who influenced me. On the other, I’m glad that I started doing it because now, as I look back on it, I’m the one who benefited the most. Charlie was right. All of the books I read and all of the people I met did indeed change me.

Here are a few of the people who shared their experience and wisdom. If I can learn a fraction of what they know, I will be better equipped to lead in the coming year.

Before you start the new year, take the time to meet some of these people and take their leadership lessons with you. Instead of “interview in progress” you will find a “great life in progress.”

Leadership, News & Politics

 

Dan Rather (his life in the news)

Condoleezza Rice (former Secretary of State)

Barbara Simons (on the dangers of new ballot machines)

Senator Bill Bradley (on how we can all do better)

 

Business Leadership, Strategy & Execution

 

John Baldoni (purpose, leadership)

Jill Geisler (Make Work Happy)

Tony Hsieh (CEO of Zappos on culture)

Cynthia Montgomery (strategist)

Jim Huling (on the 4 disciplines of execution)

Geoffrey Moore (how to cross the chasm and rethink the future)

Faisal Hoque (BTM CEO on the power of convergence)

Chris Grivas (which creative style are you?)

Shep Hyken (7 strategies of amazing customer service)