What Successful People Do Daily (Hint: See picture at left)
Creativity is a long sought-after golden prize. Creativity can be a fountain-of-youth for a career, a muse providing perpetual inspiration, and a renewable, sustainable resource. Everyone loves to garner creativity.
But being creative is so much harder than it looks, isn’t it?
I mean, the level of creativity we see today….those Pixar films (wow!), the latest song you heard on Pandora, the art you saw last weekend at a folk festival, the new app you just downloaded…We all want to have the kind of ability and talent to just call up creativity and have it delivered to our gray matter on a proverbial platter, right?
Daniel Goleman, the author of Emotional Intelligence and Ecological Intelligence, among his many geniuses, has a few things to say about creativity, focus, and the contributions that emotional intelligence lends to leadership. His new book, Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence, underscores the importance of stepping away from the computer on a regular basis – away from all technology actually – and just. Doing. Nothing.
The take-home message is – Everyone needs a mental break, a brain decompression, a moment to empty their brain and just flatline their thinking.
But in order to stoke your creative embers, you also need one more variable: mindfulness. Some call it consciousness, or awareness; and in the medical field it can even be mistaken for proprioception, or the knowledge of where the body is in space. But mindfulness, whatever it’s latest moniker, is pretty darn important in the world of creativity and innovation.
Wanna Be Innovative?
I can’t really speak to being a superstar of innovation. I’ve spun my wheels on many occasions and over the course of many years, spending decades working on ideas for improving health care in the US. Some of the ideas were accidental (aka oops! The idea worked but I’d rather not spend my savings doing it.), while some ideas were intentionally humanitarian (projects for Afghan and Haitian women’s health). And some have been long-winded projects that, through dogged persistence, have finally begun to yield a harvest.
I can say that in my experience, innovation that is sustainable, is built through people investment (that is to say, relationship and partnership). See my post on Caring Health Care = Caring Economics. Whether building an idea that is for-profit or non-profit, there are distinct habits that anyone can recognize as contributing to one’s creative potential. Here is a succinct list, some things (minus the breakfast one) which I have practiced (on and off, try and try again) for the last 20 years. 6 Things Successful People Do Before 9 A.M.
What do you want to create?
The drive to be innovative and contribute something significant to my profession and field is why I love to constantly learn new things. My latest adventure, with a BIG thanks to a local teacher’s patience (and courage!) to teach me, is taking up the violin. If you want to know what music can do for your creative prowess, read Daniel Levitin’s This is Your Brain on Music. Or, read some past posts on music for women’s health, birth, and more.
When I am feeling a “writer’s block” coming own – I dig my hands into new tasks while allowing for that technology decompression (aka put. down. the laptop. and. smartphone.) To maximize our creative potential, Goleman challenges us all to do this on a regular basis.
Building Creative Potential
But being creative is not just about business endeavors. Being creative also depends on, and is driven by, your health and well-being. The eternal pursuit of creativity, improvement, and health is also why I always try to exercise and meditate before my day starts. I hope to extend that good practice to my own three sons by making mindful exercise (read: yoga) part of regular family fun.
For me, this doesn’t mean just doing yoga on a mat. Yoga can be a mindful walk, a long hike, a swim in the ocean or river, or spending time in, or reflecting on, nature. I also go a step farther and use the principles of yoga to strengthen my family’s own spiritual belief and grounding. Being mindful, in other words, makes a body and mind stronger. No matter what your spiritual beliefs, yoga is for all folks and all faiths. There are many ways to develop creativity through mindfulness, but here is a list to get you started: All of the 6 things on this list can be important, but what from this list works for you? 6 Things Successful People Do Before 9 A.M.
Best of luck in your creative endeavors, and I would love to hear what helps you maximize focus for being creative!