By Jeff Beals
Back in 1866, a 19-year-old man in Louisville, Kentucky purposely requested the overnight shift when he accepted a new job working on the Associated Press news wire. The typically quiet wee hours of the morning allowed him plenty of time to do what he truly enjoyed: reading, imagining and testing his new ideas.
One evening he got a little carried away. The curious young man was working with a lead-acid battery when he spilled sulfuric acid onto the floor. It ran between the floorboards and onto the boss’s desk downstairs. The next morning he was promptly terminated.
In retrospect, the whole world should be thankful he was fired, for that young man was Thomas Edison, who would go on to become one of the world’s most prolific inventors. Few people in history have done more to improve the human condition.
Edison’s creativity earned him a personal fortune and helped turn America into a world power. While creativity was important in the 19th Century, it’s immeasurably more important in today’s complex, global economy. Have you ever thought about how you could achieve more success by leveraging your creative abilities?
To help you get your creative juices flowing, here are my “Top 10 Ways to Be More Creative”:
1. Curiously explore your world – creative people never stop asking questions.
2. Be a well-rounded generalist – even if you have a specialized job, learn about other professions and avocations. Keep up-to-date with the world around you.
3. Spend time with someone from outside your industry – imagine how that industry’s practices can be transferred to yours.
4. Exercise & eat a healthy diet – releasing those endorphins helps you conjure up new ideas while good nutrition keeps your brain healthy.
5. Mentally exercise – puzzles, quizzes, games and mind-mapping help you condition your brain for idea formulation.
6. Do something artistic – this is especially important if you work in a technical, analytical or highly quantitative field.
7. Fear only fear itself – consider your risks to be opportunities. Many of the world’s most successful people have failed before getting it right.
8. Tolerate ambiguity – if your life is too administered and oppressively structured, you are less likely to encounter an “aha” moment.
9. Avoid anti-creativity traps – group-think and excessive rationalization kill creativity.
10. Use props – when trying to come up with new ideas, randomly gather a handful of physical objects and imagine how they could relate to your problem or question. Write down your ideas – even the silly ones. After a while, you just might come up with the perfect solution.
The Hungarian-born, Nobel Prize-winning scientist Albert Szent-Gyorgyi once said, “Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.” Now is the time to look at YOUR business/job/life and start thinking what nobody else has thought.
 Baldwin, Neal (1995). Edison: Inventing the Century. Hyperion.
You are welcome to forward this article (with author citation) to friends, colleagues, clients or anyone else who might benefit from it.
- “Self Marketing Power: Branding Yourself as a Business of One”
- “Tons of Room at the Top: the Attitude of Success”
- “National Signing Day: What All Professionals Can Learn from College Football”