If you are feeling stressed or depressed about your business or the people you work with, summer is the perfect time to shake things up and dream up more creative solutions. Don’t forget that creativity is a vitally important business skill, according to noted creativity consultant, Juanita Weaver (www.juanitaweaver.com).
“A recent survey of CEOs asked them to identify the most important leadership skills,” said Weaver. “Creativity was rated the number one necessary skill. You can study creativity just as you would any other business skill.” (If you want advice on how to develop it, see the reading list below.)
She added: “Building a creatively agile company will help you lead the market, not follow it.”
Here are my favorite ways to inspire creativity. First, be open to new ideas by detaching from your electronic tethers — at least for a few hours.
1. Visit a museum: The word museum is related to the word muse. The definition of a muse is a “guiding spirit or a source of inspiration,” which is exactly what every entrepreneur needs.
Last week, I spent four hours wandering around the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Sipping a cup of coffee next to my favorite sculpture gallery, I vowed to be completely open to experiencing whatever caught my eye.
My time in the museum was inspiring. I thought about the new book I’m writing. I dreamed up new video clips to write and produce for my 201greatideas.com website. I thought about the projects I’m doing for my clients. I left the Met feeling relaxed, refreshed and ready to work.
2. Get a massage: There’s something very freeing and inspiring about lying in a quiet, dimly-lit room and experiencing a professional, therapeutic massage. Massage is not only good for your muscles, but great for relaxing your mind. By being forced to do nothing for an hour or so, your mind is free to let thoughts float in and out. (A bath or leisurely shower is also great for thinking).
3. Read a magazine you’ve never read before: This may sound weird, but drift into a bookstore or stop at a newsstand and buy a magazine on a topic you know nothing about. (Don’t read a magazine online). If you are a tech-head, buy a magazine about wood-working, landscape design or NASCAR racing. If you’ve never been on a boat, read Yachting. Just flipping through a magazine and looking at the photos is relaxing. It will slow down your thoughts and fill your head with new ideas.
4. Learn to meditate: Meditation is not a religious practice. There are many meditation techniques, but here’s a simple one: sit in a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted. Take off your shoes and get comfortable. Shut your eyes and slowly count backwards from ten to one, taking a deep, slow breath in when you think of the number. Let out your breath slowly. When you reach one, pick a two-syllable word and repeat it over and over in your mind — not aloud. It’s called a mantra.
The goal of meditation is to clear your mind of random thoughts. A zillion thoughts will edge their way into your mind — the dry cleaning you forgot to pick up, the dog poop in the yard, your kids’ summer schedule. Just keep drawing your thoughts back to your mantra and relax.
5. Take a walk or a hike: Being outdoors and away from your home or office gives you space to think about new things. It doesn’t matter whether you are walking around the duck pond in an urban park, or scaling a cliff overlooking a local beach. Just get outside and lock your phone in the car. Unless you are a trauma surgeon or one of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, life will go on if you can’t be reached for a few hours.
Juanita Weaver’s Reading List:
Creativity in Business, (based on the Stanford University course, by Michael Ray and Rochelle Myers)
Jump Start Your Brain, by Doug Hall
Thinkertoys, by Michael Michalko
A Whack on the Side of the Head, by Roger von Oech
The Art of Possibility, Transforming Professional and Personal Life, by Roasmund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander.
Jane Applegate is an expert on small business marketing. She is the author of 201 Great Ideas for Your Small Business and can be followed at http://201greatideas.com/. Jane is not a Pitney Bowes employee and shares her insights on this blog as a paid contributor.