Have you ever wondered how creativity works? Or how you could be more creative in your own life or business? In a recent Live Inspired podcast, John O’Leary chatted with none other than BigSpeak’s keynote speaker on creativity and innovation Natalie Nixon to find out.
Natalie Nixon is a thought leader in the field of innovation. She has done extensive study on innovation and improvisational organization while completing her Ph.D., working as a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, writing for Inc. magazine, and being president and founder of her consulting firm Figure 8 Thinking. As a consultant, Nixon advises leaders on leveraging creativity as an innovation resource to rapidly achieve priority business goals.
In the podcast, Nixon gave three suggestions on how we could all be more creative in our lives.
Curiosity is the key to jump-starting your creativity, according to Nixon. In life, we have an ebb and flow between our intuition and insights. The road to creation doesn’t happen in a straight line.
So let yourself be curious and ask questions. In life, we’ve been conditioned by our schools to associate question asking with ignorance. You only ask if you don’t know and if you don’t know you’re not smart. But asking questions is actually the key to how we learn more and create more.
Ask better questions
In order to be more creative, you need to ask the right questions. Nixon points to Warren Burger’s book A More Beautiful Question, as a source for asking better questions.
From the book, she takes these three questions. 1) Ask “Why?” In your business, don’t be afraid to ask why you do something a certain way. There may be a good reason or maybe not, but you won’t know until you ask. 2) After you find out why you do things a certain way, go a step further and ask “What if?” to look at alternative ways of doing things. 3) Finally, make something new happen. Ask “How could we do this?” to develop a process for creating new things.
Pay attention to wonder and rigor
Nixon said creativity is a combination of wonder and rigor. It’s not just about the sudden bolt of inspiration. On one side is wonder. Wonder is about dreaming, about being audacious, and feeling free to try new things. Rigor, on the other hand, is about discipline, time on task, and deep skill. But we need both to be creative.
In education, Nixon said many teachers put too much emphasis on rigor and not enough time on wonder. In school, we were taught how to follow the rules—but not how to break them. We were trained to be good clerks and managers, but not to be entrepreneurs and artists.
That’s not to say rigor is bad. You need rigor to be creative. You need to spend hours practicing scales and learning all the chords before you can start improvising like a jazz musician. And in sport, you need to drill and exercise every day in order to make amazing shots.
So put in the work and sweat. But also question things. This will give you the opportunity to challenge the system and develop creative ideas.
To learn more about how your business can innovate, contact BigSpeak Speakers Bureau to book Natalie Nixon for your next event.
Kyle Crocco is the Content Marketing Coordinator at BigSpeak Speakers Bureau, a graduate of UC Santa Barbara, and the lead singer of Duh Professors. He regularly publishes business book reviews and thought articles on Medium, Business 2 Community, and Born 2 Invest.