Everyone wants to become more creative, but few know how to become more creative. The best way to become a creative person is to do, think, and act like a highly creative person would. Below are some personality traits and characteristics common to highly creative individuals:
Highly creative people generate many news ideas
Without new ideas, there is no creativity. The best way to have a great idea is to have many new ideas. Creative individuals are skilled at “divergent thinking”. This involves suspending judgment (temporarily) and cranking out ideas at full-throttle. In a short amount of time, a creative person can create a list of potential ideas that they will review and evaluate at a later stage.
One of the ways I generate ideas is by pulling at a note pad, and writing three different questions regarding a current problem or challenge. I then try to fill out at least one sheet full of ideas in response to the questions. If I am not happy with the ideas, I will try three more questions and fill up a second sheet. I will almost always have a break-through idea by the second try.
Highly creative people experiment and play with ideas
Creative individuals love to joke, play, and tease. A joyful, playful personality and attitude is important because taking things too seriously stifles creativity. Why? Creativity often requires you to break rules and loosen assumptions. It is awfully hard to do that when you are in a room full of people that love to say “we can’t do that here!” Playfulness provides a degree of psychological freedom to try new things, which supports risk-taking and the adoption of a diversity of perspectives. Having playful friends and family is a great way to develop creativity.
I try to incorporate playfulness into my life in many ways. First, I love to play board games (especially strategy games) because they increase my capacity for strategic thinking (enhancing my ability to ask penetrating, perspective-changing questions). Second, I try not to take myself or others too seriously. Thirdly, I try to associate with interesting people, especially those who are not afraid to be themselves, even if that means being a little weird from time to time.
Highly creative people believe in their creativity
Highly creative individuals believe in their innate ability to be creative, often viewing their creativity as a God-given gift or talent. Creativity is a skill that is highly correlated with self-efficacy, meaning that a creative person has developed a strong belief that he or she is, in fact, creative. This makes sense in that if you believe you are creative, you give your permission to act in a creative fashion and thus, end up being creative. In contrast, if you believe you are not creative, you will avoid opportunities to use your creativity and thus act in accordance with your non-creative belief.
The most important way you can demonstrate your faith in your creative ability is simply by doing. I try to put this into practice by writing every week, even if it is just one posting on my creativity blog. Over time, my creative discipline has grown as I have become more productive and the quality of the output has improved.
Highly creative people violate conventions and break rules
Highly creative individuals have a low need for social approval and are willing to break or bend arbitrary social conventions and rules. “Rule-breaking” or “assumption loosening” involves determining what assumptions undergird a certain problem, and then systematically asking what would happen if a certain rule was violated. Often, there are good reasons for certain rules (“don’t touch a hot stove”), but now and then this process leads to a huge creative break-through (like an induction cooking surface that doesn’t get hot).
At first glance, you would not consider me to be a “rule-breaking” personality. I am a conservative person, introverted, and I am generally fairly quiet. However, my boss describes me as “a contrarian that you’d don’t might listening to.” I often have a very different take on things than many people. I try not to let conventional thinking (and thinkers) impede my search for finding a better way.