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The Importance of Persistence When it Comes to Creativity

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No matter what your business is, or what stage you are at, you need creativity. Without it, you won’t be able to disrupt your industry, create new ideas, push your business forward and blow your competitors away.

However sometimes, it’s a lot easier said than done. Being ‘creative’ and coming up with ‘new ideas’ can be as trying as, well, trying to run a business.

Sometimes though, in those moments of complete and utter annoyance, on the verge of giving up, is EXACTLY when you have to PUSH THROUGH.

This persistence is where you will gain some of your greatest creative ideas from. Here’s why.

The Creative Challenge:
Commonly, when trying to come up with creative ideas we get ‘stuck’ and this is the headspace that we believe we are not going to get any good ideas from.

Adam Grant, Organisational Psychologist at The University of Pennsylvania, believes that it is in these exact moments that we experience discomfort when our fresh, original thinking really begins to happen.

“The first ideas that you think of tend to be the most conventional or the most obvious.”

Which is why we have to push well past the first couple of ideas that we come up with.

How do we do that?

When you develop that initial idea, step away from it completely and challenge yourself to come up with 15 other ideas. Make yourself, even if you believe the ideas you come up with are no good at all, write them down, get to 15. It is in this space that we start to pull our most creative material.

The biggest challenge here is that we immediately restrict ourselves, making this challenge that much harder because we convince ourselves that we can’t think of anything and are ‘stuck’.

Remember that it is your belief that is restricting you, it is not your ability.

This is evident in a study led by the University of Chicago Psychologist Brian Lucas, with the title “People Underestimate the Value of Persistence for Creative Performance”.

Lucas and his colleagues asked 24 University students to take ten minutes brainstorming as many Thanksgiving dinner dishes as possible. Then the students were asked how many more dishes they could come up with if they were given ten more minutes.

On average, it was estimated that the students would come up with ten more ideas … They came up with 15.

People constantly underestimate what they have the ability to think of, immediately limiting themselves.

It comes back to the often sung entrepreneurial song of not being afraid of failure.

When people have creative ideas that they believe are not good enough to share with others they won’t. The problem with this is, you never know what will help spark an idea in someone else.

If you believe it’s an idea that wouldn’t work, someone else in your team might know exactly how to make it work, or while maybe not following that idea, have it remind them of another idea that would work.

Remember the greats:
It’s something that is often forgotten about when we are in our daily hustle and grind, but the greatest creatives all had their masterpiece noticed by coming up with hundreds of ideas and piece of work that at first wasn’t noticed.

Walt Disney was making cartoons for almost 20 years before he made it big with “Snow White and The Seven Dwarves.”

Thomas Edison’s most well know quote “I haven’t failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work” is another testament to this.

Creativity happens after you have experimented. Once you have ruled out and eliminated the stuff that was familiar is when you start to come up with the things you haven’t seen before.

Push your creative self forward:
Brian J. Lucas and Loran Nordgren have two main recommendations to help make sure your creative potential doesn’t go untapped.

1. Ignore your first instinct to stop.
When working on a tough creative challenge, you will likely face a moment when you feel stuck and can’t come up with any more ideas. You’ll first want to quit and spend your time doing something else.

Temporarily ignore this instinct, especially if you’re still in the early stages of the work. Try to generate just a few more ideas, or consider just a few more alternatives. You may find that your next creative idea was closer than you imagined.

2. Remember that creative problems are supposed to feel difficult.
Most involve setbacks, failures, and that “stuck” feeling. It’s part of the process. Suppress your instinct to interpret these feelings as a signal that you just aren’t creative or that you’ve run out of good ideas. Reaching your creative potential often takes time, and persistence is critical for seeing a challenge through to the end.

Put these into practice the next time you need to do some brainstorming around your business, and see what ideas start to flow.

We would love to know how you go in the comments below!

About The Entourage

The Entourage is Australia’s largest educator and community of entrepreneurs with over 100,000 members around the world.

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