Everywhere you look there are articles and books about becoming more creative, expanding your organization’s culture to become more innovative, and leading change rather than reacting to it. We’re all for greater creativity and innovation. Unfortunately, the current approach of many individuals and organizations leaves them disappointed and in a state of constant reactivity.
Often, leaders treat creativity and innovation like they are either a box to check on a to-do list or something to do once a year at a retreat. We understand the tendency but what we know is that creativity and innovation are ways of being in the world—not an activity to engage in from time to time.
Take a moment to reflect on this quote:
“Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.”
— Erich Fromm
Humans prefer certainties. And it makes sense that we do—it’s in our wiring as a way to ensure our survival. But in our current lives, most of us don’t need certainty to ensure we’ll survive. In fact, certainty, in many situations will ensure a staleness and sameness that kills both creativity and innovation.
The people and organizations that are most creative and innovative are filled with individuals who are curious. They are curious about what others think, they are curious about the world beyond the U.S., they are curious about what technology can solve, and they are curious about how something can be done more quickly. They are curious.
This week, we’d like you to observe yourself and notice those times when you are certain and see if you can shift to a more curious mindset. A practice of curiosity will expand your creativity and create a more innovative culture in your organization.
- When you walk into your workplace, be curious about what it looks like at that time of day, who is around, what are they doing, what’s changed over the past days, weeks, months… be curious about the simple things.
- When you are in a conversation with your spouse or kid and you find that you are certain you know what they think, get curious about what they actually think, go further in the conversation, and when they finish speaking ask if they’d be willing to say more about whatever it was they said—then listen carefully and with curiosity.
- When you are driving to work or home from work, be curious about traffic patterns, where do things slow down and where do they speed up—just notice.
Start cultivating your curiosity now and before too long you will find that you are thinking in ways that are more creative and approaching problems with greater innovation.