Entrepreneurs have to be a bottomless pit of creativity, don’t they? Not only do we have to dream up big ideas, we also have to innovate new ways of executing them. And the sheer number of hours it takes to build a successful business can also lead to creative burnout, which is, of course, counter-intuitive.
“Creativity is a process that you can’t force,” says Molly Reynolds, cofounder and host of The Unicorn in the Room. “You have to know it’s a process and respect that process. But there are certainly some ways to set yourself up for success.”
Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Reynolds was a professional musical theatre actor and continues to study dance and fine art in her spare time. Her love of the creative process spurred the creation of The Unicorn in the Room, an online resource for entrepreneurs.
Having interviewed business icons, such as Arianna Huffington and John Paul Dejoria, as well as top executives from GE, PwC, Forbes, Chobani and Heineken, Reynolds has identified these key ways to top business minds stay creative.
Here they are, in no particular order:
1Buy an alarm clock
Rest is a crucial part of the creative process and as Arianna Huffington will tell you, keeping your cell phone next to your bed while you sleep is a bad thing. According to a study by Pew Research Center, 44 percent of cell phone owners keep their favorite handheld next to them as they sleep to make sure they don’t miss an important call. But this is an extremely unhealthy habit to get into.
“So many people tell me they’ve got creative burnout, and almost all of them check their emails before they go to bed, first thing when they wake up, and yes, even in the middle of the night,” says Reynolds. “I used to do it too and the longer term effects are never good.”
Cellphones, TVs, tablets and other gadgets with LED screens all emit blue light that can inhibit our production of the sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin. The blue light can also trick our bodies into thinking that it’s daylight and interfere with our sleep cycles. Worse than that? An overheating cellphone in your bed could even set your pillow on fire!
People will use the excuse that they need their phone as an alarm clock. Newsflash: you can buy an alarm clock that is not a smartphone. Avoid bouts of insomnia and house fires by keeping your cell phone out of your bedroom.
2Get a variety of perspectives
Do you know why The Challenger mission failed? Lack of diverse thinking. While many reports have placed the blame on technical fault and cold weather, others suggest that the disaster could have been avoided. The engineering team was used to receiving orders from the top down. Despite being aware of the potential dangers, they went ahead and cleared the spacecraft for launch. The management team at NASA simply would not allow room for different perspectives or opinions.
GE is a company that is more than 100 years old, and the executives there are still learning so that they can continue innovating. In fact, they hold leadership summits, where they invite in a wide variety of companies and share their best practices.
With a culture of constant learning, GE wanted to see what they could learn from Silicon Valley culture. So, they partnered with author of The Lean Startup, Eric Ries, to see how they could build innovation and fast work into their company core. Being open to change and new ideas is essential for companies to remain competitive and creative in shifting environments.
Related: Strategic Creativity Drives Growth
There’s nothing like taking a timeout to get your creative juices flowing. Travel broadens the mind and exposes you to new and unfamiliar situations. You get to sample local cuisine, find out about different cultures and maybe even learn a language. All these experiences translate into enhanced problem solving skills and the ability to think creatively on your feet.
You might think that taking a sabbatical year to study Spanish in Barcelona or backpack around Southeast Asia is just an excuse for a time off. But there can be surprising benefits from taking yourself outside of your situation.
It might even become the catalyst for new success. Winston Chen decided to invent an app, just to have some fun while he was traveling. It turned out to be the start of his new career and company, voice-based mobile app, Voice Dream.
4Step away from the desk
“Getting a Fitbit actually made me a better problem solver,” Reynolds says.
“Before, I’d sit at my desk for hours trying to figure something out, but the thing buzzes me and makes me take a break to walk. Inevitably, as I’m walking, I figure out the problem more quickly.”
Do you know one of the least inspirational places for people to come up with creative solutions? The meeting room! That’s because we often need to get up and mobilize our bodies to get unblock our creativity. Steve Jobs was well known for his walking meetings, and Mark Zuckerberg reportedly likes to meet standing up as well.
There’s actually some science to back this up. Researchers at Stanford revealed that bursts of walking, whether indoors or outdoors, can help to boost our creative inspiration. So, when you come up against a case of writer’s block, or you simply feel like you’re staring into an abyss instead of your computer screen, get up and get moving!
5Draw your strategy
That’s right, draw your strategy. Don’t write it. This will cause your mind to think differently, which is a great way to shake up creativity. Expert on visual thinking, Dan Roam, worked as a consultant for some of the world’s largest companies, including Google, Sun Microsystems and eBay. He believes that one of the best ways to help people solve problems and contribute new ideas is by drawing them out.
In an interview with Business Insider, he said “taking advantage of our innate ability to see – both with our eyes and with our mind’s eye – in order to discover ideas that are otherwise invisible, develop those ideas quickly and intuitively, and then share those ideas with other people in a way they simply ‘get.’”
Lastly, says Reynolds, if you’re really committed to improving your creative mind in every one of these five steps, you need to allow yourself to get vulnerable. “Take a class that you would never think of taking, charcoal drawing, samurai sword fighting, tap dancing, whatever! You might feel ridiculous at first, and that’s a good thing. Having that vulnerability will remind you that you don’t have all of the answers and need to be open.”
According to David Brendel, of the Harvard Business Review, vulnerability can actually make you stronger. Things like apologising for errors, admitting when you’re wrong, or seeking help from others can all make you a better leader. When you allow yourself to be in a position where you’re learning something new, you leave yourself vulnerable to criticism and failure. Yet this learning process is all part of improving your creative mind and ongoing education.
So, watch your sleeping habits, and make sure you take breaks from your desk to leave room for inspiration to come through. Be open to travel, culture and new ideas, as well as using visual thinking. Do all that with a dose of vulnerability and an enquiring mind, and you’ll give yourself the innovation makeover you desperately seek.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
21 Inspiring Quotes About Success, Persistence And What It Means To Be An Entrepreneur
Leaders of companies big and small share the mindset it takes to achieve your dreams in the face of all obstacles.
True, being an entrepreneur can be exhausting, lonely, frustrating and terrifying. But it’s worth every drop of blood, sweat and tears when you are pursuing your passion, turning your dream into a reality.
In an ongoing series called Real Entrepreneurs, we pick the brains of founders and leaders about what it is like to have every decision big and small rest on their shoulders and have compiled their thoughts on what it takes to succeed on the long, sometimes crazy journey of an entrepreneur.
The Mindset Strategy From The “Rock Star” Coach Can Turn Your Beliefs Into Results
William Badenhorst, a Director of Global Strengths shares his mindset secret to ongoing entrepreneurial success.
William Badenhorst, a Director of Global Strengths, is a coach to the coaches. His “Rock Star” attitude along with the deep driving desire to help others find their true selves formed the fabric of a highly interesting and entertaining interview.
The rolling thunder of his voice brought forth quote after quote, quip after quip and wisdom after wisdom. As a “peak performance coach” to professional athletes, celebrities, entrepreneurs and corporate career orientated individuals, William believes that knowing who you truly are as an individual is the catalyst for lasting growth and useful change in business and in life in general.
His intense eyes and energetic hand gestures emphasized one of his core beliefs and that is that we all are nothing but our very own beliefs.
“Everyone is focused on Results”
Everyone is always focusing on the outcome – the results they want. But what creates results? Let’s do some reverse engineering. In order to achieve RESULTS we need to take ACTION. And in order to take ACTION we need to make a DECISION. To make a DECISION, we need to think about it – THOUGHTS.
The interesting thing about humans is that we do not create our thoughts, we can only control them. So what does create your thoughts? Your BELIEFS creates your THOUGHTS. So ultimately your BELIEFS creates your RESULTS.
“You don’t attract what you want, you attract what you are.”
It is our very own limiting beliefs, such as for example that “I am not good enough” and “I am not deserving” and “I’m not worthy ” that creates barriers to our own success in entrepreneurial ventures and in our lives. In order to reach our limitless potential we must find and remove the self-created barriers that hold us back.
Although he loves the interaction and benefits of social media he is quick to point out that it also has created a fantasy of who and what we should be. He advises to not to adopt such fantasy as your desired reality but to instead be who you really are as an individual and goes on to quote the famous Greek philosopher Socrates:
“Know thyself, Be thyself and Love thyself”
You always end up falling back on your beliefs -whether they are empowering or disempowering. The challenge with that is that a large number of your beliefs are unconscious especially when you have not put in the work to find out what your belief system truly is.
Through his vast experience as a coach he realized that a large number of people veer away from self-awareness as they are afraid of being judged for whom they truly are.
The conversation naturally evolved into the exploration of the true meaning of the concept of faith and William’s mind grasped at a Quote from the apostle Paul:
“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”
He went on to explain that faith is evidence of true-self which creates certainty which in turn is equal to confidence. Confidence brings a certain state where everything flows. He calls it “Peak State”. He further advises to search for evidence of who you really are and gain belief in yourself.
Advice to young entrepreneurs
William’s thoughts on self-development for entrepreneurs are to get a Coach. If you are already in business and don’t have a Coach – get one! Begin with taking extreme ownership and responsibility of everything in your life. And when you do that you win.
Stop blaming everything and everyone around you. Stop complaining about circumstances. You are in control and it is up to you to make it happen. There are no un-resourceful people, there are only un-resourceful states. Go where you are celebrated not tolerated and love yourself unconditionally. Remove the very unrealistic expectations of what and who you should be and authentically be yourself. Believe in yourself and go all in on YOU!
Become the best form of yourself because as an entrepreneur you are the business. Play to your strengths and manage your weaknesses. You do not need a title to lead, have massive self-belief and others will follow.
Have an attitude of constant learning:
“If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room”
And then yet another quote rolled off his tongue that put me in a self-reflective mood:
“A person that shines from within does not need a spotlight”
William Badenhorst, the father, the coach, the entrepreneur and key note speaker left the author and the reader with a question of mesmerising depth:
“What if you woke up this morning with only the things that you were grateful for last night?”
Gratitude is everything!
How You Can Move From Your Potential To Your Purpose
“Value isn’t in opinion, it’s in perspective” – Wes Boshoff
Let’s face it, we all know that when wanting to achieve something different, you need to do something different. The challenge isn’t in wanting the different, it’s in doing the different!
Mark Twain said, “The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why”.
I love that because it highlights the importance of knowing that you have a purpose, and that you need to find it or design it, then live it, love it and look after it.
You have heard it said or said it yourself…”that person has huge potential, if only they would…”. It’s great to have potential but potential doesn’t equate to purpose. They are like elastics, just sitting there on the desk, and it’s not much good to anyone just sitting there. You see there is a gap between potential and purpose and that gap is called ‘The Stretch’.
For that elastic to move from potential to purpose it needs to be stretched, and only once its stretched and put round a bunch of pens does that elastic really move into its purpose. We are a lot like elastics, we need to be stretched to move from potential to purpose. The stretch isn’t always easy because we tend to get twisted out of shape when we need to do something different. However, the stretch is not designed to change who we are, just change how we are.
Here are a few ideas to help you in The Stretch.
Think about what you think about – it’s all in your perspective
Things are achieved or not achieved depending on how we think about them. Do you focus on the obstacles or the opportunities? It’s easy to see the obstacles, the key is to choose which one you going to focus on. Obstacles will always get in the way of opportunities if you let them. So, remain attentive to the possibilities that opportunity brings.
That means you need to position yourself in the way of opportunity, get in its way – make something happen, don’t just sit there! There’s a catch to this one though, opportunity never travels alone, it always comes with responsibility. Do you have the ability to respond to the opportunity? Are you taking responsibility, often we are given it, but we don’t really take it! You need to take and own the responsibility to maximise the opportunity!
Beware of distraction
‘Dis’ – a prefix meaning reversal, or the absence of action and traction refers to grip. When you get distracted you lose grip and that’s dangerous. Imagine driving, suddenly, you’ve lost traction, you are heading in the wrong direction, you may even end up going backwards.
Make sure you stick to what you need to do, create daily productive habits that will help you achieve in the long term. Grow your capacity and increase your footprint. Gain traction by repeating what works for you, that way your practice becomes repeatable and your brand becomes reputable. Don’t stop moving, its easier to change direction while you are still moving, than it is to start moving.
Things don’t always work out
Employ the “What’s Wrong – What’s Next?” philosophy. When things go wrong with people, products or plans, we can get caught up in drama. There’s no time for drama, simply define what went wrong and decide what needs to be done next to fix it. Once fixed, then deal with the doer of the wrong, but deal with them in the right way too…you still don’t need drama!
“Value isn’t in opinion, it’s in perspective” – Wes Boshoff
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