Build Confidence in Your Ability to Think Creatively

Created: Wednesday, May 3, 2023, posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 10:00 am

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By Chris Thomason, Author of Freaky Thinking: Thinking that Delivers a Dazzling Difference

There are two records that are important to top athletes: the world record in their event and their personal best. Clearly, they want to see their personal best improving and getting ever closer to the world record.

Build Confidence in Your Ability
Image: Jump Story

The same applies to creative thinking. For example, you may admire people who can come up with great ideas for big issues and you want to have this same skill as them. And you can. You simply need to consistently improve your personal best in thinking about important issues. Here are ten tips to help you improve your personal best.

1. Choose excellence situations

While athletes do continuous fitness training, they don’t try to break their personal best record every day. They only attempt this on specific, optimal occasions – and it’s a similar situation with your thinking too. Decide which issues you face that are worthy of additional thinking effort and time to drive out some exceptional new ideas. You can’t be excellent all the time, so choose the situations or occasions where you want to excel.

2. Where you think best

Think where you are, and what you’re doing, when you come up with your best ideas. Are you in the shower? Out walking the dog? At the gym? Driving? Most people find they get their best ideas when they’re doing some kind of light activity, not when they’re at their desk at work, or when they’re sitting with a pad of paper waiting for ideas to come to them. Research has proven that performing some kind of undemanding task produces better thinking, so do some kind of activity when excellence in thinking is required.

3. When you think best

Professional artists, musicians, and writers need to know when they are at their most creative – that’s how they earn a living. Harry Potter author JK Rowling would write from 9 am to 3 pm while novelist Franz Kafka would do his best writing from 11 pm through the night to 6 am. When is your best creative thinking time? For example, are you a morning person or an evening person? There’s no point trying to do good thinking when you’re feeling tired. If you want to do powerful thinking, save it for the time of day when you believe you are at your most creative.

4. Your optimal time is precious

If you want to do your best thinking, try to combine your optimal time and place together. If it’s your early morning gym session or your evening dog walk, why not allocate that time to experiment with your thinking? Even book this peak-thinking time out in your calendar each day and use it as your thinking self-development time. Remember, this time is when you work on your special thinking project when you want to get some breakthrough ideas over and above your usual thinking. Save this optimal time for those thinking projects where your mental excellence is needed.

5. Have a focus

You need to have a focus on your thinking, which is the topic you want to address. This is called your killer question. This is an important, enduring question that hasn’t yet been answered well enough, and which will deliver significant value for you, either personally or as an organization. When your killer question is too big and over-encompassing to be handled in one go, you can deconstruct it into component parts, and think about these individually. When you have ideas that address each component, you integrate them together to form overall solutions to your killer question.

6. A repeatable process

It would be brilliant if great thinking and new ideas just happened – but they don’t. You must actively work your imagination to force useful, creative thoughts out. And to do this repeatedly, you need a process that works well for you, and which permits flexibility over time to make it even better for you. Without a process, you only have a semi-random set of events, which is hard to monitor if you are being successful or not.

There is a wide range of thinking tools and techniques readily available. One of them is Freaky Thinking, a process that boosts your preferred way of thinking to help you answer your killer questions such that the thinking process becomes second nature to you.

7. Incubate your ideas for tomorrow

Do you ever have a situation when there’s a seemingly irrelevant fact you can’t recall, like the title of a song or the name of someone you used to work with? So, you give up and forget about the question altogether, but hours or days later, the answer suddenly comes to you in a flash. This is your subconscious mind working on your unresolved issue in the background.

A similar thing happens when you pose a killer question you work on over several days. Even when you’re not actively thinking about the topic, your subconscious is working on it for you because you know you haven’t yet resolved it with a satisfactory answer. Each time you come back to it; your subconscious has advanced your thinking by finding a new perspective to consider or reinterpreting an element of it in some way. Each gap in your thinking encourages subconscious incubation – use this to great effect on your issue.

8. Find your Win Quicklies

Win Quicklies are ideas—or elements of your bigger idea—that can quickly test or prove an interesting part of your solution. Most organizations like to see a win quickly to prove that something much larger has the potential for success and value. Potentially, you’d like to see several Win Quicklies being implemented rather than one bigger, slower-moving project. Nothing boosts your confidence more than seeing one of your own ideas delivering value.

9. Part of your daily routine

If you’re allocating your optimal best place and time for your important thinking projects, and you find this daily thinking time to be an enjoyable experience, then block this time out in your diary or calendar as the most valuable part of your day.

In Mark Manson’s book Will, actor Will Smith credits his success as a Hollywood superstar to lessons from his father, who told him and his brother to build a long brick wall. His father said, “There is no wall. There are only bricks. Your job is to lay this brick perfectly. Then move on to the next brick. Then lay that brick perfectly. Then the next one. Don’t be worrying about no wall. Your only concern is one brick.” Your thinking exercises will be far more exciting than laying bricks, yet the same principle applies. Consistency of use will eventually build your wall of success. Just take it one brick at a time.

10. Boosting your creative confidence

Self-efficacy is your belief in your ability to attain a desired level of performance, and in relation to creative thinking, this is often referred to as creative confidence. If you have high self-efficacy, then you’re confident you can learn and perform a new task, such that even if problems arise in learning that task, you persevere through to success. If you have low self-efficacy, then you’ll have doubts about your ability to learn the task and will have a greater likelihood of giving up if difficulties arise, even small ones.

The more you apply your thinking process, the better results you achieve, which makes you confident to pose a harder killer question. This, in turn, requires you to apply the process more effectively which helps you achieve better outcomes, and so the cycle goes on indefinitely.

Chris Thomason
Chris Thomason is the author of Freaky Thinking, a process that helps individuals in organizations to think differently about important topics and issues. Chris is the founder of Ingenious Growth which helps organizations change their thinking to boost innovation, productivity, profits and most importantly, staff satisfaction. After buying a failing manufacturing company and turning it into one of the largest in its sector, Chris now teaches the innovative ways of thinking that lead to his business success. Chris is the author of eight business books including The Idea Generator, Freaky Thinking, and Excellence in Freaky Thinking. Chris’s clients include UPS, Canon, O2, Vodafone, Roche Pharmaceuticals, Touchnote, Lloyds Bank, Toyota, HSBC, Scottish Widows, South African Airways, American Express, and many more.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog post or content are those of the authors or the interviewees and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer, or company.

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