Inspirational

    Six Ideas for Creative Action

    A red button with the words "Take action" on itWhat kind of action can you take, today, to advance your dream? What action can you take today to make real your invention, your new business idea, or art project?

    This is a post about taking creative action. All the great ideas in the world, all the wonderful concepts, all the ground-breaking thoughts we have are useless unless we get into real world action.

    It’s an easy concept to forget for people who love ideas, concepts, and imaginative thinking. Somehow — we are such great rationalisers — the good vibes generated when we have those lovely thoughts feel like action. But sadly they are not. Every day that slips by without real world forward progress on our creative ideas is wasted and gone forever. We have to take action in spite of all obstacles. Don’t let fear, uncertainty, doubt, finances, or time get in the way. There is always a way to do Something. 

    This all comes to mind because I’m here in Buffalo once again for the annual Creative Problem Solving Institute (CPSI). I first came in 1988 and it changed the course of my entire life. It feels like I’m back in college, installed in a bare bones dorm room, squirrelling away bottles of water and bags of almonds to augment the weird food. This is the conference that is so inspirational for ideas. It’s a bit like Burning Man for applied creativity people.

    CPSI is the conference where they teach the Osborn-Parnes Model of brainstorming (aka “CPS”) and, all sorts of other fascinating creative and innovative content. Most of the attendees here are creativity wonks or wonk-wanna-be’s. They newby’s will learn the amazingly powerful and flexible CPS framework and will feel incredibly empowered leaving this conference. You’d think this empowerment would fuel a lot of creative behaviour, that is, real action in the world. Sadly, for many, this will not be the case. They’ll simply be much better at generating ideas they won’t use. In that light, for them, and for the rest of us struggling to get into action, here are…

    Six Ideas for Creative Action:

    1. Instead of spending endless time perfecting an idea on paper or in your head, get a quickie version out. Sometimes action itself is an idea refinement method. Really, the Lean movement is all about this. Get into action and learn, improve, re-implement. Do a sketch of that painting, do an outline for that book. Run that new speech by someone for feedback. Do It Now.
    2. Don’t feel that you have to be ready to take action. Feeling energized sometimes happens after you jump into the cold pool of action. Be a bit crazy — take action in an explosive and unexpected way. Surprise yourself. Pick up the phone and make an audacious call. Make a bold public declaration of intention. Write the first chapter of that book. Today. Action steps that are safe are rarely bold action. Leap into action, work with the clay of your ideas in real time. Now.
    3. Attack what’s holding you back.  Fear lurks in the shadows. By not looking in the shadows we avoid not only our fears but we avoid action. Look into your shadows deliberately, what are you afraid of? Okay, now, right now, strike back. Take a decisive action to defeat your fear — even if it scares the crap out of you to do it. Do It Now.
    4. Throw caution to the wind. More than once. There are moments when we have to take risks, sometimes big risks. I’ve seen people grab for a brass ring and fail, big time. You know what? I love those people. Generally they recover, and it’s amazing that they often try again right away. Every time they try they get closer and boost their odds of eventual success. With belief and persistence you can grab that ring and then do something truly amazing. When one of those moments sneaks up on you, be bold, jump off that carousel horse and go for it. Take a Risk Now.
    5. Baby steps are action. If you’re not buying into the bold bigger step, fine, take a measurable baby step. Then take another. Sometimes something like a phone call can be a builder that improves your confidence to take bigger action. Getting materials you need for a project is an action step. Setting up an appointment, preparing for a pitch, these are great baby steps. Here’s the thing — keep making those baby steps, don’t stop, and you’ll look back a month from now and see you’ve been in constant action. You’ll make real progress. Take a baby step Now. 
    6. Be creative in the way you take action. Celebrate your action as you take it. I’ve had champagne with my first cold call of the day. Walk into a meeting and say out loud “this is going to be the best meeting we’ve ever had” — then make it so with some creative flair. Surprise people. Great ideas presented in a boring way don’t look much like great ideas. Be creative in how you take action steps, make it fun, do it with energy and verve. So you’re calling that CEO or customer with an idea — think of something to say, first thing, that grabs attention in a creative way. Offer to pay her $100 to listen very carefully for five minutes. I had a friend that wrote a memo on toilet paper inside a boss’s toilet. Get the idea? Be creative inside an action, like, right Now!

    Creative thinking is often inspired by creative action. Let action inform your creativity — and let creativity inform your action. Do something today. 

    There is magic in action. Fortune befriends the bold (Emily Dickinson).

    Comments

    Have You Made the Creative Choice?

    Have you made the Creative Choice? There is a ton of written material about creativity and innovation. I make an effort to keep up with the waves of literature — there’s a new methodology, a new process, fresh brain research, best practices, anti-best practices, etc. Some of this literature is quite good. There is also stuff about how creativity relates to mysticism and spirituality, also quite interesting. Finally there is also a good deal of useless, boring drivel that only reinforces unhelpful mythology about creativity. If you intend to be more creative and to use that capacity to innovate, I would encourage you to read widely and make your own judgments, but don’t get lost in all the words, don’t

    Read More..
    Comments

    The Innovation Metronome

    There is no achievement without hard work. There is no breakthrough innovation without hard work. Innovation happens when you practice with discipline, with rhythm. We sometimes get lucky with things and shortcuts present themselves. Even then, one has to be ready to recognise luck when it’s sitting in front of you — on its hind legs begging for a ham bone. Even recognising a breakthrough innovation opportunity takes the hard work of understanding the market, the context. Call that deep research. Usually innovation is a bit like the guitar lesson I had yesterday. I take a weekly lesson from a kind church lady. Donna is a great teacher, she swings, in the musical sense. I emphasize the kind aspect of

    Read More..
    Comments

    Leaders Hate the Concept of Creativity

    SNARK ALERT I’m not trying to be snarky. I am snarky. I’ve always been snarky.  I like being snarky, it’s fun. Here’s the problem: Being snarky is a bit like being the boy that cried wolf. When you’re being a smart ass just for practice you often stretch the truth. Okay, I often throw the truth out the window to be funny or to shock — but not in this blogg! As a creativity and innovation writer I suppress my inner Snark in order to be taken seriously. But now I think I’m doing you a disservice. The value of SNARK is it can be a wakeup call. As an innovation thought leader, I’m here to help. You can improve, you can

    Read More..
    Comments

    Ideational Speaker, Gregg Fraley

    I do keynotes on creativity and innovation topics — and this is not something I hide. It’s all over my website and I do my best to promote my speaking on FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and in my blog postings. So, it’s not unusual for me to be confronted — at a cocktail party or a business meeting — with the comment: So you’re a “Motivational Speaker.” It’s a fair observation, but it’s really…inexact when it comes to describing what I actually do. It’s not Wrong, but there’s more to my speaking than motivation. My talks are about ideas, so really, I’m an Ideational Speaker.  Yes, I make an effort to motivate people to be more creative and innovative. So, I

    Read More..
    Comments

    Reading Widely Means More Dots to Connect

    People ask me what I read. I think this question is inspired by my citing some arcane fact or that I make a weird connection now and then. I am a voracious reader, but I think what I actually read might surprise. Most of it is NOT directly about creativity and innovation (that’s a way to guarantee you’re boring!) Reading widely provides more dots to connect. Broadly, I’m thinking I’m improving my database by reading a lot of varied and weird content. There is some science to this; one can make more conceptual blends if one has more to blend. And, concept blending, new connections, are where innovation comes from. So, this is a snapshot of what I’m reading, for

    Read More..
    Comments

    Need Ideas for Creative Alternatives to Government Paralysis

    I’m sick of having a dysfunctional government. I know it’s a complex power struggle. I know there are many points of view as to why this dysfunction exists. I think this crazy partial government shutdown is probably going to happen, and to me this signals a new low. I’m not interested, right now, in a right or left opinion of whose fault it is, or why this is necessary. I think both sides share the blame in this, and, it will require both sides to return to a productive government. I want ideas. I want to focus on ideas that can motivate those in government right now. Before new elections. For years now, it would seem the only thing the

    Read More..
    Comments

    America, where everybody has a chance to win

    The new Miss America is a real stunner. I saw the clips at a pub — they had the sound turned down.  I thought, so that’s who won the contest this year — can we please get to the baseball scores? It would appear others had a different reaction. Miss New York, now Miss America, is a Syracuse native and University of Michigan graduate, her name is Nina Davuluri. She’s the first woman of Indian descent to win the contest. Born in America, an American citizen, and by all accounts an exemplary young person. Congratulations Nina. You live in America, where everybody has a chance to win. You just proved it. I’m an innovation commentator and from that lens it’s

    Read More..
    Comments

    Why Not? Keeping the Creative Door Open

    When it comes to sparking the imagination, much is made of that lovely phrase, “What If?” It’s a good one, no doubt. Just the mention of the phrase has folks going down a more imaginative path. However, quite often, we get to the end of that imaginative path, and, good news, we have an idea in mind. We might express it, we might not. Often, instead of moving forward with self-expression, like writing it up, talking to others, or taking some action, we just let it go. Why? Lots of reasons. It might seem impractical. Or expensive. Or just hard to do. Or, we might start thinking about what everybody is going to say about it, and mercy sakes, don’t

    Read More..
    Comments

    Trayvon, George, Fear and Creativity

    It’s all about Fear. I’m of the belief that fear is the opposite of creativity. Fear leans towards the darkness in our souls. Creativity leans towards the light. Creativity is high order thinking, fear is not thinking, it’s letting our lizard brain dictate our action. Fear is the hidden truth in what happened with the Zimmerman sentence and the Martin murder. Some would question, now, my use of the word murder when Zimmerman has been acquitted. I’m sorry, but George is responsible for the death of Trayvon Martin. He put himself in that position, he fired the weapon, in my view he’s responsible. George Zimmerman was operating from a fundamental place of fear. He could have chose differently. Fear is

    Read More..
    Comments