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Photo Credit: Murray Suid

25 Entrepreneurs Explain How They Maintain Creativity

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Creativity is the root of innovations we see around especially in technology. A business that cultivates creativity is bound to fit in the business world and also grow at a high rate. It can be a challenge to maintain creativity each day but there are various ways in which you do it succesfully.

We asked entrepreneurs and business owners how they maintain creativity.

#1- Reading and taking walks

Photo Credit: Aalap Shah

I read voraciously on subjects around business growth and how others have done things. There is a lot to be learned and inspired from others that have been successful and many of the methods, tools, and growth opportunities that folks like Arianna Huffington and Richard Branson have utilized to be successful have lessons to be learned. I meet people and take walks with them around the city blocks here in Chicago. With winter coming up, it’s going to be something I’ll miss the most but the exchange of ideas while being immersed in the urban environment (and nature when the opportunity arises) help create opportunities and space in the mind for an open canvas to think of different or unique ideas for our clients.

Thanks to Aalap Shah, SoMe Connect!

#2- Three ways

Photo Credit: Dennis Michael

Creativity requires an empathetic, clear and focused mind. The way I maintain creativity is to take care of my mind by exercising, meditating and being grateful. When you open up your heart your eyes widen. You begin to see the world with a broader perspective. That broad perspective allows you to soak in creative opportunities.

Thanks to Dennis Michael, Wake Creative!

#3- Letting someone else start the solution

Photo Credit: Mike Catania

It can be easy to fall into the same patterns for problem-solving as an executive; you do what you’re good at and what has worked well in the past. I’ve found an effective way to break from well-worn paths is to let someone else start the solution without my input and then work it out within those constraints. Being absent from the initial planning forces you to adapt to different ways of thinking and allows for exposure to various resources that you might not encounter otherwise.

Thanks to Mike Catania, PromotionCode!

#4- Walking away, shutting down and unplugging

Photo Credit: Lisa DiVirgilio-Arnold

We live in a society where there is so much value on producing that we often forget that the quality of our output matters. The only way we can truly get quality is by being thoughtful and approaching the idea or challenge in a way that isn’t always one you can achieve by sitting in front of your computer and clicking away. There are two different modes that our brain uses – the executive attention network and the default mode. At work, we do all we can to stay in the executive attention network so we can focus and produce. However, when we get away and allow our brains to wander and focus on nothing specific, we are letting them tune into the default mode, which studies show that our brain still uses roughly 95% of the energy it does when on executive attention mode. In other words, you tap into a whole other mode of your brain that may produce the creativity you’d be lacking if you stayed in the executive attention network! Ever think of a great comeback hours after an argument was over? You can thank your default mode for that.

Thanks to Lisa DiVirgilio-Arnold, KinHR!

#5- Daily meditation

Photo Credit: Matt Edstrom

Due to social media overload and other various forms of overstimulation, people often have trouble thinking for themselves and maintaining their creative edge. As the head of a marketing department, it is critical that I am able to stay creative. One thing I do to help keep my mind from reaching a creativity block is, meditate daily. To do so, I utilize various apps, such as Headspace. Apps like Headspace make meditation simple and effectively helps me clear my mind from unnecessary noise, reduce stress levels, stay focused, and boost my creative thinking. Regularly flushing my mind of unnecessary clutter allows me to continuously think clearly and creatively about the task at hand.

Thanks to Matt Edstrom, BioClarity!

#6- Therapy

Image Credit: Erin Barbossa

I’m guessing this won’t be a common response, but therapy. (psychotherapy that is). The therapeutic process has been essential in staying open and staying open is essential in my creative process. Therapy provides clarity about what stops our psyche from being able to take risks. When getting to a deeper level of personal growth we can easily remove the inhibition and stand in a ground of security. We aren’t as afraid of failure when we can understand the root of the fear and move through it with resilience and clear evaluation.

Thanks to Erin Barbossa, Intuissa!

#7- Playing piano

Photo Credit: Gene Caballero

Playing an instrument has been scientifically proven to engage practically every area of the brain at once especially the visual, auditory, and motor cortices so it gets my mental capacity going. It’s like a mental full body workout. It has helped me with my mental sharpness and creativity.

Thanks to Gene Caballero, GreenPal!

#8- A few things

Photo Credit: Lauren Davis

First, when I feel myself being squelched, I remind myself of my core values. Whether I think about them, or write them down. Reminding myself why I do what I do puts things into perspective. Next, I do something physical that makes me feel well and gets blood pumping through my veins. To be mentally healthy, it helps to have physical health. For me, it is usually Yoga/Meditation because those two things help me breathe and pump oxygen back into my brain. Third, if I am feeling stuck in a box, I attend a new business class, a new conference, or a new networking event. There is nothing better like meeting up with other business owners in different stages of their professional existence to help you feel like you are not alone, and to inspire you for the future.

Thanks to Lauren Davis, Lauren Davis Creative!

#9- First gathering ideas via email

Photo Credit: Dr. Ty Belknap

We have found that creative meetings are self-limiting. Once one person has an idea, everyone gathers around that idea and refines it, but they rarely come up with more ideas. Now, the meeting is scheduled to let everyone know what we are looking for ideas on, but ask that they send their ideas in an email first. Then, a few days later, we will have a meeting to discuss all the ideas everyone came up with. We get many more diverse and creative ideas this way.

Thanks to Dr. Ty Belknap, MyCoach.Life!

#10- Taking breaks during the day

Photo Credit: Diane Elizabeth

I write a lot of content and my business requires that I bring a lot of creative energy to the table every day. For me, I think that creativity thrives in a stress-free, relaxed, and fun atmosphere. How can we possibly be creative if we are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or self-conscious? Because of this, I make a point to take breaks during the day to get some fresh air and have a little fun. Whether it’s taking a short hike, relaxing in my hammock while listening to an audiobook, or something as simple as taking the time to make myself a proper lunch—these little breaks help to keep my stress levels low and give me some perspective. When I get back to my desk, I’m fully relaxed and in a great mood to do my best work!

Thanks to Diane Elizabeth, Skin Care Ox!

#11- Music and exercise

Photo Credit: Rich Bracken

My first recommendation is exercise and/or meditation. Even 15 minutes can drive up your energy, release endorphins and get your creativity popping. Add in some music and you now are combining my top 2 creativity go-to’s. Music will move your emotions and might provide you with a potential metaphor that will unblock that creative obstacle to spur new ideas.

Thanks to Rich Bracken

#12- Thinking and improving on a problem

Photo Credit: Kevin Huhn

I have a belief that although we create – we don’t really. Before I go too deep – let me define creativity. The ability to improve and innovate and enhance a current process, product or solution to a problem. Think about it – everything we have today is because someone wanted to do it better. Apple, GM, Goodyear, Starbucks, Armani, Rolex, Ford. They all wanted a better __ or to solve a problem. You may think – what about inventions? They are new, right? But think about it – what sparked it? Look at ways in which things are currently done and applying knowledge and testing out a new way is how we evolve. In short really we just evolve. So is that creating? I guess … for me it is thinking and improving. Oh and the more I look into problems or welcome them, the more the ideas flow on how to solve them. That is Cultivating Creativity.

Thanks to Kevin Huhn, Be Your Best Today!

#13- Painting and drawing with a chalk

Photo Credit: Dana Humphrey

In order to maintain my creativity I like to paint and draw with chalk! I paint inspirational quotes, body paint, face paint, costumes etc. I usually get ideas when I am in the shower or if I go for a run, these activities help me still my mind and get some interesting ideas on how to tackle the problems presenting themselves in my world life.

Thanks to Dana Humphrey, Whitegate PR!

#14- Running outside

Photo Credit: Kristin Marquet

I am the owner of three different businesses now (all three in creative fields) and the best way that I find and maintain creativity is by running outside. I don’t know what it is but whenever I am outside, I seem to have my best ideas.

Thanks to Kristin Marque, CreativeDevelopmentAgency.com!

#15- Reading various content

Photo Credit: Sydney Liu

I spend an hour every day listening to or reading a wide range of content from science to history to tech to fanfiction to get my mind thinking. I’ve found that I am most creative when I’m digesting new and interesting information. After this hour, I can feel my mind running at high speed, looking for new connections in the content I just consumed. For example, I read a fanfiction piece the other day that immediately introduced a new content format idea for us to build. The story wasn’t written in that format, but the way it was framed led to new ideas.

Thanks to Sydney Liu, Commaful!

#16- Talking to other creatives

Photo Credit: Murray Suid

Creativity involves novelty, which means bringing something new into the mix. This can be done alone—through experiments, trials and errors—or via cross-fertilization, that is, going outside oneself: for example, reading books and blogs. For me, the most powerful and interesting way to bring in the new is to talk with other creatives in my field or neighboring fields. Often—as happened this morning—it takes place over breakfast or lunch. A relaxed setting is important to me. While there may be an agenda—today, my pal and I were working on an article—frequently the conversation will take what looks like a “detour” leading to something valuable. To the outside world, what comes up it might seem almost magical (“Wow, you’re so creative”) where in reality, it was simply the meeting—sometimes clashing—of two minds. In other words, creativity can have a strong social element.

Thanks to Murray Suid, MobileMovieMaking.com!

#17- Talking To Myself

Photo Credit: Carrie Aulenbacher

When it comes to creativity, even a fiction writer can run dry. I have found that my videos that are a part of my author newsletter, ‘The Creative Insider’, really give me a boost. I think of a challenge I’m facing or a situation I’m dealing with and think about what I would love to hear by way of encouragement. Constructing a video around that need, I film as if talking to myself. By sending it out to help others, I often can feel refreshed and energized to get back to writing!

Thanks to Carrie Aulenbacher

#18- Several ways

Photo Credit: Chip R. Bell

“Creativity,” said philosopher Erich Fromm, “is the courage to let go of certainties.” It is harder for CEOs than for their young kids. Get out of your comfort zone. Have long talks with young kids like they are your peers. Walk instead of drive; drive instead of fly. Find a hobby you are not very good at. Jump rope…with someone. Eat weird food. Look at great art and listen to great music you do not like. Spend time with people very different than you. Watch news channels from the “other” side of the political spectrum. Keep a journal and make entries every day. Call an old friend you have not talked with since high school.

Thanks to Dr. Chip R. Bell, The Chip Bell Group!

#19- My use of curiosity

Photo Credit: Kathy Taberner

At the Institute of Curiosity we believe curiosity is comprised of three basic skills: being present to ABSORB what others are saying to us or what the gremlins in our heads say to us, being open and non-judging to what is being said and asking open, curious questions (begin with who, what, where, when, how or why) of ourselves or others. I find that when I do this, I am open to possibility, a place where I can explore and discover, always nurturing my creativity. My daughter/business partner has the same practice and in our conversations, email correspondence etc, we continually create new ideas, explore possibility and are open to what could be, all of which help us strive to be creative in how we do what we do.

Thanks to Kathy Taberner, Institute of Curiosity!

#20- Letting my unconscious mind work on the problem

Photo Credit: Sonja Dewing

I know that at times I have to walk away from the problem. I give myself permission to relax, and schedule about 30 minutes of creativity time a couple days a week. That includes walking around the neighborhood, checking out the latest art in local galleries, or wandering the giant halls of the convention center checking out the public art, listening in to the conferences, and people watching with a notebook and pen in hand. I’m not focused on the problem, I’m simply observing and letting my unconscious mind work on the problem. Sometimes the answer will come to me when I’m in my creativity time or when I sit back down at my computer, the answer comes easily.

Thanks to Sonja Dewin, Plot Duckies!

#21- I play hockey

Photo Credit: Jan Bednar

A lot of people don’t realize the amount of creativity that goes into hockey. As a forward, I work with my teammates to develop new patterns and formations — really, any technique available to optimize our chances of scoring. One thing this lets me do is approach business and my work-team with a fresh set of eyes:  often times, optimization in business comes just like it does in hockey: through unexpected formations and patterns.

Thanks to Jan Bednar, ShipMonk!

#22- I balance production and consumption

Photo Credit: Jason Lavis

Creativity occurs through inspiration, and inspiration tends to come from new ideas and experiences. For me, the key is to balance production and consumption. If you spend too much time on consumption then you can’t get any work done. If you spend all your time on production then your innovation and competitiveness will wane. In short, your business will become stale. I substitute the consumption of business topics, with unimportant everyday life habits. For example, I substitute ‘world news’ for marketing news, and I ‘driving music’ for business Podcasts.

Thanks to Jason Lavis, Out of the Box Innovations Ltd!

#23- Two things

Photo Credit: Charles Cridland

As a first step, learn to delegate. You can’t be creative if you’re swamped with an endless stream of administrative tasks. Free up your mind by delegating every non-essential task, it’s remarkable what ideas can be generated from a clutter-free mind and a dose of productive daydreaming. Secondly, be open with others. Share ideas and ask for feedback. Don’t be  protective of problems you’re having or products you’re developing. The more feedback the better, bouncing ideas off others helps hugely with the creativity process.

Thanks to Charles Cridland, YourParkingSpace!

#24- Personalise your workspace

Photo Credit:  Steve Pritchard

Having photos of your family on your desk, a coffee cup that features an image from your favourite TV show and a Spotify playlist of your favourite songs are very simple and inexpensive touches to make to the workplace. However, surrounding yourself with mementos of things that are important and inspirational to you makes for a hub of
creativity, inspiring you to do more and achieve better results.

Thanks to Steve Pritchard, Cuuver!

#25- Cultivate a positive mental atmosphere and a healthy, balanced life

Photo Credit: Robin Salter

Fear, doubt, anxiety and stress are creativity crushers. An individual whose mind is distracted by outside worries and whose energy is siphoned by constant complaints will always struggle to generate fresh, creative ideas. Conversely, a positive, peaceful and harmonious state-of-mind is fertile ground for creative thinking and inspired ideas. When an individual is feeling mentally and physically healthy and emotionally balance, he or she can offer complete, undivided attention to and laser focus on assignments or projects that require creative ideas.

Thanks to Robin Salter, KWIPPED!

How do you maintain creativity? Tell us in the comments below. Don’t forget to join our #IamCEO Community.

About CEO Blog Nation

This is a post from a CEO Blog Nation writer. CEO Blog Nation is a community of blogs for entrepreneurs and business owners. Started in much the same way as most small businesses, CEO Blog Nation captures the essence of entrepreneurship by allowing entrepreneurs and business owners to have a voice. CEO Blog Nation provides news, information, events and even startup business tips for entrepreneurs, startups and business owners to succeed.

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