Creative Thinker …16 Ways You Destroy Creativity and Imagination

Have you ever done any reading about Einstein and his writing on creativity and imagination? Do you desire to be a creative thinker like Einstein?
creative thinker
      Creative thinker.
Check out our thoughts on building innovation.
We are great fans of Albert Einstein and have written about many of his stories.
(See our article about Einstein’s facts and wisdom).
No greater source than Albert Einstein said the true sign of intelligence is not knowledge, but imagination.
As such, it is almost an indignity when learners are forced to stuff themselves full of facts without bowing to the greater good of creativity and imagination.
It is by far the most overlooked part of a person’s learning and a great way to destroy creativity and imagination.
Of the two, imagination is difficult to define. It is obviously an intellectual mechanism that takes existing data and reintroduces it in a variety of forms.
But what gives some people an abundance and others a fear of it? Research indicates imagination starts with a person’s play instinct.
This is the ability for us to recreate something with ourselves as a centerpiece. Imagination requires the reformation of existing outcomes – we call it a form of empathy.
You can stimulate such thinking with “What would happen” questions.  Play and having fun is a great way to enhance imagination.
Truth be told, many peoples have a rich and varied creativity and imagination. It can eke its way out if given a chance.
It includes musical, spatial, linguistic, math, relationships and others that serve as a good base for developing both creativity as well as imagination.
But let’s examine those ways we limit our creative and imagination abilities.
Here are the 16 most obvious ways you destroy your creativity and imagination. And more importantly some important pointers on what you should do to eliminate them:

Maintain the status quo

Working with few new activities and new environments is a guaranteed way to limit both your imagination and creativity.
The true enemy of imagination is acceptance of the status quo.


What to do:

Try to do and experience many new things. Do things differently.
This could be as simple as taking a new route to work or perhaps learning how to write with both hands.
The true enemy of imagination is acceptance of the status quo.


accept average quality
        Accept average quality.

Creative thinker … accept average quality

Have you occasionally noticed that you are spending most of your time on the wrong priorities?
Doing much more but everything at an average quality? No time for imagination or creativity in anything?


What to do:

Think about your priorities and how you can make things better. A man just made a small fortune redesigning the fork.
He made a wood model of one, watched how people used the fork, and imagined a better version. It can cut on both sides, fits into the hand better, and has dull tongs to grip pasta better.
He picked his priority and stuck with it.


Limited view of imagination

Are you constraining your view of what imagination really is? Shouldn’t be very many constraints should there?


What to do:

First, break the habit of seeing imagination as only appropriate for art or music. Almost every article written on imagination is about music or art.
Despite the fact, many other significant intelligences need to be encouraged.
To stretch this limited view of imagination; note that everything you use has been invented by someone who applied imagination to solving a problem.
Think about who invented the pocket or the wheel and how they used better observation skills to increases the awareness of possibilities.
So the first priority is to give yourself problems to solve. This naturally develops and it encourages imagination.
Indeed, problem solving is nothing more than applied imagination at work.


Overly reward imagination

Are you going overboard recognizing and rewarding your imagination?
That can constrain additional creative thinking and improvement ideas.

What to do:

If you compile an innovative way to solve a problem, accept it as such, but continue to improve it. If overly compensated for this effort, you may lose the desire for continuous improvement.


Creative thinker … always evaluate imagination

Do you evaluate your imagination or creativity? Again this can limit your out of the box thinking.


What to do:

Don’t evaluate imagination. Don’t tell yourself that the imagined solution is bad or good.
Don’t tell yourself why it will or wouldn’t work. Just explain it to yourself.
The imagination cannot always be judged by those close to it. Truly imaginative work can require a long gestation.
Outside of asking for an acceptable explanation of the work, judgment should be left until a later date.

Limit experiences

Do you lack an ability to explore and try new things? Does it make you feel uncomfortable?


What to do:

Observation is the mother of imagination. A person who is not exposed to new things cannot bring new thinking to a problem.
For imagination to grow, a silo filled with resources must exist to feed it. The more experiences, the greater the imagination that can be brought to bear on potential solutions.


Follow the rules

Are you one that follows every rule? Never questions or overlooks those that make no sense?


What to do:

Let just say not all rules are good ones. There are some stupid ones out there.
Pick your spots and explore. Kill the bad rules.


Don’t practice

Hate to practice and use new skills? Don’t think one can practice and improve skills like imagination and creativity?


What to do:

Creativity is like any other learned skill. Unless you are the rare minority, you weren’t born with amazing creativity skills and boundless imagination.
You will need lots of practice and experience. And lots of failures and not so good results.
Be patient and stick with it. All good skills take time.


Don’t collaborate

Avoid collaboration because you worry that others will recognize your undeveloped creativity and imagination?


What to do:

Collaboration drives creativity because new ideas always emerge from a series of sparks. Never a single flash of insight.
Surround yourself with creative people in different fields. Learn from what they share.
Find people that are also looking for collaboration and give it a try.


Limit play and experimentation

Are you one that works all the time? Believes that play is not an ingredient of work.
And don’t like to experiment with new ideas because you abhor mistakes and failure?


What to do:

Actively play and experiment with new ideas. Keep an open mind and focus on continuous learning in new fields.
Keep in mind that knowledge is what you already know. Imagination is what makes it grow.


Don’t worry about finishing what you start

Like to keep lots of balls in the air?  Good at multitasking?
But your record of completion of tasks is not that great?


What to do:

Remember you are trying new things. And not expecting great results. Expect many failures.
If you don’t finish, it doesn’t count as experience or a failure. Just a give up.


Don’t question authority

Do you avoid questioning why things are done the way they are?
Avoid questioning the decisions of bosses up the line?


What to do:

Don’t become a pain, but ask for explanations.
And don’t hesitate to offer recommendations for change. Especially challenge the authority of your own longstanding beliefs.


Don’t think broad

Have a problem with a vision of what could be, especially in new fields of endeavor? Are you lacking confidence in expanding your horizon and setting aggressive goals?


What to do:

Make new friends in new fields and use their expertise to infuse new ideas into your thinking cap. Create diverse teams and rotate yourself into new projects and roles– especially ones you are fascinated by.


Limit your questions

Believe that questions can be a nuisance to those around you?


What to do:

Ask about everything that will help you learn and explore.
After asking questions, ask different questions. After asking different questions, ask them in a different way.


Fear bad ideas

Do you fear making mistakes and surfacing bad ideas? Don’t like failures?


What to do:

Remember people with bad ideas occasionally succeed far more often than people who have no ideas at all.
Someone asked me where I get all my good ideas, explaining that it takes him a month or two to come up with one.
I seem to have more than that. I asked him how many bad ideas he has every month. He paused and said, “none.”
And there, you see, is the problem.


Don’t stretch yourself

You are not comfortable with going beyond your current boundaries. You are happy with where you currently are.

What to do:

Build on your imagination and your curiosity. They are your most important creativity assets.
Work hard at avoiding the old ways you do things. Getting the old ways out of your head is one of your most difficult tasks.
Embrace the new paradigm of active learning, curiosity, and imagination. Offer a spark to others around us and may even build a new movement.


The bottom line

This list is simple, but makes good sense doesn’t it?

 But here is the thing. An example.
Over his lifetime Da Vinci created 13,000 pages of sketches and notes. 13,000 pages.
By hand, on individual sheets of paper. And how many masterpieces by perhaps the most creative thinker of all time?
Probably 3-5 depending on who you ask. Persistence is a key, isn’t it?
Lack of persistence is perhaps this is the most important reason we have less creative people, isn’t it?




So what’s the conclusion? The conclusion is there is no conclusion. There is only the next step. And that next step is completely up to you. But believe in the effectiveness of collaborative innovation. And put it to good use in adapting to changes in your business environment.
It’s up to you to keep improving your learning and experience with innovation and creativity efforts. Lessons are all around you. In this case, your competitor may be providing the ideas and or inspiration.
But the key is in knowing that it is within you already.
All you get is what you bring to the fight. And that fight gets better every day you learn and apply new lessons.
When things go wrong, what’s most important is your next step.
Test. Learn. Improve. Repeat.
Are you devoting enough energy improving your creativity, innovation and ideas?
Do you have a lesson about making your creativity better you can share with this community? Have any questions or comments to add in the section below?
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Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he blogs on topics that relate to improving the performance of your business. Find them on G+Twitter, and LinkedIn.  
Digital Spark Marketing will stretch your thinking and your ability to adapt to change.  We also provide some fun and inspiration along the way. Call us for a free quote today. You will be amazed how reasonable we will be.

More reading on creativity from Digital Spark Marketing’s Library:

10 Different Ways to Enhance Creativity

Secrets to Understanding the Genie in the Creativity Bottle

How You Are Destroying your Creativity and Imagination

13 Motivators for Creating a Change and Adaptability Culture

Creative Thinker …16 Ways You Destroy Creativity and Imagination