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Designing Your Personal Culture of Creativity

How to Design a Creative CultureCreating a culture that supports creativity and innovation isn’t just for large organizations. It’s imperative for us – individuals, entrepreneurs, solopreneurs – for anyone who wants better, bigger, bolder ideas in their lives and their work.

It’s for anyone who wants to make stuff happen.

The reason why consciously creating a culture of creativity is so important is pretty simple:

We’re ALWAYS either inviting new thinking and new creations or we’re blocking them – and the culture we exist in does the same.

Just as in organizations, your creativity and the quantity and quality of your ideas is influenced by many factors: the environment you create within, the people you surround yourself with and get inspiration from (not to mention, give inspiration to) and the processes you use to create and invite others to participate in with you, ALL MATTER.

Which means, the more intentional you can be about developing a creative culture for yourself the better.

So, what do we need to think about when designing our personal culture of creativity? Here are six places to start:

Your Daily Routine: For most people, morning is a high-creative time when ideas tend to flow. It’s also a time that’s fairly easy to keep sacred. Especially, if you get up very early. But whether or not this is true for you, what is certain is that there are certain times of the day that likely work better for you when in comes to getting in the flow. Design an ideal daily routine that supports a higher level of creativity and make revisiting that routine a regular part of your personal creativity culture.

Your Surroundings: Your immediate environment influences creativity more than you might imagine. Even though I personally love a clean, sparse, white room for sparking ideas, studies show that clutter and background noise (a low constant buzz) can be more supportive of creative flow. The point is, design your environment with an eye toward the personal creative culture you want to foster. If chaos supports you and is a desired part of your culture, keep materials out in the open, put post-it notes everywhere and generally make a mess. If background noise helps you, turn on a TV in another room. Also consider that your work office, home office or other room may not even be the best environment for you. Period. If they’re not, determine the environment that does support you best and go there – of, if it doesn’t exist, create it for yourself.

Your Clothes: Just as organizations have dress codes, your personal culture of creativity is also represented and supported (or not) by what you wear while you’re creating. Think about what clothing makes you feel free and what clothing makes you feel restrained. Ask yourself: What is the outfit my most creative self likes to wear? For some of us, wearing a suit might be just the thing and for others it might be sweats and no shoes. When I was first designing my own personal culture of creativity, I had a vision of myself coming into my home office, swapping out jeans for shorts, donning a white button-down shirt, pulling my hair up in a ponytail and also pulling on thick white socks.  This white-shirt, thick-sock uniform very much representes the Unlocked Box brand and, more importantly, changing into this outfit gets me ready to create. If you think about it, culture is very much comprised of rituals and how you dress can become a ritual that truly supports idea generation.

Your Process: We all have a creative process – whether we know what it is or not – and identifying it in detail is an important part of any culture of creativity – even our personal ones. Knowing the general creative process and designing your own structures in support of that process can dramatically increase creative confidence and can also be a huge factor in ensuring your ideas are actualized (simply because you do have a process). As far as structures go, I often use iPhone’s Notes app for preparation, lined paper and driving my car for incubation and my white board is usually part of the illumination phase because part of my personal creative culture is celebrating ideas out loud and the white board is perfect for this.

Your Tools: I used to avoid creativity tools like the plague. I felt that if I didn’t think it up in my head, myself, without outside triggers, my creation wasn’t going to be as good. Today, though, I highly value creativity tools and use improv, perspective shifting, a set series of questions and other tools as part of idea development regularly. The eye-opening moment was experiencing how the tool of improv exploded my creativity – knocking down certain barriers I didn’t even know were there. If creative tools are part of your process, great. Just consciously note that they are part of your culture. If not, do a little exploration and find a few tools you would like to try. Some of these will eventually become part of your “how I do it” story – part of your personal creativity culture.

Your Attitude: All cultures are driven by the attitudes of those in charge, and your attitude is probably the most important factor in designing your personal culture of creativity. I will cover this more about next time. But in the meantime, ask yourself: Do I “but” my own ideas to death? Do I give myself permission to risk? To even create? How do I treat myself when I have an idea that is not working? Getting curious and intentional about your attitude toward creativity, in general, and your creativity, in particular, is especially critical when you consider that it’s often our unconscious thoughts and beliefs that block us from being our most creative selves – and which keep us from designing a personal creative culture that truly inspires us.

To deciding our creativity is worth its own culture,

Susan B.

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