The Science of Cultivating Creativity

The ability to devise creative responses and solutions is a hallmark of elite sales people.  In the past, many thought creativity was simply a gift, something you either had or didn’t.  However, a growing amount of research has redefined what we know about how to cultivate creativity.

What the evidence suggests is that when it comes to fostering creativity we too often focus only on the thoughts that come out of our minds.  Instead, what we should also be focusing on is what we put into our minds.  Social psychologist Ron Friedman aptly summarizes the research on creativity with the statement, “What we create is a function of the information we consume.”[1]  Legendary business innovator Steve Jobs put it this way, “Creativity is just connecting things.”[2] 

This is the secret to creativity.  It’s not that those who are creative are smarter or more gifted than others.  It’s that they have knowledge or experiences that generate creative thoughts.  In other words, thinking creatively requires that you feed your mind new ideas. 

You can improve your ability to think creatively, by strategically feeding your mind.  For instance, for the first few years of my sales career I only studied selling.  However, what really transformed my results and launched my career was studying disciplines like social psychology, cognitive psychology and neuroscience, which I later applied to selling.  It was the creative fusing of science and sales that allowed me to innovate and provide higher levels of value to my clients.

You can improve your ability to think creatively by choosing some topics that you want to become more knowledgeable in.  I would suggest starting with some topics that will improve your business acumen and help you better understand and serve your potential customers.  Some examples of these topics are:  business strategy, public speaking, marketing, philosophy, religion, risk management and behavioral economics.  Take a class, read some books or listen to podcasts that deal with the topic.  You’ll find that as your knowledge diversifies, your ability to think creatively will also grow.

[1] Ron Friedman.  The Best Place To Work.  (New York:  Perigee, 2015).  p. 85.

[2] Gary Wolf, “Steve Jobs:  The Next Insanely Great Thing,” Wired (February 1996)

 

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