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Creativity counts

One of the best ways to increase your own CQ (creativity quotient), and hence be more productive in your career, is to regress a little and be more like you were as a kid. Did you know, for instance, that on psychological tests of creativity, only five per cent of people — 18 and older — registered in the “creative” range? Among 17 year-olds, 10 per cent scored “creative”. But among five year olds, more than 90 per cent demonstrated the creativity to suggest innovative ways of looking at situations and the ability to dream up new ideas.

The best news here is that creativity can be taught. In fact, you can boost your own creative capability just by trying various forms of sideways thinking. Here are 10 “creativity boosters” that corporate creativity trainers teach their clients to help both individuals and work teams stretch their imaginative powers:

Ask “what if” questions. (What if teachers got paid based on how well their students performed? What if executives got paid based on how well they understood the people who work for them? What if supervisors were elected?)

Daydream whenever you can. Just see what wild ideas you come up with and jot them down on note cards. (And keep these cards in a file box of your wild ideas.)

Try your hand at cooking a meal creatively, without any recipes.

Try doing jigsaw and crossword puzzles on a regular basis.

Watch three-quarters of a movie on video, then turn off the VCR and imagine your own ending.

Interview people in your work group about some of the inventions they’d like to see happen.

Imagine changing places with someone in your office for a day — what would you get to do differently?

Imagine that you’ve just won a month-long trip anywhere in the world with the person of your dreams. But you have to choose the place in the next five minutes and leave tomorrow. Where will you go and why?

Go for or rent a foreign language film with a friend. Make sure that neither of you know the language nor are there subtitles. As you watch the film, share with each other what you think the main characters are probably saying, feeling and thinking, based just on their expressions and body language.

Eat a food you’ve never tasted for lunch or dinner today. Let the new taste sensations roll around on your tongue and try to imagine a “story” to go with them.

So what’s the point of this? The point is to get you out of your accepted, expected and brain-dulling ways of experiencing the world. In order to succeed as grown-up leaders where we work, we must find ways to take ourselves back in time to a long- gone way of seeing and experiencing things afresh.

Here’s to being five years old again, at least once or twice a day!

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