You might think that creativity requires the antithesis of rules and regulation. Even the thought of being creative conjures up images of disorder. Messy rooms, paint everywhere, scraps of paper with ideas scrawled across them. The frantic creative genius works away, oblivious to the world around them. Chaos. Method in madness. Flashes of brilliance among a cluttered existence.
The best entrepreneurs are creative. They need to find ways of solving old and new problems. They picture a world that doesn’t yet exist, they bring products to life using only their imagination. They think of ways to move forward, grow bigger and stand out. Doing more with the same tools doesn’t happen by accident, it’s intentional and it requires ideas.
Consistency and creativity
Although at a glance they seem to conflict, the secret to creativity is consistency. It’s a myth that creativity has to come from chaos. Creativity rarely exists without routine and order of some sort.
Consistency creates the framework from which genius can emerge. It underpins it. Inventors conjure up thousands of ideas before discovering the one that changes everything. Van Gogh made art daily, cycling various techniques until he found his calling, and even then it wasn’t appreciated until after his death. Business leaders follow repeatable routines of daily actions, trusting that they will one day reap what they sow.
Keishawn Blackstone is an entrepreneur in the entertainment industry, running tak3-One-Productions. He’s 24 and was born in Los Angeles. He didn’t go to college; educated instead by experiences and books. With three director credits on his IMDB, Blackstone’s early success has stemmed from his healthy habits. He meticulously plans his day and ensures consistency throughout his week. Blackstone stands by the mantra, “no rules”, and “set[s] no boundaries about how far or high the ultimate goal can be,” yet boundaries that keep him sharp and progressing define his day. It seems contradictory, but it works.
Limitless achievement requires limits. Unwavering confidence requires humility. Brilliant creativity requires routine. It’s an arena of paradoxes. Business coach Melitta Campbell said, “It’s hard to be creative when your parameters are too broad, so the first step is to narrow your focus. Go back to your purpose and your clients’ needs, for example, and ask yourself, ‘could this work if..?’ Once you set yourself some limits, your creativity kicks in.”
Decision fatigue is real. Waking up only to spend time deciding what to wear and eat and where to work is a waste of mental energy that could be better spent elsewhere. Removing mundane decisions by setting and sticking to rules reduces physical and mental clutter. It makes space for experimentation within safe confines and helps creativity thrive.
Remove daily decision-making on things that don’t matter by planning your week ahead of time; meal prepping on a Sunday or planning the first thing you’ll do each day. Remove yourself as a bottleneck to decisions by training and trusting a team member to make them. Set personal policies on what you do and don’t do after or before certain times. They might include not checking email until 10am, not responding to friends’ messages until lunch, not doing admin of any sort until you have created something, whatever that might be.
The morning is a glorious time because your head is fresh from resting and everyone else is still asleep. There are fewer vies for your attention.
You can read about the morning routines of world class performers online, and it’s a common question in media interviews with successful entrepreneurs. Whilst reading you’ll notice that there is no commonality in the specific actions. The commonality is that a routine exists. It matters less what you do, it matters more that you do it the same every day.
The opposite of having a morning routine is meandering through your day paying attention to anything that tries to grab it. It will likely lead to having a day on someone else’s agenda; fulfilling their goals and being at the mercy of their needs. Mindlessly scrolling the news waiting for something to react to, seeing what has hit your inbox since yesterday, checking social media platforms or bank accounts or status reports; it all can wait.
Find inspiration from areas outside of your field. Jewellery designer Lucille Whiting knows that tunnel vision doesn’t aid her creative work. “Never stop learning” she advised, “seek out new ideas and talk to new people online or otherwise. Read, take photographs, journal, keep a hundred notebooks to draw, doodle and scribble down midnight ideas. Collect, take screen shots, add webpages to favourites and keep them in organised files.”
Content strategist Kirsty Bartholomew encourages cross-sector learning on the hunt for new ideas, “Get curious about how other people in different markets and niches build their business. It really opens your eyes to different opportunities and can shake up your ideas.” Founder of Coven Girl Gang, Sapphire Bates, knows that rest is as vital as work, “Ensure you make time for things that aren’t work. My best ideas come when I’m not working. I can be doing literally anything else; cooking, walking, phoning a friend, doing a puzzle, anything that allows my brain some space from my business to step back and think creatively.”
Be creative as an entrepreneur by being open to absorbing and processing new information. Let novel points of view sit in the back of your mind until the inspiration you seek comes forward of its own accord. Let yourself be inspired.
Being creative as an entrepreneur
Clearing the way for creativity requires incorporating consistency and operating within a framework. It requires removing pointless decisions and creating routines and habits that will continue to serve you. It means being intentional with every second of your day, especially the morning. It means being open to learning outside your industry, scope and office.
Laying the foundations clears space for creativity to emerge. It makes room for ideas, experimentation and lets inspiration strike.
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