Great ideas, creative thought, and innovative solutions, are the desire of many these days. We live and work in a largely creative economy. And, thus, I often find myself in discussions about how to get more and better creativity within a team or an organization. Here is the simple answer: intentional creativity requires intentional influence.
You see, ideas start much earlier than many of us realize. By the time I sit down with my notebook and a pen, much of my creative potential has already been developed by my influences to that point. Further, the output I'll have in any given moment will also be influenced significantly by my influences at the time. Finally, the behaviors I exhibit when it comes to my creative process will also be significantly driven by said influences. And so, you see, the final output of my creativity has everything to do with my influences. It works like this: new influence drives new behavior, and this leads to new outcomes and new creativity. Or consider similar influence, similar behavior, similar outcome, similar output.
For example, many artists have discovered the power of routine in their creative life. My grandfather Dr. Don Welch, an accomplished poet and philosopher, would work on his poems while walking the alleys of his small town. Great composers and artists of all genres have been religious about their routine, because these influences drive similar behavior and thus output. Like the wheel ruts on a bumpy trail, routine is the easier path to consistent creating. Yet, if we wanted something new and different, changing the influence would get it for us. Would my grandfather's poems have been different if he was walking the streets of Chicago or LA? Absolutely. New influence, new outcome.
It's important for creatives, and leaders of creatives, to recognize the value of both routine and variance. Intentional influence is key. Are you needing a diversity of ideas? How diverse are your influences? Are you struggling with consistent creative output? How is your routine? The bottom line is, our ideas start very early on before we ever engage in creative thought. To curate our influences well is to curate our output well. Be intentional about what you take in and where you place yourself. Creativity is a lifestyle, not a job function.