Being born as a creative genius happens only to some. That doesn’t mean that the rest of us can’t come up with great ideas at work. Quite the contrary: personal creative skills are like muscles that can be trained while “working out”. This works just great for me and it can work for you, too.

Make the creative leap happen: leave your normal path of thinking by setting the scene for creativity (see the list below).

Before I deep-dive into creativity while doing sports, here are some quick facts on creative theory to get a good grip of the topic. According to Wikipedia, “creativity is a phenomenon whereby something new and somehow valuable is formed”. So far, so good. In order to produce a new, valuable idea one has to leave the traditional paths of thinking and get to a state where one can produce a so-called “creative leap”. A creative leap is a pattern of thought that enables us to come up with something new.

Setting the scene for creativity

In order to be able to get to this point one has to set the right conditions to do so. Here is a short list of tips on how to foster creative thoughts:

  • Up and away: Leave your regular work space and take your creative task outside of your normal business environment.

  • Do not disturb: Create an environment where you can think without any disturbances.

  • Dream out loud: Get yourself in a state of conscious daydreaming about a certain question and tasks.

  • Idea management: Fill your very own idea notebook with all your creative leap ideas.

  • Self-criticism: Challenge your own ideas with highly provocative questions.

So where am I going with all this? And how does this connect to the headline? Well, here we go: Take a one-hour lunch break. Choose your preferred method of working out: cycling, running or even lifting weights. Let’s for now stick to a quick 45-minute run in the park. Plug in your headphones and select your favorite playlist in order to start. Just by doing so you already ticked the first two boxes of the list above. Now you start running with a specific task in mind. Let’s say: a new product design.

Your running track becomes a source of creativity - the sound of a crowded intersection, some walkers in the park or the smell of rain can be the solution of your creative task.
Your running track becomes a source of creativity – the sound of a crowded intersection, some walkers in the park or the smell of rain can be the solution of your creative task.
Now randomly try to spot different objects while running along and try to combine them in any imaginable way: A tree trunk and a lantern, a shoe and a dog, grass and the yelling horn of a car passing by.

Combining two things that don’t naturally belong together can start daydreaming processes.

What about a shoebox with a trunk print and an illumination once you open it? Or a shoe with Dalmatian fur patterns? You get the idea. Set your mind free and start daydreaming (and tick box No. 3). Effectively combining random elements on the run can easily create 20-30 rough ideas during a 45-minute run.

Back in the office you recap all the ideas and write them down in your idea notebook. Tick. Leave them there for a minimum of 24 hours, then open the pages again and challenge them with provocative questions:

  • How can I tweak this idea so that it would shock my boss?

  • How can I create something out of this that has never been shown before?

  • How can I make this idea so crazy that the PR department would start to scream reading it?

  • Where else could I use the idea in order to solve other problems?

  • How far can I take the idea to make it nearly surreal?

Tick et voilà. You not only ticked all boxes of the “create a creative environment” list, but you also created some ideas worth being called creative.

And apart from that you worked out and had fun during your lunch break.

4 COMMENTS

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by Mauro 25.11.2015
Sascha, this is an insightful exercise to strength and boost creativity and problem-solving. But if, after all that, you still don´t come up with a strong idea!? You´ll keep running until it clicks? Hehe!
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by Sascha 25.11.2015
Hi Mauro,



of course this advice is not a guarantee for a brilliant idea. Nothing is :) It is more a suggestion focussing on setting the right conditions to become creative. For some people even a walk in the park might work, others ride their bike. It doesn't matter as long as you get yourself into the right mind set and set the right triggers. Happy running!
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by Mauro 26.11.2015
Yes, definitely!



I think your sentence reflected it perfectly —"It doesn't matter as long as you get yourself into the right mindset and set the right triggers"



One as many ways to achieve that state. Just need to find it, exercise and continue to improve it. Cheers!
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by Nina Weihrauch (Moderator) 26.11.2015
Hi Mauro,

really cool to hear about your efforts to make the "creative leap" happen. I'm curious about your experiences and how did you achieve that state. Feel free to share your way to get there.



Best,

Nina
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