4 Things You Need to Know To Unleash Your Hidden Creativity

by Madeline Popelka

People have been telling me what to do my whole life. Parents, teachers, bosses have all had power over me. These authority figures in our lives have taught us what we know about the world. They tell us what to do, how to do it and if we don't listen to them, there may be consequences. There is no room for creativity.

When I talk about creativity, I'm not just talking about being an artist or musician. I'm talking about original ideas, innovation and bringing value in ways that haven't been done before. What keeps people from doing things differently?

For some, it may be because adopting someone else's way is easier. Your boss tells you what to do, and you do it. There's no thinking involved, and everyone is happy.

For me, it was the fear of being wrong. I've always had my own ideas, but never wanted to share them because I didn't want to be wrong. If I was wrong, I wouldn't get a good grade, or I wouldn't get promoted. I thought there will be consequences if you're wrong.

It took trial and error, time and confidence to lose that fear. It also took escaping from those people in my life who wanted to control my actions. Once I understood these four facts, I was able to unleash my creativity and feel free.

1. Just because your thoughts or ways are different, it doesn't mean it's wrong.

As Steve Jobs once said, "Everything around you that you call life, was made up by people that were no smarter than you." Think about it. You see the world from a different perspective from everyone else. You live in a different environment, consume different content and hand around different people. Your brain works differently.

Everyone has their way of doing things, but you can reach the same, or better, results by taking a different approach. Once you lose the fear of being wrong, your creativity will flow more freely.

2. Soak up inspiration, don't wait for it to come to you.

You can't wait to be inspired. You need to be proactive, and put yourself in an environment where it can happen for you. (Hint: It's not going to happen in your cubicle.) When I worked in the corporate world, I'd go eight, nine, 10 hours without stepping outside because I didn't want my boss to think I was slacking off. One of my favorite perks about working for myself is the flexible schedule. I love being able to take a walk in the middle of the day without people questioning where I've been.

Now, I work inside my home office for a maximum of four hours a day. The rest of the time, I'm at a coffee shop (anywhere I can find free WiFi) soaking up the music, the chill vibes and the smells of the food and drinks. I read articles and books that aren't directly tied to my work. I have lunch and great conversations with people who aren't in my line of business. I people watch. I can have a beer to get my juices flowing.

I'm constantly soaking up inspiration from everything I come into contact with, so I have a library of inspiration tucked in my brain for projects, challenges and solutions as they come.

3. Don't think too hard.

Sometimes when you need an original idea, it just doesn't come to you. Stop trying, and stop thinking. Instead, get out. Take a break. Take a walk. Get our of your head for a moment. Let your thoughts bubble up as they come, instead of trying to force one out. Those "ah-ha" moments will come to you when you're least expecting them, because you're not thinking.

4. Everyone has the ability to be creative.

Everyone is born with creativity. Children are perhaps the best example: They're naturally curious and creative in everything they do, from eating to playing to singing. Even if you think you're the least creative person on Earth, try to remember your 5-year-old self. I guarantee you had some amazingly creative (maybe crazy) ideas back then.

As we get older, we slowly unlearn how to be creative from people telling us what to do at home, in school, or at work. It's up to us to practice creativity as adults in everything that we do. Challenge yourself. Get out of your routine; shake things up. It only takes a couple minutes a day to keep your creativity and unique thinking alive.