Break Free of Traditional Thinking

“Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy!”

--- Ms. Frizzle

We live in a society where most people think and do the same things. Those of us who want to become daily creatives must think differently in order to create something different.

This is true for both art and the workplace.

Nothing can grow in ice, and nothing can move once it’s frozen. Traditional thinking is like a great frost that freezes our brains and keeps our creativity stuck in place.

If we ever want to create something new or think more creatively in the workplace, we need to unthaw our creativity by changing our traditional thinking.

The dangers of thinking like everyone else is that, when faced with a problem, we will only see the solutions that everyone else does. What kind of benefit does this give our employers?

Our coworkers?

Our friends and family?

If we can only see what everyone else does, then we’re nothing special and our work is nothing worth remembering.

Unfortunately, far too many people in leadership positions in business foster this kind of traditional thinking among their employees. When there is a task to be completed, they give their employees only a few options, and often the same few options.

The truth is there is always another option, one that can’t be seen unless you think creatively. Of course, like I mentioned before, those who can truly think creatively are those who have exercises their creative brains with artistic muses.

To break free of traditional thinking, you need to change your mindset. Here are some practices to get you started:

Become a sponge

Is there someone in your life that refuses to listen to new, crazy ideas? Of course there is --- everyone knows someone like that.

This type of person is set in old ways and believes the best ideas have already been thought of. A true creative will become the opposite of this person.

Instead of repelling new ideas, embrace them! No, you don’t have to agree with every new idea that you hear, but hear them out and give them a little thought.

Get rid of phrases like “This won’t work,” “It can’t be done,” “That’s stupid.” These phrases freeze creativity and will trap you in traditional thinking.

Be a human guinea pig

The best way to learn something new is to experiment. Do you like sushi? If you’ve never tried it before, you’d never know. So try a sushi restaurant instead of the same tavern!

Trying new restaurants is a great way to break out of your usual rut and experiment with new foods.

Taking new routes to work is another great way to experiment within your daily life.

During my senior year of college, I realized I wanted to spend more time writing. So I started a blog to experiment with different topics and writing styles.

In addition, I used this opportunity to experiment with different social media marketing techniques to drive traffic to my blog.

Although most of the blog articles I wrote in the beginning I have since taken down, I developed my blog to what it is today and adapted that information for the creation of this book.

Although I would have probably gotten better grades if I focused all my attention on my schoolwork, you wouldn’t be reading this if I didn’t step outside of my comfort zone and experiment with a blog (hey, I’m not complaining).

Be forward thinking

The way things were done ten years ago is not necessarily the way they should be done today. Hell, even the way some things were three years ago is obsolete!

We like in a world were everything is changing at a rapid pace, thanks to technology.

That means that, in order to survive and grow in the future, we need to constantly be looking at what old standard we can improve on.

If the head honchos at Google said, “We’re a search engine, let’s keep our focus on that and not become distracted,” there would be no Gmail, no Google Suite, no research in artificial intelligence and augmented reality, and no Android operating system.

If executives at the Walt Disney company said, “We create animated films for kids and families. That’s what we’ve always done, and that’s what we’ll always do,” they would have never purchased LucasFilm, Marvel, and 21st Century Fox.

Imagine all the money from Star Wars and the Avengers they would have lost out on if Disney CEO Robert Iger didn’t think ahead!

Steve Jobs had success for years in the computer business. If he refused to consider any other products that Apple could offer its customers, there would be no iPod, iPhone, and iPad. It’s hard to image a world where Steve Jobs was not forward thinking!

Conclusion

Creative thinking is how society moves forward. If we all followed the “tried-and-true,” there would be no innovation.

Art is no different. Try to define what traditional thinking means to your chosen artistic muse.

As I mentioned earlier, in my muse of magic, one of the traditional thoughts is to “perform the classics.” Once you’re able to define traditional thinking, you can then start to think creatively.

If everyone in magic is performing the classics, I can ask myself, “What’s so appealing about these classics? Why have they survived for so long?”

Whatever my answer is, I can then take that and apply it to something new.

Using art as practice for creative thinking, you can then apply it to your professional life.

What aspects of your job do you do just because it’s always been done that way?

How can you improve it?

These are the questions good employers want their employees to be asking themselves.

Those who try to improve their jobs and organizations by asking these questions are the ones who will be leaders in the future.

Ryan Lally