Self-awareness is the key to success. Peter Drucker has introduced several dimensions of self-awareness in his book, Managing Oneself. Here are a few examples from his book.
- How do you learn?
- How do you communicate with others?
- What are your values?
- Are you a decision maker or an advisor?
The idea in Managing Oneself is to know your strengths in each dimension and work from your strengths.
You Can Improve Your Weaknesses
I believe it’s important to know your strengths and weaknesses, but I don’t think you have to stick to your strengths and avoid your weaknesses. You can work on your weaknesses to improve them.
For example, I have already written two posts about improving your decision making skills. The first post is about four simple steps to use when making decisions. The second post is about improving your decision making skills.
Creativity vs. Problem Solving
This post will be about another dimension of self-awareness, creativity vs. problem solving. This dimension wasn’t mentioned in Managing Oneself. It’s a distinction that I observed among people.
Throughout the years, I have observed that people can be divided into two, creatives and problem solvers. Creatives are the artists, painters, musicians, poets, writers, and so on. Problem solvers are typically engineers, medical doctors, and so on.
As a software developer, I’m more of a problem solver than a creative. This post is written more for problem solvers. Who knows, maybe it would benefit some creatives as well.
Problem solvers need creativity as well.
Obviously, the society needs both, creatives as well as problem solvers. However, some creatives are compensated royally for their efforts. Moreover, a little bit of creativity would help a lot when solving problems as well. Therefore, I want to introduce a method for the problem solvers to improve their creativity.
Problem solvers could trigger their creativity by triggering their curiosity. They can trigger their curiosity by asking a set of questions to themselves and trying to come up with answers to these questions.
Define Creative Challenges as Problems to be Solved
In a way, by asking questions, problem solvers are defining their creative challenges as a problem to be solved. Then, they use their problem solving skills to answer those questions. That way, they use their strength to overcome their creative challenges.
I have already written two posts about the value of asking good questions. In the first post, I argue that asking good questions is the first step to success. In the second post, I argue that asking good questions is the only way to solve problems. Now, we are using the same method to trigger our creativity.
Ask Yourself a Set of Relevant Questions
When you need a creative solution at any moment, ask yourself a set of relevant questions instead of waiting for inspiration.
Suppose that you want to write a blog post about your business, but you don’t know what to write about. Instead of waiting for inspiration, write down a few questions and try to come up with several answers to each question.
Here are a few examples:
- What can I write about my business?
- How does my business benefit its customers?
- Which message do I want to convey to my prospects?
- What makes my business different than its competitors?
- What is the unique selling point of my business?
- Why should a customer choose my business instead of others?
- How can I provide value to my readers in a blog post?
- How can I write a post that would go viral on social media?
These are just some sample questions off the top of my head. Now, here’s a critical tip.
Don’t try to come up with the perfect question or with the perfect answer. Just try to come up with as many questions and answers as you can.
The problem solvers are usually perfectionists. They see things in black and white. A solution is either correct or not. That attitude might be correct when solving an engineering problem, but you have to drop that attitude when exercising your creativity.
Release Your Breaks
Nothing’s right or wrong when exercising your creativity. You have to exercise your creativity muscles as much as you can without censoring yourself or judging your ideas. Don’t think hard. Just start writing and let the ideas flow off the top of your head.
Just write down whatever pops up in your mind, no matter how silly it might sound. Just come up with twelve random questions and twelve random answers to each question. If you don’t judge your questions and answers, you can easily do that and end up with 144 ideas to write a blog post about.
Pick Up the Best Ideas
Now, pick three or more of those 144 ideas and compose a blog post around them. Is it possible? Yes, it is possible. Just connect the ideas that you have selected with each other in a creative way.
Remember, creativity isn’t about creating something out of nothing. Creativity is about finding new relationships between already existing ideas.
We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Working from our strengths is a good idea, but we don’t have to ignore our weaknesses. We can use specific strategies to improve our weaknesses.
If you’re a problem solver and creativity is one of your weaker points, you can use your problem solving skills to trigger your creativity. Just define your creativity challenge as a problem and use your problem solving skills to solve that problem.
Come up with 12 or more questions about the challenge at hand and come up with 12 or more answers for each question. Neither the questions, nor the answers have to be perfect.
Once you complete this exercise, you’ll end up with 144 creative ideas. Now, use one or many of those ideas to solve your creativity challenge.
Software developer with a Ph.D. and 15 years of experience. I write daily on personal development and life lessons. Sign up to my email newsletter to receive a weekly overview of my latest content on personal development and life lessons.