Creativity as a Treasure Hunt

It’s not enough to be creative, you have to be creative at something.

Creativity is a doing, rather than a being. The doing comes from discovering goals, and achieving them. I say discovering goals, rather than setting goals, because we’re good at setting goals — New Year’s resolutions spring to mind — but then forgetting all about them.

Usually we forget about the goals we set as New Year’s resolutions because the goals, although worthwhile in themselves, weren’t “real” for us. We didn’t explore the goals deeply, and therefore didn’t have any deep motivation to achieve those goals.

Motivation is all-important for creativity. If you’re highly motivated to achieve a goal, you’ll shock yourself with how creatively you set about achieving the goal. For example, imagine you’re at the beach. You watch a friend swimming out beyond the surf. Suddenly, you see a shadow on the water, and you realize it’s a shark. You’re highly motivated to get your friend out of the water, and you’ll be creative in your efforts to achieve that goal.

This kind of deep motivation is important for any creative task. The successful achievement of the task has to matter to you.

To discover what your goals are, you need to ask yourself questions

The questions you ask aren’t important. However, it is important that they be open-ended questions. That is, that they have more than one answer, and that they lead to other questions.

Asking yourself questions opens you to possibilities. Chances are, that unless you develop a program of systematically asking yourself questions, you will never discover all the possibilities your life holds.

Asking questions is a simple technique, yet it’s immensely powerful. It’s the heart of creativity. Up to the age of eight, all kids are creative. They ask all kinds of questions. They’re determined to find the answers, so they experiment in all kinds of creative ways to find them. To a kid, a question is a lot of fun.

To be creative, you need to constantly ask questions, and experiment with the answers you come up with. If you do this playfully, not only will you have fun, but you’ll improve your life in all kinds of ways.

Your answers to your questions will surprise you. They may even shock you. Great! If the answers shock you, it means that you’re accessing your subconscious, and your creativity lurks in your subconscious mind.

What questions (the treasure map) you want the answers (the treasure) to?

Initially, you’ll find the question-asking process difficult. As adults, we’re not comfortable admitting that we don’t know everything. It’s important to get into the habit of asking questions, so that you stop feeling threatened by questions, and so that not knowing the answers stops bothering you.

What questions can you ask?

That depends on what you want, or what you want to know. You can start with the good old stand-bys: who, what, how, when, where and why. When you ask yourself who, what, how, when, where and why questions, you need to build on your answers, so that you can get to the important questions, the ones which, when you answer them, will make an immense difference in your life.

For example, you might ask yourself: “How can I spend less time reading e-mail?”

Before brainstorming ways in which you could spend less time reading e-mail, you explore this question further:

Why do I want to spend less time reading e-mail?
So that I can finish the important projects I’m working on.

Why do I want to finish the important projects I’m working on?
Because it increases my value to the company.

Why do I want to increase my value to my company?
So that I will get a pay rise this year, increase my job security, and build up my investments.

Why do I want a secure job, and to build up my investments?
So that I can retire to the country in five years.

Why do I want to retire to the country?
So that I can relax and enjoy my life.

You can see that going through this question and answer process lets you ferret out your motivation. And having real motivation for finding an answer to your e-mail question not only ensures that you’ll be creative in your attempts to find solutions, but also that you’ll put those solutions into practice.

Your questions will lead you to your goals, but don’t set your goals yet! You don’t know enough about yourself to set your goals… not yet. You’ve probably set goals before. Some you achieved, and some you didn’t.

Just ask questions, rather than setting goals. You will eventually discover what your goals are. By the time you get to that stage, “setting” your goals will be irrelevant. You will know exactly what your goals are, because you’ve discovered them, and you’ll have the motivation to move toward your goals creatively.

Your questions can be about whatever you like. The idea is to get back into the habit of asking questions, just as you did when you were a kid. Don’t be afraid of asking “stupid” questions. Your questions can be as simple, or as profound, as suits you. Your questions always lead to something: to a discovery about yourself. However, try to make your questions specific. An example: what could I do increase my sales by 10% this month?

Ask yourself your questions in writing. Then remember to find the answers to those questions that you’ve posed. It’s important to write your questions down, too.

Once you get the hang of asking questions and finding answers, guess what?
You’ve found the creative treasure.

Copyright © 2003 by Angela Booth
Veteran multi-published author and copywriter Angela Booth crafts words for your business — words to sell, educate or persuade. E-books and e-courses on Web site. FREE ezines for writers and small biz:

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