Do you have the courage to question the status quo and do things differently?
Creativity, I believe, is not a special trait found in certain persons; neither is it the exclusive preserve of selected individuals. Instead, it is more of a skill developed through having the patience to understand patterns, observe practices, and then take the risk to question them. As Isaac Newton said, “If I have ever made any valuable discoveries, it has been due more to patient attention than to any other talent.”
I believe everyone could be creative if they develop the courage to ask the odd questions, be curious without boundaries, and stretch conversations beyond the usual. In the course of my career, I have been privileged to work with individuals who are considered as being extraordinarily smart and gifted, and in studying these individuals, I realized that there is nothing extraordinary about them except that they possess powerful listening, observing, and questioning skills and are courageous to be authentic and advance ideas that may appear initially odd. With this, I learned that the opportunities to demonstrate creativity are not necessarily in the big things but are replete in our small daily activities.
I made it a rule to challenge the existing practices and norms for every job I took. All I sort to do was understand the purpose of the job and why things were done in certain ways, and once I did, it was easy to shift things around, and all the time, this resulted in noticeable improvements.
Asking the odd questions opens up the mind in different dimensions and promotes creative thinking even in the people around us; as such, settling with tradition should be an avoidable option. Some responses that amaze me when I ask people why they do things in a certain way are: “that is how I met it,” “that is how we have always done it,” “that is what I was told to do,” and “I don’t know.” You may be familiar with some of these responses and can even add more to the list. These responses seem like people opting to suspend their thinking and sticking to tradition and practices that may have no real bearing.
I believe everyone can ask why and demonstrate the courage to shift things around positively in the workplace, no matter how little, as this is what brings out the creative genius in us. According to Steve Jobs, “Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it… once you learn that you’ll never be the same again.”
What are the little changes you can make in your current role today?
What question are you currently not asking about what you do?