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If Other People Think Your Creative Ideas Are Crazy, Ignore Them

11/02/2013 06:43 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 10:52 EST

Are you creative? Do you have lots of ideas that everyone else thinks are crazy?

Ignore them, advises author Hugh Macleod in his book Ignore Everybody and 39 Other Keys to Creativity. He claims no one really knows if your idea is any good, and friends and family are not the best ones to ask because they don't know your working world.

They are likely scared that your idea will change you, and therefore your relationship with them. As he says, "Great ideas alter the power balance in relationships that's why great ideas are initially resisted."

We also tend to use what other people are doing as our measuring gauge, and so MacLeod finds that we give up far too easily. Certainly in his book The Dip, Seth Godin, observes that often we give up when success is just around the corner.

Ever blunt in his comments, MacLeod points out that "if somebody in your industry is more successful than you, it's probably because he works harder at it than you do." Hmm. He goes on to add that when you are good at anything, it makes it look easy, and it is never easy. Ever. A point that people conveniently forget, he adds.

For years I did not consider myself creative, mainly because I was taking a very narrow definition of the word. I couldn't paint or sew, so therefore I wasn't creative. I have since come to realize that yes, I am creative, but in a different way to say my daughter who is creative in everything she does, from knitting to graphic design.

These days creativity and innovation are touted as the panacea to the world's problems. Stephen Shapiro, author of Best Practices are Stupid says we are not asking the right questions and so as a result, we don't come up with the right answers. And it is not so much about thinking outside the box, but maybe turning the box upside down so we see it from a different angle.

One story that Shapiro shared was of the challenges facing Houston Airport, where luggage would be available within eight minutes but passengers were at the luggage carousel within one minute and disgruntled about having to wait. Staff were looking at how they could speed up the delivery of luggage, but it just wasn't possible. The answer -- they created a longer path to collect luggage -- eight minutes -- so luggage and passengers arrived at the same time. A brilliant illustration of how when we look at the challenge from a different angle, creative solutions can be found.

Everyone is born creative claims MacLeod, but unfortunately as we move through childhood, our creativity is stifled. Having to colour within the lines, restricts the child's ability to think and create. But he urges us to listen if we have a wee voice asking for our crayons back.

And actually I have done just that. After a recent coaching session with an artist, we have decided to barter our services. So she is teaching me to paint, and I am continuing with the coaching via Skype. How cool is that.

But I know that creativity is not something you can just buy. If you're truly talented, you don't need the fancy props. You just are. But that doesn't mean that you can never be creative - it just means that you are perhaps creative in different aspects of your life -- cooking, decorating, gardening, writing or coming up with names for businesses, whatever...

So I encourage you to look at your creativity through a different lens. Who knows, there may be a kernel of creativity hidden deep in your core, just waiting to be unlocked and let loose on the world.

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