“The brain is a wonderful organ. It starts the moment you get up and doesn’t stop until you get into the office.” – Robert Frost
We tend to put a lot of emphasis on intelligence. I.Q. tests are supposed to tell us what type of person we are, what jobs we’ll have, how successful we’ll be, or how much money we’ll make.
The truth is that when it comes to being highly successful, anything over an I.Q. of 120 is pretty much all the same. In some cases, having a genius level intelligence can even work against you.
That means that even if you’re no smarter than most people, you still have the potential to wield amazing creative powers.
So why are so few people highly creative?
Because there are certain bad habits that kill your creativity. And like all bad habits, they can be broken if you are willing to work at it.
Here are eight of the very worst bad habits that could be holding you back every day:
1. Creating and evaluating at the same time
You can’t drive a car in first gear and reverse at the same time. Likewise, you shouldn’t try to use different types of thinking simultaneously.
Creating means generating new ideas, visualizing, looking ahead, considering the possibilities. Evaluating means analyzing and judging, picking apart ideas and sorting them into piles of good and bad, useful and useless.
If you find yourself evaluating too soon in the creative process, stop.
First, you must create. Then judge all you want.
2. The Expert Syndrome
In this day and age it is easy to become a guru. Or at least to pretend to be one. Be a student, not a follower. Do your research. Make an educated decision.
Come think of it, the most successful people in the world did what others told them would never work. They knew something about their own idea that even the gurus didn’t know.
Every path to success is different.
3. Fear of failure
It’s silly if you think about it.
You cannot know the answer to a question unless you ask it. The same principle applies to creativity.
If you let the fear of failure talk you into procrastination and laziness, then you’ll have successfully killed any type of creative mindset.
No one wants to make mistakes or fail. But if you try too hard to avoid failure, you’ll also avoid success.
It has been said that to increase your success rate, you should aim to make more mistakes. In other words, take more chances and you’ll succeed more often. Those few really great ideas you come up with will more than compensate for all the dumb mistakes you make.
4. Fear of ambiguity or uncertainty
Most people like things to make sense. They want the world explained in simple truths. Sadly, the truth is never simple, nor 100% accurate.
Life is uncertain, paradoxical, and you could well argue that we know nothing of importance. Nothing for sure.
There are some things you’ll never understand and some problems you’ll never solve.
Much like using fear in order to come up with a brilliant idea, creativity requires chaos in order to reach its maximum potential.
5. Lack of confidence
“I have offended God and mankind because my work didn’t reach the quality it should have.” ― Leonardo da Vinci
Creativity and self-doubt are like Batman and the Joker. An unstoppable force against an unmovable object. Something like that.
The truth is, that you’d be hard-pressed to find any creative individual who didn’t doubt his own work. But the idea is not to let doubt cripple your creative abilities.
When you understand that ideas often seem crazy at first, that failure is just a learning experience, and that nothing is impossible, you are on your way to becoming more confident and more creative.
Instead of dividing the world into the possible and impossible, divide it into what you’ve tried and what you haven’t tried. There are a million pathways to success.
6. Being discouraged by the critics
It is sad, but true. A lot of creative individual listen to those who tell them not to do something. Or those who hate their ideas.
What to do about it?
Focus on doing your thing, one day at a time, and stop worrying what others think or have to say about your work.
7. Being overwhelmed by information
It’s called “analysis paralysis,” the condition of spending so much time thinking about a problem and cramming your brain with so much information that you lose the ability to act.
It’s been said that information is to the brain what food is to the body. True enough. But just as you can overeat, you can also overthink.
Acting on a good plan today is better than waiting for a perfect plan tomorrow.
In other words, “don’t think, just do!”
8. Being trapped by false limits
Limits are self-imposed. A simple notion, but a lot of people will limit even that. They become emotionally reactive when they’re being told that there are no limits.
There is no box.
You just think there’s one.
You’ve been taught there’s one. Social conditioning has effectively trained you into thinking that you can only do certain things.
Be open to anything. Step outside your comfort zone. Consider how those in unrelated areas do what they do. What seems impossible today may seem surprisingly doable tomorrow.
If you recognize some of these bad habits in yourself, don’t panic. DO NOT PANIC! Do you hear me?
Because the first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one.
How about you? What bad habit has been stifling your creativity?