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Creating Successful Leaders

By Margaret Smith, UXL:

I was surprised to discover two really helpful articles in the recent USA Weekend insert ( in my Stillwater Gazette. I decided to share some of the most important ideas with my readers.

Last week I wrote about an article on building a successful business based on the perfect team. This week, I’d like to focus on an article addressing a different subject—that of sparking creativity—by author MeKenna Grant, and featuring advice from creativity specialist Tina Seelig.

Now, before we dive into some great tips for supercharging our creativity, I think it’s important that we face a common hang up that many of us have when it comes to “being creative.” The problem is that many people believe that we’re either born with creativity, or we’re out of luck—we’re “uncreative” people. It’s like picturing creativity as a gift we’re given that cannot be taught, handed off, or fostered.

This way of thinking about creativity is downright wrong, and it limits potential, says Tina Seelig, author of inGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity and award-winning educator at Stanford University. Seelig urges readers to understand that creativity can be easily taught and learned.

Interested in learning to ignite your own creativity and start embracing challenges and creating new ideas? See Seelig’s handy tips below.

Use Metaphors and Analogies to Connect the Unfamiliar
Seelig suggests turning to devices commonly reserved for literature to get your creative juices flowing. This means using metaphors to compare things to one another and connect unfamiliar pairs. “By comparing one thing to another, you uncover fascinating parallels that open up a world of new ideas,” she says. “Connecting unexpected people, places, objects, and ideas provides a huge boose to your imagination.”

Make Space to Be Creative
It’s not always easy to make room for new ideas, different ways of thinking, and different possibilities. This means it’s important that you work to give yourself creative space. “Creative space leads to creative work.” As a great example, Seelig turns to creative animation powerhouse Pixar, the company behind movies such as Toy Story and Finding Nemo. We learn by this example that creative space can be made by working with a group. It’ll help you gain insight from others. Seelig explains that it’s best to have “a group composed of individuals who bring different perspectives to the table, who respect different working styles, and who resolve conflicts along the way.”

As a final note, Seelig reminds us of the all-important, final ingredient when it comes to creativity: “Great teams also have a healthy dose of playfulness.” Add a little more fun to your next brainstorm, and you’ll be sure to generate some fresh ideas.


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