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The truth exists.

The truth exists.

A young boy was watching his grandfather carve an animal out of a piece of wood. The grandfather finally finished and presented a buffalo to his grandson. The young boy looked at his grandfather and said “how did you know there was a buffalo in there”?

With each creative problem, it’s a bit like the buffalo in the wood. You have to believe it’s in there and keep stripping away the layers until it presents itself. That’s called an idea. Sometimes, we stop before the idea fully presents itself. The challenge is to keep carving.

Physical vs emotional labour.

Physical vs emotional labour.

We are lucky enough in our industry, that we aren’t stuck in the hot sun, doing 8 hours of physical labour a day. It’s not what we signed up for and luckily, we all have enough talent and intellect to make it. But where we do have to exert ourselves is with emotional labour. Emotional labour are the tough choices we have to train our brains to make to perform in this industry. Emotional labour is practicing and training your brain to have the discipline to produce work for 8 hours a day. Emotional labour is smiling when you don’t want to. It’s keeping calm in situations of panic and stress. It’s working when you don’t feel like it. It’s holding back when you want to let loose. And most importantly, it’s bringing you A-Game, be it creativity, design or energy to your clients when your body and mind is trying to say no.

 

Issac Asimov published more than 400 books in his lifetime. Every single morning he woke up, walked across his apartment and sat down at his old manual typewriter and he typed, for 6 whole hours. It didn’t matter to him if it was amazing work or crap, he knew he could sort it out later. But he decided that his job was to type and therefore trained his brain to believe that he was going to type no matter what. And that’s emotional labour.

Defining creativity.

Defining creativity.

There may not be any concept that has so many differing opinions on what it means. Creativity is intelligence having fun, creativity is putting two things together for the first time, creativity is about thinking different.  

For me, creativity is first and foremost about creating something. Coming up with ideas is not creativity. 98% of all ideas aren’t made. That’s the opposite of creativity. Creativity is a maker. If you’re not making something, you’re a dreamer.

The best brands solve the simplest problems.

The best brands solve the simplest problems.

Big ideas don’t solve big problems. Small, brilliant ideas solving the simplest problems at scale are what changes. Big ideas are too difficult for the average consumer to grasp. Small ideas like Uber, AirBnB and Netflix, executed at scale are what work. The real challenge brands have is identifying the problem their consumers have. For that brands need to be outward focused, not inward. But remember, asking the consumer what they want they will just say a faster horse. Ask different questions. Spend as much time as you can in the problem.

The Ripple Effect.

The Ripple Effect.

A great book came out this year called the Ripple Effect written by Dr Greg Wells which I found incredibly interesting. Below is the link to a podcast where he talks about it but in a nutshell, he looks at the effects on creative and work performance of sleeping, eating and exercise, in that order. And how they affect each other as sleep as primary and most important weapon…

 

SLEEP: We all sleep in 90-minute cycles and need 5 cycles (7.5 hours a night) for a full night’s sleep. When we’re awake, our mind is too distracted to solve complex problems so it waits until we’re asleep. But it only solves problems for the final 3 hours. The first 4.5 hours or 3 cycles are just used for rest. Especially as a creative, solving problems is what we are here to do but unless we are getting 7.5 hours sleep a night, we’re not able to fully apply our brain power to the problem at hand.

 

EATING: If we sleep well, we are generally a lot more prepared to eat healthier foods; foods that contain fibre, protein, fruit and veg. If we sleep poorly, and are tired, we look for energy elsewhere, namely in high carb/sugary foods. (Think back to your last hangover and ask yourself if you would eat a salad). And then, if we eat properly, science has shown how healthy foods, especially protein, enables our brains to work properly, firing better and accessing more parts of it, making us more creative beings.

 

EXERCISE: And lastly, if we don’t sleep or eat well, we don’t have the energy to exercise. We feel too lethargic. And exercise is hugely important as a creative. As little as 15-minutes repetitive, rhythmic exercise like walking, running or cycling (especially in nature) has been proven to open our brains up, let them function better and allow us see problems and solutions much clearer. His advice is next time you’re about to tackle a brief, go for a 15-minute walk to clear your mind and get your brain working properly.

 

Creativity is about spiralling into control

Creativity is about spiralling into control.

To be creative you must let yourself go. Let yourself go down thousands of uncomfortable and new roads. You have to lose control. But once you do, once your mind has been stretched and explored the corners you’ll start seeing the things that matter and piecing together the right thoughts to find the creative idea. It’s about putting your mind into a hurricane state and then spiralling into control.