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In this weekly series, Todd Dewett, PhD, shares the tips respected and motivated managers use to improve rapport, navigate tricky situations, build better relationships, and drive the business forward. Each week, we'll release two tips ranging from avoiding the dreaded micromanagement to managing a multigenerational workforce, cultivating better listening skills, and developing an understanding of your organization's politics. Check back every Wednesday for more Management Tips.
This course qualifies for 4.5 Category A professional development units (PDUs) through lynda.com, PMI Registered Education Provider #4101.
The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.
- One of the biggest obstacles to personal growth and creativity is remembering what it was like to be kid. When you were a kid, you were extremely creative. Your imagination never stopped. Every new issue or task was a mystery to be explored because you didn't have strictly developed patterns of thinking. You lacked a million routines that adults rely on every day. However, as kids continue to grow, their way of thinking about issues is slowly but surely constrained because the environments we occupy have rules.
So a child goes to school and learns to go to their homeroom instead of wandering and exploring the building. They learn where to sit. They learn the correct procedure for everything, from test taking, to how to walk down the hall, and even how to ask permission to use the restroom. They learn many required routines. And research shows that around the third grade, creativity plateaus or declines in most kids. It gets worse in high school. In college, even worse. Then as working adults, it goes off the charts, with constraints including the route they drive to work, all of the procedures followed at work, and so on.
And we also take on mortgages and car payments, get married and have children. Now, I'm not saying these things are bad. I am saying that the result of this never-ending series of new rules, duties and constraints has a big impact on our capacity for creative thought. In essence, they encourage our brain to stop thinking consciously and just operate on autopilot. We over-rely on unconscious routines, and that means a lot less creativity.
So let me give you one free and very useful solution. I want you to identify and select one or two daily routines you currently rely on. For example, the sequence of your morning routine at home. How about how you schedule your work day? Your hobbies, what you watch on television, who you have lunch with, and so on. For at least two months, choose to change one or two of those routines. It's amazing how your brain will react. In a literal sense, when you choose to not follow one of your automatic pilot routines, it's a mental jolt.
Your brain wakes up, stops routine thought, and becomes more actively conscious. And that's when the likelihood of novel thinking goes up significantly. Try this and see how it works for you. It will feel odd at first, but you'll get used to it. Then in a few months, try targeting a new routine. Soon enough, you might reclaim a nice chunk of the creativity you enjoyed so much as a child.
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