Creativity – Thinking Outside The Box

Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to my blog!

Many of us believe creativity is some elusive quality inherent in others, but missing in ourselves. It is defined as inventiveness, imagination, innovation, originality and individuality. To be creative, we must think outside the box. If we worry about following preset rules, we will never venture beyond accepted boundaries. Being creative requires that we ignore “the rules.” If we follow what’s already been done, it is imitative, not creative.

Creativity does not require a lengthy opus or an earth shattering event.  Sometimes, short and sweet will get us to the point. Some forms of creativity are privately practiced, while others are publicly acclaimed with far-reaching results. Let’s take a look at some different forms of creativity as demonstrated by a children’s author, artists, a car designer and the winners of hot dog eating contests.

I came across an interesting page in the September, 2015 issue of Long Island Pulse magazine, “Pulse Rate” on p.194. No author was listed so I’m assuming it was written by the editor of the magazine. It listed a number of examples which got me thinking.

According to the article, …”the famous children’s author, Dr. Seuss, wrote “Green Eggs and Ham” as a result of a bet made by the editor that the author could not write a book using fifty words or less. “

I read the book again to analyze how he did it. Dr. Seuss used the same fifty words to tell the nonsensical story which is written for kids, so nonsense works. He used repetition, inverted order, punctuation, rhyme, pattern and illustrations to write a best-seller which remains one of the most popular kids’ books ever. He ignored tradition, did it his way to prove a point, and the rest is history.

Let’s consider how Andy Warhol’s, “Campbell Soup Cans” made him world-famous. He didn’t design this product. He photographed and greatly enlarged the image to help him gain recognition as a creative artist. He was the first person to see the potential in a product that already existed. He was rewarded for conceiving the idea which had never been done before.

How about those monochromatic canvases in modern art museums? You know the ones. People keep putting their reading glasses on and taking them off, walking forwards and backwards, trying to see what the fuss is all about. Two examples,: “Onement VI” by Barnett Newman which sold at Sotheby’s in 2013 for 43.8 million dollars for his representation of cascading  electric blue and  “White On White” by Kazimer Malevich who became famous for his barely visible use of texture and variations of white on an off-center,  skewed box set in a rectangle.

Maybe we look at these things, and don’t see the genius. However, somebody who matters in the artistic field thinks differently. Their work is hanging in museums. How many of your works garner attention? They’re rewarded by other creative minds for taking the ordinary and representing it in a new way.

That brings us to the car engineer, John DeLorean, who in 1975 manufactured a stainless steel car with doors that opened from bottom to top, instead of the traditional right to left sideways movement we’ve come to expect. The car resembled a bird in flight when its doors were both opened. This already respected automotive leader gained work-wide fame for his concept and execution. If the doors opened in the traditional way, it may have been viewed as just another car.

In America, hot dog eating contests are popular in the summer months. You might wonder how many ways can there be to eat a hot dog? If you think only one way, then that’s your first mistake and you would never win any contests with this limited view.

Let’s take a look at what the winners did. The rules stated the contestants must eat the hot dog, the bun and may drink water. No rule existed as to the order or combination. Most contestants followed the tradition of eating the hot dog in the bun and sipping water after swallowing. However, this was proven to be a most inefficient method.

In 2012, Japanese Takeru Kobayashi won the contest at the New York State Fair in Syracuse by soaking the buns in warm water to constrict his stomach, and swallowing the hot dogs separately. This man, who weighed 128 pounds and stood 5 feet 6 inches tall, ate 110 hotdogs in ten minutes! No one had ever done it this way. He was within the guidelines, but realizing the inherent limitations of the traditional way, changed the methodology which led to success.

This brings us to American Joey Chestnut, who in 2015 won the Nathan’s hot dog eating contest by splitting the hot dog in half and soaking the buns in hot water. Weighing over 200 pounds and standing at 6 feet 3 inches, he ate 61 hot dogs and buns in ten minutes! Again, he was within the guidelines, but changed the methodology to emerge a winner.

Duh! Why didn’t I think of that? You can just imagine how many people asked this question after witnessing the success of others who thought outside the box. Creativity does not imply the impossible.

Often, it’s a matter of discarding old ideas and habits to see solutions and possibilities in a new way. I know that to be successful we must throw out all previously accepted knowledge and start at the beginning. If we blindly accept others’ conclusions, how do we know they haven’t made a mistake or omission in their conclusions? Do it yourself from the beginning to verify facts, then keep going. Approach from a different angle. Question the status quo. Where’s the inefficiency? The gap? The not-yet-tried option?

It doesn’t matter if it hasn’t been done before. That’s what being creative is all about. It only takes one person with the power to say yes to change the outcome of your life. Ignore the nay sayers and stay the course. Analyze. Think. Create. Publicize.

Good luck. Please let me know how you do. I’d love to hear from you.

Next week’s blog post: Creating A Non-Toxic Home Environment

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