1. You ARE different; you are YOU
No one needs to try to be who they really are. You are already unique in who you are & just being YOU. No one on this planet has exactly the same values, experiences & upbringing. Not even twins. So stop trying to be someone you are not & start allowing yourself to be who you truly are. When you do this you will spontaneously ‘Think & be Different’, because you ARE different. And that is liberating. Any way easier than putting on a false front. Express rather than repress who you really are.
2. Take influence from alternative sources
Instead of looking in the same niches, industries or at people for influence & guidance. start looking in non-relative areas. These could be art if you are scientific, music if you are technical, podcasts, documentaries, exhibitions, nature; pretty much anywhere & everywhere. When you look to alternative sources, you get alternative answers. New solutions you never thought of, & your completion missed.
You get & create a kind of ‘hybrid’ solution, borrowing influence from one niche & innovating it into a new one. I used to solely focus on business documentaries & podcasts (Disruptive Entrepreneur: bit.ly/disentpodcast) but recently have watched many fashion designer & pop idols & it has opened my eyes to new ways of thinking that give a fresh approach to my enterprise rather than the same old regurgitated influences. Innovation isn’t just something brand new, it is something borrowed from an alternative source.
3. Conquer your fear of being judged
Possibly your biggest barrier to thinking & being different is your fear of being judged or ridiculed. It is an in built, natural human emotion that serves to protect us, but it can overpower & cripple us into trying to fit in. NO ONE was born to fit in & be a drone. everyone was born to be different & uniquely themselves. And so it is for you. To think & be different is to accept that you are, show the world who you are, & accept along the way equally the praise & the hate; the acceptance & the rejection. No matter what you do you will get both, so you might as well be yourself with courage & authenticity.
4. Know you will be equally loved & hated
As stated in point 3. Learn to accept both with gratitude. Some people don’t like praise & so reject it. others can’t take criticism/. So many people are not being authentic for fear or having critics & haters. The only way not to have critics is ‘to say nothing, do nothing & be nothing’. It is naive to think you can have one without the other.
5. Be around kids & very creative people
Creativity inspires creativity. The most creative people are kids because they haven’t unlearned it like most adults have. Be around them more. Express yourself through play. Many people think they aren’t creative, but the reality is it can be learned. The best way to learn is by watching & being around other creatives. Practice coming up with ideas, brainstorming & thinking non-conventionally.
6. Talk to (& listen to) everyone
Too many people are spending all their interactions with others talking or waiting to talk, instead of truly listening. As such they miss great ideas hidden in plain sight. Other times people assume people don’t know what they are talking about because they are not an expert in the specific field. The reality is we can learn from everyone if we ask good questions that extract good answers, & we shut up & listen. Often someone NOT connected to the area you are looking to solve can give you a great idea because they don’t know the limitations & look at the problem from a totally different perspective.
7. Know that it is within you
Every human being is infinitely creative. We are infinite pure potentiality. Creativity isn’t just wild arty free expression, but a meaningful or useful solution to a common problem. A post it note or magnetic screw driver is as creative as an artistic masterpiece.
8. Stop trying harder, try easier
The reason ideas come to you at unexpected times like in the shower, driving or walking the dog, is because your mind clears of clutter & noise. Once empty, ideas will come to you with ease. You don’t need to try hard to be creative, you just need to be clear of judgement & try less hard. So work on mindfulness, work on clearing your head, rather than pushing harder & harder to solve problems the same way with no capacity for creativity.
9. Tackle the problem from 180 degrees
Instead of trying to solve the problem the same way over & over (the definition of insanity), try completely reversing the way you look at the problem. Imagine how someone else would look at this problem, to whom this wouldn’t be a problem, or someone with a totally different thought process. Sometimes working harder & harder is the worst thing you can do for creativity & solutions.
10. Play. have fun. Laugh. Look silly. Don’t be too serious
Enough said. Life is too short not to.
11. Take something & make it better, or put a YOU spin on it
Do not put pressure on yourself to come up with a genius invention. Even Apple can’t do that. These are known as Unicorns & a world changing solution might happen once a decade. Instead study your competition, read & listen to audiobooks & podcasts, model the greats in your industry & improve what already exists. Or re-use something not living up to it’s full potential, like Apple did with the mouse & the touchscreen, both of which they did not invent.
12. Opposite of normal or common
Often common sense is not common. Sometimes, to ‘observe the masses & do the opposite’ is a good strategy. Watch what everyone else is doing, & do something new, different & unique.