“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” – Albert Einstein
When it comes getting a promotion or a great reputation at work it seems creativity is the most important thing. People who are creative are able to get new clients/contracts or do their work in a way that gets noticed.
In the episode of the Simpsons where Homer decides he wants to be an inventor he gives us some valuable tips on how to be creative. Let’s take a look…
What is creativity?
Before we get into Homer’s lessons it is important to specifically define what creativity is so that we are not confused when we try to achieve it. I quite like the definition from dictionary.com:
“Creativity is the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination.”
It is important to look at a few elements of this definition.
1. Transcend tradition
This is an important element to look at. Quite often at the office or workplace we get stuck in a rut and end up doing things the same way every single time. We are creatures of habit and our work is no different. To be creative we need to transcend this.
2. Meaningful new ideas
Creativity is not just being different; it has to be meaningful. I can think up a non-meaningful idea now (a washing machine that peels your bananas for you) but the true creative people add something to people’s lives.
Remember, to be creative you do not have to think of something totally original. 99% of creative work is looking at everyday things in a new light and creating new interpretations. These types of creative works are often the most influential. This is best expressed in the quote:
“Thus the task is not to see what no one yet has seen, but to think what no one yet has thought about that which everybody sees.” – Schopenhauer
How to be more creative at work the Homer Simpson way
So you know you want to be more creative. You are desperate to find new ways to do things to increase productivity, output or whatever might apply to you. But how do you do it? Here are a few general pointers from Homer the inventor that most people will be able to apply to their situation.
“Creativity is the sudden cessation of stupidity.” – Edwin Land
The best inspiration comes when we are relaxed. Homer’s best ideas come to him when he stops stressing about inventing and has a nap or a walk. It is impossible to think up new ideas and processes when we are stressed or tired or upset. Try to stay as relaxed as possible and find things that relax and de-stress you. Take a look at this post on beating stress at work.
2. Shift your perspective
“What we see depends mainly on what we look for.” – John Lubbock
If we are always looking from the same point of view we will never see anything new. Homer was trying to copy Edison as opposed to following his own creative intuitions.
If we assume we already know everything about a topic there will be no room to learn anything new. Human beings are clouded by there opinions and biases and these prevent us from being creative. Make sure you are not getting weighed down by your own personal views or labels. In the episode where Homer becomes a “rage artist” he loses his touch because he starts to think of himself as an “artist” and as such becomes boxed in to a small category.
One way you can do this is by doing something that you would never do. If you are a Christian try reading some Buddhist philosophy. If you work for Microsoft try playing with a Mac. If you are a hip hop fan try listening to some classical music. These types of things will give you new ideas and new inspirations as well as teaching your brain to think in different ways.
3. Love it
The most creative people in history loved what they did. DaVinci loved to paint and he loved to invent new machines. Bill Gates loved computers. It will be very difficult for you to be creative at work if you hate what you do. It simply will not arise unless you are having a good time. Remember, nothing good comes from a tight mind.
We can see this in almost any episode of the Simpsons where Homer has taken on a new hair-brain scheme. He tries to open a internet server company but fails because he lacks passion. Grease business. Inventor. Hippy juice maker. If you don’t love what you do you won’t stick to it long enough to be creative.
4. Look in other areas
One thing that a lot of creative people do is draw inspiration from other industries. This leads on from the point on changing your perspective but is more specific. Make sure you look for ideas in other places.
For example, if you are a real estate agent and want to market a special property that you have for sale you might want look at how Coke or Pepsi market new products or how the real estate firm down the road does their marketing. Looking in other areas might not give you completely original ideas but it might give you a new way to do something in your own area.
5. Change your environment
Quite often it takes a change of scenery to get some new inspiration. If you sit at the same desk everyday of the year you might start to lose some of your natural spontaneity. Go for walks in the park, catch the latest movie, head over to the art gallery or shift your desk to another area. You might want to jazz up your room with some “creative” visual cues. Homer Simpson does this by placing a picture of his creative hero Thomas Edison above his work desk.
6. Brainstorm with others
“Two heads are better than one.” – Unknown
Homer brings Bart and Lisa into the basement and asks them to think of new ideas by saying whatever comes into their heads. When this fails he sends them to their room.
While it might not be a good idea to punish your workmates if they can’t think of good ideas it is a great idea to join heads with someone else. This is often the best way to get new inspiration or perspective.
Can anyone else think of any other Homer Simpson related creativity ideas?