One of the fastest ways to limit your creativity is to behave as though your experiences represent everyone else’s:
“I’m not booking as many clients this year, so everyone who is “busy” must be lying or charging next to nothing.”
“I had a terrible experience with this airline, therefore no one should fly them ever again.”
“I had a great experience at this restaurant, so everyone who says they’re treated rudely there must be high maintenance.”
“My millennial employee showed up late and snapchatted all day, therefore everyone in this generation has a weak work ethic.”
“I didn’t qualify for that college scholarship even though I was top of my class, so the educational system is a failure to everyone.”
“But he was nice to me . . .”
The most creative people allow their perspectives to be challenged, are empathetic, choose not to harden their minds or hearts, and understand that their worldview is not the end-all and can always be broadened.
If you want to be more creative, you have to ask better questions and listen more deeply, both to those around you and to the stories of people outside your immediate circle of family and friends. And — more importantly — you have to allow that their side of a story may have a certain element of truth to it even if it doesn’t completely line up with how you’ve understood things to be.
Originally published August 2014