What is creativity? It is an essential aspect of being human. It’s not just used by artists, writers, filmmakers, and musicians. Everyone is creative and has the ability to turn imaginative or original ideas into reality through some form of expression. Some people just haven’t explored it or, if they have, they undoubtedly know what it feels like to be creatively blocked from time to time.
Either way, you can help to inspire creativity in others.
Sometimes all someone needs is a little creative inspiration to get the creative juices flowing. It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give a person because it means you’ve helped them perceive the world in new ways, make connections between seemingly unrelated things, find hidden patterns, and produce creative solutions—whether on a canvas, within a spreadsheet, inside a cluttered kitchen pantry, writing, and beyond.
Whether you’re a first-timer or a veteran influencer, explore these tips for inspiring creativity in others.
Expect the Most of Them
Also known as the Pygmalion Effect, most people will rise to the expectations of others, especially those who believe in and encourage them. Find reasons to believe in the creative pursuits of the people around you. Then, clearly communicate your high expectations. Let them know you believe they will accomplish what they set out to do or be.
Check in Regularly
Telling someone you believe in them and expecting them to succeed isn’t a one-and-done exercise. Follow up with them, and ask how it’s going or if they want to catch up to talk about what they’ve done since the last time you connected. This shows you genuinely care, which in turn can motivate and spark creativity.
And Also Give Them Space
Creativity isn't like restarting a song on your favorite Spotify playlist. A great deal of energy went into getting to the exact place of creative expression a person is in.
That’s why small increments of time filled with interruptions aren't conducive to creativity. Each time focus is interrupted, people struggle to get back to creative “flow,” a term coined by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. His research revealed that what makes an experience genuinely satisfying is a state of consciousness called flow. During flow, people usually experience creativity, deep enjoyment, and a total involvement with life.
Whether you manage, coach, date, live with, or simply interact on a friendly basis with the person whom you aim to inspire, give them both time and physical space to create. And then, when they’re ready, hold space for them to foster creativity and share their creative aspirations, creative ideas, and projects with you.
Play to Their Strengths
This one can apply in any situation. However, if you’re a leader of an organization or business, it’s particularly important to play to people’s strengths. Encouraging people to do more of what they’re good at builds optimism, achievement, resilience, and creativity. And creativity is the first step toward innovation, a critical ingredient for business success.
Some people learn their strengths at a young age. Others may not uncover them until later in life—or until someone like you helps them recognize their talents. You might ask them some questions like:
- What kinds of things do you love to do?
- What comes easy to you?
- What do you, without fail, look forward to on a regular basis?
- What makes you feel good?
After they’ve reflected on their answers, encourage or help them to do more that focuses on their revealed talents and, subsequently, unlocks their creativity. If you’re a business leader, build a team of people who have complementary strengths, and then watch as goals are more easily met.
And Also Encourage Them to Expand Their Comfort Zone
Just as important as it is to encourage people to practice their natural strengths, it’s also vital to entice them to expand their comfort zone. Take travel, for example. One of the reasons people travel is to leave the familiar and discover something new—language, geography, people, culture, history, and more. Fresh experiences and perspectives can awaken creativity. In the case of travel, someone might be inspired to create a new dish when they get home from a trip because, while in a different city, state or country, they tasted ingredients they’d never tried before.
Creativity can be inspired through all kinds of comfort-zone expansions. You might encourage someone to:
- Have a coffee with someone they don’t know
- Take on a small “stretch” project at work
- Consume content that’s outside of what they’d usually read, watch, or listen to
- Take a new route on their drive, mass-transit ride, walk, or bike home from work
Be an Active Listener
Technology, like smartphones, positively impacts communication by allowing you to be in contact more easily and constantly at any place and time. However, it also makes it difficult to give undivided attention to someone, particularly in the form of active listening.
Active listening describes the process of listening attentively while someone else speaks, amplifying what is said, and providing feedback without judgment. When you actively listen, you make the person feel heard and valued. Plus, you’ll also find out what they care about and what their goals are, which will help you better understand how to motivate and inspire them.
Let Your Guard Down
Although social media would have you believe that edited profiles and photos pave the way to win people over, in reality, people are inspired by real human beings—people who are authentically themselves and share the full spectrum of their magnificent, yet sometimes messy lives. Anyone who has experienced their definition of creative success knows that the journey to get there wasn’t as flawless as the Instagram filters made it appear.
Share the struggles. Share the heartache. Share it all. By doing so, you show that it’s possible to stay strong and resilient in the face of difficult times, and to carve out a safe space for creativity.
Share What (or Who) Inspires Creativity in You
Chances are you’ve been inspired in your life. Share with others your story of something or someone who inspired creativity in you.
And if someone inspired you, tell them and thank them. Write them a heartfelt note, or look them in the eyes and let them know how much of an impact they made. Sometimes people have no idea—and what a beautiful thing to know! And you never know … the person who inspired you could, at this very moment, also be inspired by you.
*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; it does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Chopra Center's Mind-Body Medical Group; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health programs.