1. Serving Highland Park and the Surrounding Communities
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Unwrap Your Gift
of Creativity for the
Find, share, and enjoy it with others
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Last year, my neighbor, Sara, confided in me that she
was stressed and worried about an upcoming New
Year’s Eve party that she agreed to host. Not only would
a number of her oldest friends be there, but she also
invited some new acquaintances who were used to over-
the-top parties – at least based on what she’s seen on
Facebook. She said “I’m stuck. I have no idea how I can
pull this off.” I encouraged her to think through what
was driving this fear – and walked her through some
proven ways to spark creativity. In the end, her party
was a smashing success and best of all, her guests kept
remarking on how creative her party was.
Finding your inner creativity.
It’s in all of us!
Most people think of themselves as creative or not
based on their appearance, profession and what
they’ve been told by others. Stereotypically, “creatives”
are associated with the arts – but this pairing is as
mythical as their dependency on a muse for inspiration.
Studies by neuroscientists, psychologists and the like
consistently conclude that creativity is an inherent skill
we are all born with.
Creativity is about thinking in terms of alternatives,
recognizing there is more than one right answer, and
constructing third options when two are given. To
be creative is to be open, receptive, generative and
empathetic. Anyone can tap into their creative flow by
leveraging existing talents and honing a few skills. As
Diane Darrow, Artist and Educator, has said, we do not
need to teach creativity, but rather its daily practice.
If there was ever a time to discover your creativity, it is
when you’re trying to plan a memorable party, wanting
to find the perfect gift for the person who has everything
or needing to settle family disputes during the charged
holiday season. Here are a few tips and tricks to make
the most of your innate skill.
There is a difference between looking passively and
registering what you see. The solution to what’s
stymying you is often hidden in plain sight. To make the
obscure obvious, consciously view the whole as well as
its parts, and the value of the invisible.
A pencil, for example, is thought of as something that
writes. But how often is this “thing” thought of as a
combination of lead, wood, paint, rubber and metal – or
a symbol of grade school education? When you look at
a flag do you see stars and stripes on rectangle fabric,
or do you see freedom? By seeing more than what your
eyes look at, you notice what others miss.
Despite your expertise or past accomplishment, it is
important to approach each creative endeavor free of
preconceptions. To spark your creativity, shift from a
convergent mindset of trying to find the best way to
arrive at ONE right answer (5+5=10) to a divergent
mindset with infinite possibilities and many right answers
(X + Y = 10).
It is equally important to move away from an “ER”
approach of incremental thinking – different versions of
the same thing – biggER, brightER or shiniER.
By Morris Sneor
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Instead, choose a viable direction by REdefining and
REexamining what you are trying to achieve. Adopt
a “RE” mindset by taking a step back before moving
Before the incandescent bulb, for example, light was
produced by burning through wicks in a candle or gas in
a lamp. Gas lamps could burn brighter and last longer
than candles, but despite their differences, they both
originated from the same frame of mind. However, the
premise behind the light bulb was to do the opposite
and create illumination without burning through
a material. “RE” thinking is at the front end of the
cREative process and the beginning of bREakthrough
thinking. REmember, most creative insights started off as
counter intuitive ideas.
“Creativity is just connecting things,” said Steve Jobs.
Sir James Dyson, the inventor of the Dyson vacuum,
connected dots from surprising and disparate sources.
He noticed that a nearby sawmill used a cyclone – a
30-foot high cone spun dust out of the air by centrifugal
force – to expel waste. He reasoned that if a vacuum
cleaner could separate dust by cyclonic action and spin
it out of the airstream it could eliminate the need for
both bag and filter. Dyson saw the similarity between
seemingly unrelated objects to reinvent the way
Concepts are crystalized as they travel from head to
hand. Ideas take shape and are expressed though
images from magazines, simple art supplies, or any
other materials you find helpful. Each version refines and
redefines what was once on your mind. The goal is to
build your way forward so that each iteration becomes
a stepping stone on this evolutionary path of progress.
Creativity does not happen all at once and the creative
process does not end with the first thought that comes
to mind. It takes multiple efforts, going down different
trains of thought to come up with something original.
Creativity is a slow-drip process that requires time to
percolate. Flashes of insight, epiphanies and ah-ha
moments suddenly happen after you put in the work.
Getting stuck is an inevitable reality of the creative
process. Here are a few tips to get out of a rut and into
• Reframe the problem. By reframing a problem you
are either redefining it or considering it from a fresh
perspective. Not only does this method provide a
new starting point, but it also expands the solution
space and creates new ones.
• Verify what is a fact, opinion and assumption. You may
be stuck because the foundation or basis for believing
your view of the truth just isn’t right.
• Examine your biases, beliefs, attitudes and
assumptions. It may be influencing or even tainting
your perspective, choices and decisions. “It ain’t what
you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what
you know for sure that just ain’t so,” said Mark Twain.
• Ask questions. Why? Why not? What if? These
questions help disrupt the vicious loop of repetitive
thought and points your mind in a new direction. It
helps remove barriers and ignites your imagination
with renewed possibilities.
5. • Look for inspiration. Google, Amazon and Etsy (a
website that focuses on handmade or vintage items
and supplies, as well as unique factory-manufactured
items) are fantastic sites for inspiration. Type in search
terms, then check image results for triggers to a new
set of ideas. Don’t forget to look at the predictive
terms, the ones that spring from your keystrokes,
for the search engine’s collections of related search
• Fear less. The act of creativity is exploratory in nature.
The process is a trail of trials and experimentation
whereby you learn as you go. Missteps and set backs
are encountered frequently as you follow your hunch,
test and refine your ideas along the way. Fear less
knowing that by finding and sharing your creativity,
you’re giving a personal, priceless and thoughtful gift
that never goes out of style and is always in fashion.
Fear of failure was what was blocking my neighbor,
Sara. She was so worried that her friends would not
approve of her party-planning skills that she almost
cancelled the shindig entirely! After talking her off the
proverbial cliff and sharing some of these tried-and-true
techniques, Sara pulled off a New Year’s Eve party that
was memorable – and most importantly – a party that
represented who she was.
Morris Sneor is part of the management team at
Paradigm Productions, Inc. a digital marketing
agency. He is an expert at helping companies convert
their creativity into a competitive advantage using
design thinking and other methods of problem
solving and marketing.
You can reach him at: M.Sneor@paradigm-il.com
114 Skokie Valley Road · Highland Park · 60035