It’s probably not that she or he excels at travel planning or produces great looking documents or understands the ins and outs of corporate reporting. What sets that person apart is most likely something about how they think. You can cultivate thought processes that help you stand out too. How about this, for example? Become known for creative ideas that offer solutions, improvement, or innovation. Train your brain to think out of the box. Here’s how:
1) Feed your mind.
Researchers have found that one of the most important factors in generating new ideas is the ability to associate unrelated ideas and concepts in new ways. When you expose yourself to new ideas, you often make connections between those and something relevant to your own work. Surf the web; look at new apps and technology. Read a variety of business publications. Visit museums; go to concerts and film festivals. If you’re visual, follow creative professionals whose work catches your eye on Instagram, Pinterest and other social media outlets. Introducing yourself to new ideas keeps the brain flexible and awake!
2) Think about something else; sleep on it.
It isn’t a myth. Some of your best ideas will come when you’re taking a break from concentration. Take a break from multi-tasking, too; it interferes with creativity and concentration.
3) Seek problems to solve and challenges to take on.
Creative geniuses like Einstein, da Vinci, Edison and Picasso didn’t just wait for creative ideas to strike them. Rather they focused on trying to solve a problem or meet a challenge. Look for improvements to be made and look for the opportunity in every problem.
4) Analyze the problem or challenge you are working on.
Too often people generate ideas and select one to execute without ever clearly defining their goal. Creative people seem to naturally break down a problem or challenge to understand it, generate ideas to solve the problem and evaluate those ideas to find the most effective solutions.
5) Develop your creative muscle;
practice generating ideas. Set a goal for how many ideas you will come up with related to a challenge—25, 50 or more. Write every idea down—no matter whether you think it is feasible or ridiculous. Sleep on it, and add to your list another day. Challenge yourself by asking: “In what ways might I [or we]…?” or “How might I…?” “What would it take to…?” or “How could I…?” Do this before you begin to evaluate ideas.
6) Keep an open mind.
Stop and think again when you find yourself resisting new ideas. Base decisions on facts and observation—not assumptions or conjecture. You never know where new ideas will come from…read magazines, talk with people in other departments or companies.
7) Question the status quo.
Just because “We’ve always done it that way.” or “We tried that and it didn’t work.” doesn’t mean it’s the best way.
8) Focus on the future and what could be—not the past and what has been.
9) Commit to continuous growth and learning.
Upgrade your skills; expand your network; listen to experts, and watch your peers, mentors and “competitors.”
There’s no better place to grow professionally, find new ideas, expand your network and upgrade your skills than the Administrative Professionals Conference. Check out the mind expanding sessions we have on tap for 2015. www.apcevent.com
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