Becoming More Creative

Source: Fast Company. Apr 2017

If you want to become more creative, the answer may lie in becoming more courageous.

The Improvisational Leadership class is designed to expose students to new experiences, making them more creative by expanding their frames of reference. The class is 100% experiential, with no tests, textbook, or papers. Creativity can be learned, but not through lectures or reading, says Cook. “It has to be learned through doing,” he says.

And that can take a nudge. Each week, Cook, chairman of the global PR firm Golin and author of Improvise: Unorthodox Career Advice from an Unlikely CEO, challenges students to push their personal limits by trying new things.

“Trying new things gives you the courage you need to experiment with your life and not be worried about whether or not you fail,” says Cook.

In another exercise, students pulled a topic out of a hat and were given five minutes to prepare a presentation that positions them as an expert. “The idea is that you’re sometimes not given much time to prepare for something, and you have to sound knowledgeable and confident,” says Cook. “These real-life skills and experiences help you think on your feet.”

And in another, students must negotiate something. “They’re often very nervous about asking for something, but people respect you for negotiating,” says Cook. “They expect and respect it, especially when you’re standing up for your values.”

“What surprised me most was how much life opens up when you’re willing to get out of your comfort zone,” she says. “You never know where a door leads, and you can only find out if you go through it,” she says.

AN ONGOING PROCESS

Becoming courageous and creative doesn’t happen overnight, says Cook. “It builds up a little at a time by doing new things and trying things you’ve never done before,” he says. “Every little step pushes you out of your comfort zone. I’ve seen students do things they never thought they could do before. They’re nervous, but they do it because it’s an assignment. The next time is easier. The goal is to become more creative, courageous leaders.”

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