There’s always a good deal of magic to be found in a room in which Sam Harrison is speaking, which is why we invite Sam back Every. Single. Year. We’re sharing insights from our friends at HOWDesign from Sam’s session in Boston.
Harrison kicked off his session, titled “10 Things to Zap for You Can Zing!”, with some dancing to loosen everyone up, and at one point all of his session attendees participated in an attempt to set a record for the most sound effects created all at once. Knowing that, it’s likely no surprise that Harrison, who has previously worked in creative communications, marketing and branding, and who has authored three best-selling books—Zing!, IdeaSpotting and IdeaSelling—specializes in creativity-related topics.
Here, we’re excited to share five top takeaways from Harrison’s session at HOW Design Live. Special thanks to Harrison for providing us with a few of his presentation slides.
How to Be More Creative:
5 Simple Ways
Don’t Believe Everything You Think
We’ve all heard them: those voices in our heads that tell us we’re not good enough. Not good enough to win. Not good enough to make a difference. Not good enough to take on a project we really want to be a part of.
As Harrison pointed out in his session, even very accomplished people hear that voice.
“When you hear that voice … write it down,” Harrison advises. Write it down so that you can look at it in the light of day. Then, Harrison says, ask yourself these three questions inspired by Byron Katie: Is the voice true? What happens when I hear the voice? Who would I be if I ignored the voice? (Our guess is you’ll typically find that without that voice, you’d be more creative, more empowered, and more yourself.)
Zap Crowdsourced Advice
Harrison pointed out something interesting on the subject of advice: Many of us tend to ask people for advice, again and again, from more and more people, until we hear the advice we want to hear. That is, the “advice” that already lived in our own brains. The trouble is, this isn’t always the advice we actually need to hear.
Instead of asking several people for advice, Harrison suggests establishing an advisory council. Come up with a list of people whose opinions you respect, and then ask them in advance if you can come to them for advice when you need it. Doing this will help you truly hear and absorb great advice when you need it most.
Don’t Delay Play
“When the pressure is on, that’s when we tend to delay the play, and that’s when we need to make sure it’s there,” Harrison says. We’ve all been there. We’re stressed and crunched for time, and because of that we don’t naturally think “play time!” But as Harrison points out, that’s when we most need it. That’s when play can make the biggest impact on our creativity, and our lives.
Go Beyond the Obvious
If we keep going to the obvious ideas, Harrison says, we’re going to keep getting ordinary results. Instead, we have to keep reaching beyond the obvious—and that goes for in business too, whether you’re an in-house designer, a freelancer or working for a design firm.
In today’s session, Harrison used Zappos as an example. Zappos considers themselves a customer service firm, not a shoe company. It’s because of this that they consistently go above and beyond to offer extraordinary service.
Ban Boredom from Your Day
Has it been years since you’ve said that you were bored? Or mere hours? When Harrison was little, his mom told him that if he were bored, then he must be a boring person. That is, someone who’s unwilling to see the opportunities all around.
There are so many ways to combat boredom and get back to a creative zone. Here are three examples Harrison shared:
- stay curious by constantly looking around and wondering about things
- change your locations (e.g., move to a room you don’t typically work from, or take a different route home)
- and become “unfamiliar with the familiar” by attempting to look at something in a different way.
Bonus: Ask yourself, What have I been settling for? Harrison encouraged HOW Design Live attendees to use their time in Boston this week to contemplate that question.
Once you determine what you’ve been settling for, he urges you to move past it, and into the present moment, where the magic awaits.
Thank you to Amanda Aszman for this post about Sam Harrison!