There's a story I saw once (which, if you'll notice, is how most apocryphal stories start) about Salvador Dali where an art patron inquired it were difficult for the famed surrealist painter to paint a picture. Salvador Dali answered, “No, it’s either easy or impossible.”

You can't deny that it's a great creativity quote.

Unfortunately, it's a worthless perspective when you're on the hook to deliver personal creativity on a consistent basis in a work or organizational situation. Suppose your work-oriented creative effort seems easy to you. If it does, it's likely the creativity you are producing is ho-hum, at least to you. To the contrary, when your creative effort seems to be an insurmountable challenge to complete, you're faced with the realization that it's touch to get any credit for stunning creative thinking that can't be brought to creative reality.

If the two creative extremes Salvador Dali offered aren't very good answers, what can you do to move your creative reality somewhere in between? You want to have  strategies to turn both creative extremes into challenging, workable creative successes. Here are four strategies for each creative extreme.

Four Creative Direction Ideas When Creativity Seems Easy

1. Critique Your Creative Successes

Rather than resting on your creative laurels, push yourself to be dramatically stronger creatively. Use what seemed creatively strong from the past, look for small imperfections others would never see, and make creative masterpieces of them! Better integrate them with your strategy, discover more elegant creative simplicity, or find a way to express your extreme creativity in new ways. Pushing yourself to the heights of extreme creativity more than you ever have may be a creative challenge, but will yield creative dividends.

2. Put Yourself on the Extreme Creativity Hook Publicly

You (and by “you,” I probably mean “I”) could be prone to creative sandbagging through deliberately setting expectations at a relatively low, comfortable level you can easily meet without pushing yourself too hard creatively. Forget about taking the path of least creative resistance by sharing an extreme creativity goal - sort of your very own JFK and “Put a man on the moon.”  Sharing an extreme creativity goal with people who will hold you accountable to it clearly puts you on the creative hook. This will demand you embrace extreme creativity as a step toward creative success.

3. Put More Creative Risk into the Mix

Suppose you have all the resources and know everything that's required to make your creative objective a reality. Decide to deliver your own creative stumbling block by forsaking a major chunk of your creative resources. Slash the time for your creative project by beginning later than expected or agreeing to finish it earlier. If you are part of a creative team working on a project, release one team member to work on another project, pushing the other team members to new extreme creative heights. Driving your effort to the creative extreme will make you develop alternative creative muscles to realize your creative objective.

4. Significantly Modify Your Creative Direction

Bruce Springsteen is a great example of this idea. Although successful with the E Street Band, he altered his  creative direction musically several times – an acoustic, home-recorded solo record, other “solo” records with different supporting musicians, and a completely new band to chronicle songs by Pete Seeger, a legendary folk musician. With every new creative direction, Bruce Springsteen continually avoided “easy” creativity in favor of using unfamiliarity to spur new creative directions.

Four Creative Direction Ideas When Creativity Seems Impossible

1. Lower Your Expectations

If your overall creative task seems daunting, lower your expectations. Look for what smaller parts of the project seems possible amid a total effort which seems impossible. Consider what is the real downside if the entire effort didn't come to fruition. After identifying workarounds for whatever might be impossible on your project, go all out achieving what is achievable creatively.

2. Put a Creative Project on Hold

Being pressured to be immediately creative can stifle creative abilities. Instead of being pressured to advance directly to implementation, take a time out and actually THINK. Strategize. Brainstorm. Find someone who will add to the creative thinking you’ve done. Take some time to consider something entirely different. Take advantage of a creative pause to let your mind wander where it will, making unconscious creative connections to instigate a fresh creative strategy.

3. Find Implementation Assistance

Maybe your perception of creative impossibility arises  from weaknesses in your personal capabilities. If that’s the case, launch your creative effort by seeking out talents you need to turn the impossible into the possible. Put together the best team to start, generate, and bring what would have been previously daunting creativity to life.

4. Modify Your Creative Game

If the creative task you are facing seems impossible, go ahead and redefine it. Instead of thinking about what the creative activity is, look at what type of goal you’re trying to accomplish instead. Next, look at the whole variety of ways you can accomplish your objective in some other way. Redefining the creative game is often just what’s needed to get into another game you’re much more likely to win creatively.

Use these eight strategies as needed so you can depend on producing outstanding creativity on a daily basis! - Mike Brown

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