Facebook lets their employees play. In the Seattle Facebook offices a whole wall is covered with Lego boards, and employees casually gather together while using the blocks to make logos, cartoons, and other creations.
As a parent to five-year-old twins and a seven year old there is a lot of creativity and fun in our house. Facebook does a great job in their offices recreating playful spaces to spark creativity, and we can learn even more from children themselves to become more creative.
Here are six ways you can boost creativity by returning to your childlike ways:
1. Let it out. Let it go.
When children get frustrated, they throw a tantrum and then forget about it minutes later. The arguments you hear in our house are loud, dramatic, and intense, yet 10 minutes later all three are singing happily together. You can't be creative if you harbor negativity over drama. Get it out, then just like Elsa, let it go!
2. Switch off the voices in your head.
Kids don't think, they do. We lose that ability as we become adults. Many people pre-worry, parallel-worry, and post-worry. Stop the worry trifecta: forget about it and go have some fun.
3. But why? Why? Why?
You cannot be creative if you take everything literally. What happens when you give a child a hose? Anything! It could be a snake, a tightrope, even a time warp machine. Cultivate your curiosity. Copy the favorite question of every small child and ask why. Then keep asking. Don't settle and take the first answer; be curious and see where it takes you. My seven year old told me tonight she was really frustrated because when she asks questions, people aren't giving her good enough explanations. Like Olivia's quest to understand how crystals form and are named, keep asking why until you really understand.
4. Say what you see.
Kids immediately verbalize whatever they are thinking or seeing. One of our daughters saw a man wearing an eye patch at a farmers market and exclaimed, "Look, Mummy, a Pirate!". While you may not want to blurt out completely unfiltered observations as children do, there is value in speaking out your observations. Too often at work we hold back from stating the obvious for fear of being contrarian or concern for not wanting to publicly share your idea, when you hold back everyone misses out on your insight. Like the game show Catchphrase where you have to decipher a common catchphrase from a picture, kids say what they see and you could benefit from doing that too.
5. Skip down the street.
Okay, maybe you won't skip, but do you wake up and walk to work with a spring in your step? Are you thinking of the infinite possibilities the day will bring? My favorite part of the day is walking my three daughters to school. They run, skip, and giggle all the way. If there's no thrill to the start of your day, it might be time to do a bit of soul searching.
6. Display your work and talk about it.
Kids display their creations everywhere--first and foremost on the school walls and your refrigerator--yet as adults, all of our work and achievements are hidden away in the cloud. How can you get physical with your work and create an equivalent of a fridge to display your team's greatest achievements? I have run the equivalent of science fairs for companies where teams can showcase their favorite work and get feedback on their achievements.
We teach our children to play and have fun, yet we allow the magic to disappear in adulthood. Try some of these ideas to be inspired again by those still young enough not to care and see what happens. You never know what a little freedom and joy can bring.