My Top 5 Tools For Better Creativity

1. Running – My best life-changing ideas occur while running. I rarely take headphones, preferring to let my mind wander into “free thinking,” as Dr. Stephen Sample teaches in The Contrarian’s Guide to Leadership Inevitably I have a creative idea. Free thinking means loosing your mind from the restrictions of common sense and envisioning seemingly ridiculous scenarios in order to solve tough problems. For instance, thinking about ladybugs in order to solve a nuclear fission conundrum.

2. How to Think Like Leonardo da VinciMy quintessential go-to book for stirring up new ideas. Michael J. Gelb’s exercises and questions continue to prove invaluable for prompting creativity.

3. MagazinesFast Company, Entrepreneur, and Wired fuel my creativity as few things on earth. I’m talking the old-fashioned “hold it in my hand” kind of magazine. Online is okay, but ideas really start popping while holding the slick cover in my hand, relaxing on the porch with a drink, and dreaming. Hint: The first thing I do when the mag comes in the mail is systematically tear out all the advertisements. This makes for a thinner magazine to hold and also enables efficient completion of the vital reading.

4. Oblique Strategies (now called Methodology) – Get as an iPhone app or as paper flash cards in a box. My friend Mark Lee gifted my first set and they have been an invaluable tool since that day. Methodologies are idea starters in a sentence. They stimulate writing, painting, thinking and myriad creative adventures.

5. Thinking – Speaking of thinking. It is a lost art. Our Western culture (especially my activator personality) cause us to act first and then think. Pulitzer-prize winning author David McCullough says he systematically allocates time for thinking on his calendar for each new book project. Time spent thinking results in better actions. We know this, but we don’t know it. A good idea becomes a great idea with time spent thinking, mulling and dreaming. For some reason, we feel time spent thinking is lazy or wasteful. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is a huge difference between daydreaming and thinking.

What is your top tool for creativity?

16 Responses to “My Top 5 Tools For Better Creativity”

  1. For me, it comes from music, coffee and a table at my favorite coffee house. I don’t know what it is about that place but when I’m there things just flow.
    .-= Jason´s last blog ..Taking the prosecution’s witness to church =-.

  2. Thanks for sharing this list, Randy!

    At this point, my top tool for creativity is ‘lack of pressure’. Not sure if that qualifies as a tool but it is a huge, very present reality for me.
    .-= kim´s last blog ..Holy Week thoughts =-.

  3. Goodmorning Randy!

    Wonderful ideas for being creative. I do get lost in the thought that if I am not actively doing something then I am lazy. I have a book called,”Caffeine for the Creative Mind”. 250 exercises to wakeup your brain) by Stefan Mumaw and Wendy Lee Oldfield. I look at other artist works and see what they have done. I really have to have absolutely no distractions at all. Just talking about makes me want to be creative. See ya later! Have a great day!

  4. I know what you mean on Merridee’s…I was in a real funk the last week or so and last Thursday went down to Merridee’s just to mix it up. The atmosphere in there just woke up the muse!
    .-= Jason´s last blog ..Taking the prosecution’s witness to church =-.

  5. Visual beauty…what stimulates me is to take time to notice the amazing aesthetics in front of me, whether its taking time to notice the intricacies of a spider web, the dew on a leaf, the beautiful drive through farm roads, follow the stitch lines on old quilts, truly see the amazing pink dogwoods out my window…when I need to be most creatively productive I take time to stop and gaze about…to let my eyes rest on that which is lovely purposefully, to take drives, to go outdoors, to notice, receive, and soak in all that is around me, then it somehow fuels my mind to solve, to create, to express again…

  6. Thank you Randy…it is always my pleasure and joy to come to see what you’ve shared each time!

  7. Randy, I love to think and dig into concepts to test their reasonableness. My quest over the last forty years has been to understand what the Bible is all about. My top tools for creativity (understanding the Bible demands creative thinking) have been my Bible, my concordance, and my dictionary along with lots of index cards and legal pads. And, while I’m not a runner, I’ve worked out a lot of paradoxes while I’ve walked various routes over the years.

    • @patriciazell, Yes, and I want to make sure its understood that I don’t mean just running. Walking, hiking, swimming all certainly provide space for free thinking. Yes, Madeline L’Engle said that what makes a bok like the Bible so great is that is has “layers” underneath. Peeling them away requires creativity and also promotes it. Thanks, Patricia.

  8. Randy,

    Bought the “Methodology” app today…hopefully it will stir this old tired brain:) Your book came in the mail late last week, hope to read it soon, next on my list.



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