Creativity Exists in All of Us, But Frequently Needs a Nudge

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Personal creativity is often discouraged by work systems, social mores and authority figures. But "Creative Zing!"—a new book by creativity speaker and writer Sam Harrison—suggests habits and practices to expand creativity, generate more ideas and effectively present those ideas to others.

"W'ere born creative, but systems discourage creativity as we grow older," says Sam Harrison. "But it's possible to overcome those constrictions with the right habits and practices."

Creativity can’t be taught, but everybody has innate creative resources that can be uncovered and unleashed, according to author Sam Harrison.

“We’re born creative,” he says. “For evidence, just watch kindergarten kids. But systems discourage creativity as we grow older. Teachers say don’t ask questions. Parents say don’t be silly. Bosses say don’t make mistakes. Society says don’t be different. Negative voices say don’t take chances.”

But it’s possible to overcome those constrictions, Harrison points out in his recently released book— "Creative Zing!"—focusing on ways to consistently kindle creativity.

“This book offers advice and activities to jolt readers into creative action,” says Andy Epstein, author of "The Corporate Creative" and a director at Celia Consulting. “Having consulted and trained in-house agency teams, I know how a creative person can feel at a loss for new ideas.”

According to Harrison, we spend our days in one of three zones—a sluggish “zombie zone,” a chaotic “zigzag zone,” or, if we make the right choices, a “creative zing zone,” where creativity is hitting on all cylinders with fresh ideas.

“Creativity becomes either comatose or frenetic without focus and nourishment,” he says. “We have to choose habits that ignite and channel our creative resources. For example, habits promoting curiosity, playfulness and persistence all bolster creative abilities.”

In addition to exploring creative habits, "Creative Zing!" covers ways to get approvals for ideas. “Thousands of great ideas are buried in drawers because they were delayed or rejected,” says Harrison. “Ideas don’t sell themselves. We have to persuasively present ideas for them to see the light of day.”

Never pitch ideas the same way you came up with them, advises Harrison. “Generating ideas is a winding road with doubts and detours,” he says. “But presentations need a logical flow that syncs with decision makers’ goals and values.”

Harrison stresses the need to polish presentations with practice. “Forget winging it,” he says. “Just because we have an idea doesn’t mean we know how to present it. Practice to get presentations right but also until you can’t get them wrong, even when hit with objections.”

A professional speaker and author of three previous books, Harrison draws from his background in product design, marketing and other creative fields. He has also served on the faculty of Portfolio Center, a graduate-studies program for creative communicators. He can be reached at

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