“To think creatively, we must be able to look afresh at what we normally take for granted.” —George Kneller. Everyone has the ability to imagine and create. God, the Creator of all, built that in to you when he made humankind in his likeness (Genesis 1;26-28). It is ranked as one of the 16 Habits of Mind of effective people and is worth developing. Like a muscle, creativity gets stronger as you exercise it.

Creative thinking is challenging, but pays off. Often innovating involves experimenting based on experience, challenging the status quo, asking uncomfortable questions, redefining boundaries, considering multiple perspectives, simplifying, striving for beauty, taking risks, overcoming setbacks, and being open to criticism. Creating takes work, but the process and the result can be rewarding in the short-term and it also it can be a worthwhile investment in your future potential.

Creativity is a critical skill in today’s uncertain times and competitive workplace. In his TED Talk on the subject, Anthony Goldbloom, asserts that as many job responsibilities become automated due to advances in machine learning humans have a strategic advantage if they can process disparate data from dynamically changing factors and analyze it with out-of-the box thinking and creative problem solving. Humans also excel at taking information from one domain and applying it in fresh ways to other situations. The stronger you are at creative thinking and innovating the greater the chance you have working in more profitable and fulfilling careers, as well as, dealing with the unknown.

Thinking creatively offers other benefits also. Overall, it helps you enjoy life. I like what artist, Bruce Garrabrandt said, “Creativity doesn’t wait for that perfect moment. It fashions its own perfect moments out of ordinary ones.” It does this by allowing you to see the big picture, fostering growth and development, promoting mental health, relieving stress, and offering you the chance to express yourself.

So I challenge you to innovate, invent, and create. Here’s a simple exercise I will be doing with my students this week. Draw several circles about 1.5″ in diameter randomly on a page. Give a little space between each of them. Then draw something that transforms each circle into a circle-like object. For instance, one circle could become a sun, another could become a balloon, another a globe, etc. Draw as many ideas as you can in 5-10 minutes. Another proposal is to take an ordinary object like a rock, a scarf, a bowl, or a toothpick and write ten things that object could also be. For instance, you could imagine a rock to be a paperweight, a hammer, an anchor, a pet, a ball, a weapon, etc. Another exercise is to turn off the sound while watching commercials on television. Then improvise the commentary or dialogue to go along with what you see.

Besides simple exercises you can also strengthen your creative muscle through artistic expression. Flex your originality with culinary arts, visual arts, performing arts, industrial arts, crafts, fashion and cosmetics, writing, gaming strategies, and unique sport techniques.

Seek to be more innovative. You can do it. Try improving an aspect of your life. Tackle your daily routine and responsibilities with new approaches. Express introspection in novel ways. Discover, design, or develop solutions to things that bother you. In the process, draw closer to God and learn from him creative ways to share his truth and love, to serve people in need, and to cultivate deeper relationships.