How To Increase Creativity: 3 Lessons From Steve Jobs

September 26, 2014

Steve Jobs Creativity

It is easy to get dragged down into the routine of the modern world. We have jobs with set hours, we predesignate times of activities, and we are told to get a certain amount of sleep. There are laws and rules to obey. For younger people, school sets up a right and wrong way to do things, and there is an associated numerical score for each task.

Categorize, schedule, obey the rules, and finish in a specific time—this is the world most of us live in. 

Maybe it's not such a awful thing, but there doesn't seem to be many inspirational stories about people who toed the line and followed the status quo, just because they didn't want to ruffle any feathers. 

In his famous 2005 commencement address to Stanford University, the late Steve Jobs presented anecdotes about his life. Here are three practical lessons from that speech on how to increase creativity and add a little zest to your everyday routine.

To eliminate fear, remember you are going to die.

Steve Jobs CreativeWhen he was a young man, Steve read a quote that more or less said "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right."

All of us allow ourselves to be influenced by fear, but for some it leads us by the nose. We want to be accepted. We want to fit in. But social pressure is the death of creativity, and if we allow ourselves to be guided by the opinions of others, we will never do anything unique. 

No one wants to think of death, but perhaps we should. Steve thought of it every morning when he looked in the mirror. Perspective is everything. Death can be used to shrink into gloom and depression, or it can be used as a tool to overcome our fears.

In Steve's own words:

"Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."

Take a class on an out-of-the-box topic

Steve dropped out of college after six months. Instead of following a curriculum, he started sneaking into any class that looked interesting. Strangely enough, a calligraphy class caught his attention. It didn't seem like a practical way to spend his time, but later his acquired knowledge came together for the invention of the mac. 

It's easier to be creative if we broaden our knowledge. Whether you are interested in calligraphy, model airplanes, mustard tasting, or ballet, investing time into something new will add a freshness to life. Who knows? It might even help your career someday. 

Fire yourself and start from scratch

Steve Jobs Fortune Magazine 1985Steve had a falling out with with the Board of Directors of his company and was fired from Apple at the age of 30. At first he was devastated, but eventually he would proclaim that it was one of the best things that could have happened to him. He had the opportunity to start over and be a beginner again. During his non-Apple years, Jobs went on to co-found and build Pixar, another one of the most creative companies in modern history.

Are you burdened or jaded in a field and feel stagnant? Erase the board of your achievements and allow yourself to be a beginner again. Run marathons instead of bodybuilding, take up a creative hobby if you are a technical professional, or vice versa!  

It's all about the journey.


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Watch the full address here: