People of all ages – from kindergarten through college – learn, test, perform and create better when exposed to nature – the greenery that reflects growth and sometime pretty gardens.

Chances are if you love nature, you are one of the smart people with well-developed five senses, intuition, environmental awareness and reflexes. The concept of green also signifies a sense of community, a sense of sharing and the give and take of open relationships.

Being consciously aware of surrounding nature is one of the ingredients to developing a creative environment. It gives us the ability to create by captivating the eyes, mind and heart.  It instinctively helps us assess what encompasses our life and times.

But creativity also takes a leap of faith and the conscious awareness not to fear the unknown. In other words, what lies beyond the immediate environment? And how do we get beyond the immediate environment? How do we come up with a new idea?

Creativity means turning news ideas into reality – we think, therefore, we imagine, and then produce. And we create by examining opportunities, relationships and motivational practices. We ask ourselves, “what if” and the world is at our disposal.

Sounds simple enough because the fundamental underlying value of creativity is that it can be learned, it can be sought out and supported by trusting ourselves.  Yet, the other facet of creativity – its polar opposite – is that as we grow up we unlearn how to be uncreative. We seem to lose our ability or forget how to let our mind expand. That discipline that goes by the wayside with predictable and repetitive thinking. Learning how to be creative is similar to learning a sport, using the right muscles, and, in the case of creativity, that means stretching the mind, mastering a way of thinking that is experimental, exploratory, questioning and synthesizing information. Often, we need a supportive environment to be creative and a mindset that tells us that being wrong is not the worst thing that ever happened to us.

We are all born artists. A child proceeds to imagine without censoring thought.  However, as we grow up and mature, we develop more fears, we loathe being wrong or out of step. Unfortunately, our schools aid and abet this diminishing capacity to imagine without limitations.  We have to get the answers precisely correct on our tests. Creativity and diversity, dynamic and interactive interchanges are not valued in most schools. There is just not enough time.

The riches in our human experience tap into our learning experience: everything we’ve ever done, everything we’ve ever been informs how we learn. And there it often stops because we are not developing a willingness to be curious. It takes too much time away from what is expected of us. As a result, innovation in our society suffers. We don’t look for new ways of thinking so that we can find new solutions.  The mental gridlock of ideas leaves up bereft of creative skills.

IBM weighed in with a massive study last year interviewing over 1,500 CEOs around the world to discover the most important talent they look for in an employee. Hands down it was employee creativity – the most important talent for the 21st century.

Management has considerable involvement in utilizing their creative people. Once creative types are identified, management can place them in special projects or give them leadership positions. However, before that can happen, management needs to define a powerful vision for the company, which in turn can create teams with focus that leads to high performing results. It isn’t just the creative employees that are given responsibility to innovate; management has the responsibility to be in lock step with those who generate new and exciting ideas. Everyone works together in the company to hone in and shepherd the final vision.

Every aspect of a business needs creative people from marketing, to customer service, to knowledge building, to design and to advertising.  It is the responsibility of each and every member of entire company to share and reflect creative ideas in order for innovation to take place. Encouraging personal relationships, networking and down time (play time) is crucial to realizing a company’s vision. The day of the small cubicle and employee isolation is over. Meeting up several times a day in spaces where people can congregate, where music is played, where tools of the trade are displayed is a dynamic solution to clear and concise communication, which leads to creative interplay. 

If businesses are truly interested in stretching the creative mind, that attitude will reflect a larger vision for the company and not just achieving a financial bottom line.