There is an old myth about creativity that goes something like this… give someone enough time, money, and free reign and the best and most creative ideas will be the result. In your mind you probably have a stereotype of a creative person. They probably frequent trendy non-Starbucks coffee shops, have tattoos, and wear really modern looking glasses. They certainly don’t dress in business attire – or even business casual for that matter. Last but not least, the myth goes, they are constantly thinking “outside the box.”

Sorry Cinderella, it’s just not true – at least not when it comes to creativity in business. The reality is that “necessity is the mother of invention.” Anyone can think outside the box (wouldn’t it be great if…    if only…), it’s the exceptional people who are able to think creatively inside the box – within deadlines, budgets, and requirements. I’m not saying to stop challenging the status quo. However, once you confirm that gravity does indeed exist, it no longer is beneficial to keep trying to jump just a little bit higher to make sure it still does. To summarize – make sure your boundaries have been correctly set first, but then commit to stay within them unless a significant shift in the marketplace occurs (correctly identifying when those shifts occur, and reacting quickly, is perhaps the most critical part).

Far too often we fail to realize the options and opportunities that are right in front of our nose inside the box that could drastically improve our situation. We’re too busy day dreaming about a parallel universe where what annoys us no longer exists and we ignore the every day insights of those around us. There are solutions everywhere – we’re just too lazy to act on them. If you really want to be an innovator, then do what other people only talk about doing. There is an old saying that “he who is most creative conceals his sources the best.” Don’t worry – you don’t have to tell anyone else we had this little talk.

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