This week, our social media feeds are blowing up with pictures of current and former co-workers and clients enjoying the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity. Seeing post after post makes us all wish that we, too, were cruising around on a boat drinking rosé or late-night partying with celebs. But as they say, to the victor go the spoils. Personally, I’m most envious of the work that’s celebrated for its success at Cannes.
We live in a world full of invisible impressions. Think about all the things you’re exposed to every day but don’t notice. Yet year over year, some ideas break through and deliver extraordinary results. People choose to pay attention to those ideas and willingly share them with others for free.
Why? Probably because those ideas connect with what people care about and do so in fresh, unexpected ways to solve a client need. Therein lies the power of focused creativity. So here’s my challenge to the rest of us: Use all the talk about Cannes right now to set the bar for how creative we can be.
Yeah, but I’m not a creative.
Why let our titles or roles limit the contributions we make? We’re all people who, like the “target audiences” we seek to reach, go through similar life experiences.
Parents, think about how If Insurance’s "Slow Down GPS" by Sweden’s Forsman & Bodenfors connects with you and what you care about: your children’s well-being. It’s such a smart, simple idea — to change the voice of a GPS app to a child's when users are driving near schools, daycare centers and other areas where children are likely to be present. There’s no reason that we can’t come up with great ideas based on our own concerns and experiences.
Yeah, but I’m not creative.
It’s highly unlikely that my ideas or yours will be Cannes-worthy right from the get go. That’s no different than any other skill that takes time and effort to hone. To be more creative, we need to get in the habit of thinking differently and breaking conventions. Not just for work-related assignments, but for all things.
The other day, I went to work in my pajamas to break the convention of expected workplace attire. Literally everyone I walked by noticed and started a conversation about it, which is the reaction we need from all of our work. The more chances we create to think creatively, the faster it’ll become second nature to us.
Yeah, but my ideas aren’t good.
That’s OK. The reality is that most aren’t. Come up with a ton of ideas to start, then evaluate and refine a select few. Here’s an exercise. Write down all the things you can do with a mason jar? Go for volume. You’ll likely notice that many of your initial responses are very expected. It’s only after you get your creative juices flowing that you start to come up with more abstract, creative uses. Albert Einstein said,
“If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.”
Let’s keep that in mind as we flex our creative muscles over the next year. Who knows, maybe we’ll earn ourselves a trip to Cannes next June.
This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.