If you’re a lawyer you are attracted to solving puzzles… that is what you do. I work with lots of lawyers that don’t think of themselves as creative, but of course they are creative. It takes creative thinking to solve puzzles. You look at cases from many perspectives in order to reach the best outcome for your clients. I would certainly define that as a creative process. So, how can you tap into your creativity to a greater degree? 

I have been pondering this question. If you read my post… What’s Your “Big Theme” For 2013?… You know that my “Big Theme” for 2013 is CREATION. In my research in finding ways to tap into my own creativity I realized this surely applies to lawyers. I read an article in Entrepreneur Magazine by Nadia GoodmanHow to Find New Business Ideas in Everyday Life, that offers us all, methods on how to keep the creativity flowing…

The idea for Disneyland’s Magic Kingdom was born on a family vacation. Walt Disney was visiting Tivoli Gardens, one of Europe’s oldest amusement parks, when he realized he could create a bigger, better version in California. His method is not unusual: Great entrepreneurs find new business ideas by paying attention to opportunities in everyday life.  ‘The world around you is filled with ideas that can be useful,’ says Andy Boynton, co-author of The Idea Hunter (Jossey-Bass, 2011).

None of those ideas will come to you by thinking really hard in a vacuum. You have to get out in the world and practice behaviors that lead you to new ideas. ‘Innovation is not about how smart you are; it’s about the hunt for ideas,’ Boynton says. ‘Behavior trumps IQ.’

By learning to think and act in ways that bring new opportunities to light, you can find a constant stream of business ideas in everyday life.

We hear it all the time… “He gets tons of cases and he’s not even the brightest lawyer!” Behavior trumps IQ! So, how do you behavior? Here are 3 tips to put into action that will fuel your creativity.

1. Keep a list of opportunities. ‘At any given time, there’s a job that has to get done,’ Boynton says, meaning the world is full of problems that need to be solved. As you go about daily life, keep a running list of jobs that others have abandoned, ignored, or failed to address effectively. Each is a potential opportunity.

‘Start with your own experience,’ Boynton says. Ask yourself, what bugs me? What could be easier? More fun? More convenient? Your own frustrations will guide you to real problems that can drive a new business idea.

I believe this is critical, based on the fact that we are always doing two or three things at once. How often do you have a stroke of genius on your drive home from work and after having dinner you ask yourself… “What was the great idea I had in the car?” Use the Dictation Dragon app and when you get home you’ll have an email with your brilliant idea waiting for you.

2. Hunt for ideas in diverse places. New ideas require creativity, which thrives on novelty and diversity. You might find a great idea while you’re on vacation or unexpected inspiration in an experimental art exhibit. ‘If you open your eyes, the answer is there,’ Boynton says. ‘But your world has to be broad enough and diverse enough to feed you the ideas you need.’

Your search needs to be intentional. ‘When effective idea hunters talk to people, they’re not just going through a social dance,’ Boynton says. They’re looking to learn what others know or do — mining the world around them for useful ideas.’

Diversity is the spice of life! Asking questions and listening… really listening, will surely get the creative juices flowing.

3. Notice how others solve business problems. In any situation, you are surrounded by problems that someone has tried to solve. Each is an opportunity to learn. Start noticing how convenience stores organize inventory, how packaging catches your eye, or how Amazon encourages impulse buys. You might find a better way to solve the same problem or inspiration for solving a different problem.

‘You really can borrow and reuse ideas, and reapply them,” Boynton says. ‘If you develop a mental habit of [noticing others’ solutions], it opens your eyes to what’s out there.’

How often do you make time to observe a colleague present his or her case in court, or to reviewed a document for a friend not in the legal business? You may find insights that you could use in your own legal work.

I have a fourth step… Buy Boynton’s book, I just did. I’m sure we will find more great thinking. Check out the table of contents. Thank you Nadia Goodman for the introduction to Boynton! I suspect this will be a valuable tool for me to work on my “Big Theme” for 2013… CREATION, could it help you with your “Big Theme” as well?