Fake It Til You Make It
— The capacity for or the act of forming or entertaining ideas
— The least of my strengths
StrengthsFinder is an online test used to measure talent themes or — you guessed it — strengths. After rolling through about 200 questions, the test will spit out a list ranking your strengths from most dominant down to those that rarely impact your behavior or decisions.
Number one on my list is Achiever. I live for checking things off my to-do list. If there is a task or event I can fit into even the tiniest time slot, I will. Coming in at number 34 on my list (the very last one) is Ideation. Ideation is a strength found in people who are fascinated by ideas and who can easily find connections between incongruent facts.
StrengthsFinder emphasizes that focusing on your top five strengths is key; however, since I’m an (over) Achiever, I’m prone to dig into every single strength, regardless of where it falls on the spectrum.
With Ideation at the bottom of the list, does this mean I don’t have an original thought in my head?
Does it mean that it takes a lot more squeezing to get my creative juices flowing?
The problem with this is that I take part in a fair number of activities where ideation is a highly valued trait. I work in an innovative environment, I am asked for creative feedback, and I am charged with developing unique content both personally and professionally. How can I keep up in a think-outside-the-box world when I really really, really love the little boxes that hold my appointments so nicely on my calendar?
I fake it.
Here are three tricks that (usually) fool the inventive people around me into thinking I’m creative, too.
1. Let the internet do your dirty work
Finding ideas has never been easier, especially as auto-complete in search engines becomes more evolved. For example, if I am given the task to write an article on juice cleanses (one that I should probably write soon considering the weight I gained on a recent trip to Atlanta), I can simply type “juice cleanse” into the Google or YouTube search bar and I’m immediately presented with a list of other potential searches (i.e., other ways to approach my content assignment).
Tip: Do this in a private browsing window to avoid tainting your results with past searches.
Another useful tool for discovering new angles or approaches to a topic is Answer the Public. Drop in a search term and this handy machine will spit out handfuls of related ideas in beautiful, categorized spokes.
2. Reword and rephrase
A variation of an idea is still a new idea. Rephrasing an original thought or drumming up a different way to describe the idea can often lead to a whole new direction for content. Bonus: it gives you new keywords to plug into your SEO!
For example, using a juicer might turn into using an all-in-one juicer or buying a smoothie maker or pureeing fruit for eating. Each of these variations has the capacity to take on a life of its own.
3. Find inspiration in unexpected places
I recently attended a marketing summit in Georgia where Michael Barber of barber&hewitt gave a presentation titled Making Lemonade: Traits Beyoncé Can Teach the Modern Marketer to Run the World. His mashup of marketing and 1/3 of Destiny’s Child left the audience with reminders to slay, provide déjà vu experiences, and get crazy in love. Each of these was accompanied by their respective music video featuring Queen Bey herself. Yes, inspiration is everywhere — even in an 11-year-old Grammy-winning R&B song.
When all is said and done, remember that even if it’s the last of your strengths, a strength is a strength nonetheless. Whether you use music videos, syntax deviations or the ‘ol world wide web, flexing your (tiny) ideation muscle is doable. You might even pass as a bonafide creative.