Angela Murray: Creative Thinking in Life and Business

  • 12 May 2017
  • Sarah Holden

On Wednesday evening we had the pleasure of hosting life and creative thinking coach Angela Murray at our Auckland gallery, for her first solo exhibition and talk: How Creative Thinking is guaranteed to help you succeed in life and biz.

Angela describes herself as having a double life – on the one hand she works in a corporate role negotiating contracts; the other she loves to paint, and runs creativity and communication workshops. Angela’s juggling challenge is relatable for all of us in our busy lives, and she offers ways of integrating these two seemingly separate worlds to enhance success and satisfaction in both our personal and work lives.

Dispelling the “I’m not creative” myth is one of Angela’s first tasks when working with new clients. Often people have a misconception of what ‘creativity’ means – or are afraid to try new things because they don’t perceive themselves as being ‘creative’. Angela assures that creativity is not simply painting, drawing, writing or dancing: it is taking things that already exist in the world, and making something new. Creativity isn’t just about producing a product – more often than not, it’s about the process.

Angela encourages the exercise of ‘creative visualisation’ – visualising something in our minds. This shows that we can conjure something out of nothing in our imagination. We all inherently have the capacity to be creative. This visualising technique can be used in our job or our personal life, and is important because if we are not incorporating creativity in our life, we become stagnant and aren’t able to grow.

Why should we care about being creative?

The 19th and 20th centuries saw the advent of the education system and a new class of the creative elite. Art became a commodity, and we became more judgemental and critical of creating as a process. School became a place of ‘unlearning’ – a zone where ‘creativity’ becomes unsafe. Through learning social norms and rules, we forget how to play, and how to be curious. In a sense we have to ‘remember’ how to be creative again, and train our minds to be creative. Though we may judge ourselves, we have to practice! Though Angela notes, if we love doing something, it doesn’t feel like practice.

The majority of us are taught to use the logical side of our mind – encouraged to use linear, systematic and task-oriented thinking. We became negative and fearful of other modes of thinking that don’t fit this model. But in today’s age, where computers do much of our thinking for us, we have to be creative and think creatively in order to stand out. We have to develop the creative side of our brain, which is full of dreams and possibilities. Our creative brain is expansive, loves change, is curious and finds everything interesting. The challenge is to find a balance between our creative and logical sides of our brain.

Thinking creatively is a fantastic tool for so many reasons. It can help us to look at things from a different perspective, and changes the way we see the world in a more positive and receptive way – which then feeds into our actions and creations. Being creative makes us try new things and go out of our comfort zone. For Angela painting is a great way for expressing creativity because she can easily change mistakes!

How does creativity help in business?

Successful businesses are prepared to make mistakes, and take calculated risks in order to grow. It’s a process of learning and adapting, and creativity is much the same. Creativity in business can empower staff, and encourage them to be more independent and make bolder decisisons rather than play it safe. In today’s corporate culture playing it safe can mean being left behind, so we need to consider ways in which we can see things from a different perspective, and appreciate differece. Simple exercises in the workplace like creative warm-ups or brainstorming can foster a creatively thinking work space and improve the productivity and positivity of the work environment, as well as developing better inter-personal relationships.

Expanding thinking and embracing a can-do attitude are vital to creative thinking in the work space. Angela suggests working by intuition (the creative mind) and going back to reflect and validate (the logical mind). This creative problem solving strategy enables us to be more productive and less restricting on ourselves. Creating and working from intuition is one of the most rewarding and fulfilling endeavors, and has powerful implications in the long term.

Letting go of procrastination and perfectionism is one of the hardest things when learning to think creatively! Perfectionism and comparison are the enemies of creativity – they can stop us in our tracks and inhibit us from achieving everything that we desire. But again, through practice, we can ‘unlearn’ this habit.

Creativity is not just for the workspace – Angela encourages creativity at home, too. As well as helping to reduce stress and anxiety,  creative thinking can improve sleep and memory. Creativity can also improve relationships because it challenges us to approach communication differently, and makes us consider alternative perspectives. Why not share creative thinking techniques with your partner, kids and family?

There are several strategies you can use to expand your creative mind. Simple things like shaking up your daily routine can give you a broader range of perspectives! Even something as simple as laughter and humour can provide a massive boost to creativity. Try new things, meet new people and expand your network – these all help to open your mind to a wider range of different perspectives. Get fresh eyes on your business – business networks are a great way of getting insights into how other businesses are doing things, and getting ideas and feedback on your business.

Observe the world around you. Let go of the ‘right’ and the ‘wrong’. Make note of everything you find interesting! And lastly, any activity you enjoy can be creative. It doesn’t have to be art – it could be anything from gardening to how you dress yourself. There are no limitations!


Thanks again to Angela Murray for her insightful and inspiring presentation. Her work will remain in our Auckland gallery until Wednesday 24 May, visit us to see her beautiful works up close!


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