Creative Inspiration From A Nobel Prize Winner: Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan, Nobel Prize Winner? He is the first musician to win the award and his selection last week is probably the most controversial in years. The prestigous literature prize is given for a lifetime of writing, rather than for a single work.

According to the Swedish Academy for the Nobel Prize, Dylan won the award for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”

Bob Dylan has been influential in popular music and culture for more than five decades. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s when his songs focused on civil injustice and he was celebrated as the spokesman of his generation.

Dylan has sold more than 100 million records, making him one of the best-selling artists of all time. He has also received numerous awards including eleven Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe Award, and an Academy Award. He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame.

We can learn a lot about creativity from Bob Dylan, which we can all apply to our businesses:

Try Something New: In 1965, Bob was king of the folk world. Coming up through the small clubs in Greenwich Village, he was beloved for his acoustic protest songs. In 1965 he decided that he wanted to break out of that mold and decided, on a whim, to play an electric set at the Newport Folk Festival. Dylan was met with boos and jeers from the crowd but continued with his performance. He kept touring with his new rock and roll band and he was heckled mercilessly, as can be seen during this rollicking Like A Rolling Stone from the 1966 tour. Eventually he gained an even larger following, while still holding on to the majority of his folk fans.

Good things happen to those who take risks.

Get out of your comfort zone and try things that make you feel uncomfortable. If you’re not uncomfortable, you’re not growing. You could try working in a different industry or trying a new field. Trying something new in the public eye is another great way to grow. You can create videos on YouTube, write a blog, or teach a course.

Get Inspiration From Others: When Dylan was starting out he sought inspiration from his hero, Woody Guthrie, and other folk artists. Over the years he’s collaborated with everyone, including: The Band, Joan Baez, The Grateful Dead, even joining the supergroup, The Traveling Wilburys, with George Harrison, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, and Roy Orbison.

Build a network of people that you admire who have different backgrounds, occupations, and interests. Meet with them on a regular basis to brainstorm ideas, talk shop, or just listen.

Take A Break: In 1966, Dylan crashed his motorcycle near his home in Woodstock, New York. Bob withdrew from the public and didn’t tour again for again for eight years.

By the following summer, he was ready to make music again, so he recruited The Band and recorded more than 100 songs in his house, which were later released as The Basement Tapes.

Sometimes taking a break from the daily grind is the most creative thing you can do.

Many of the largest companies in the world, including Apple, Facebook, and Google, have formal programs in place to foster creativity. 3M, for example, has long had the “15 % rule” designed to allow employees to have time to work on their own projects.

The most important ideas come to you when you’re relaxed. Try mediation, taking long walks, and turning your phone off if you really want to have creative thoughts.

Dylan is one of the most important artists of his generation and his career has spanned for more than 50 years. He knows a thing or two about being creative.

In a 1995 USA Today interview, Dylan said, “Creativity isn’t like a freight train going down the tracks. It’s something that has to be caressed and treated with a great deal of respect…you’ve got to program your brain not to think too much.”

It doesn't hurt if you're a major talent too!

This article originally appeared in Forbes on October 15, 2016. For more article please visit Forbes 

Tom Ward