It’s universally true. When we are too close to something, we simply can’t see it all that well.
Don’t believe me? Try a little experiment: Hold your hand up to your nose and try to look at all of it. You can try, but it’s inefficient and a lot more work than simply pulling your hand away from your face to get a better look. You can all of a sudden see it so much better. There is a lesson in creativity and innovation here.
And it’s funny, the older and more experience we attain in the working world, the further away from our faces our hands have to be in order to see them.
Loosening your grip.
It’s true with anything—the stronger and longer we cling to something, the less we can find success with how we handle whatever it is that we do. Another name for this might be dementia. (Please note: we are not medical professionals here. Just over-worked, attached, jovial business gurus ready and willing to poke fun at ourselves. It makes us better!).
When you feed a fire a little air, the flame gets bigger. When you give your lover a little space, he’ll appreciate you more. When you turn around and look at something you just accomplished, you can see exactly what mistakes you made and what you’d do better if you had a mulligan.
Of course! Hindsight is always 20/20, right?
But for some reason, the most pertinent roles we play in life are the ones that we are least efficient in performing because we are generally too close—or attached—to see clearly. In other words, we really can’t see the quality of our parenting, friendships, efforts in our relationships, or being the CEOs of our businesses because we hold ourselves to these important roles like they’re some sort of life preserver in the middle of the ocean enabling our survival as humans.
Taking a step back.
What if taking a step back for some perspective—just a little bit—meant that a helpful current could take us to shore?
Guess what? The world would not fall upside down and out of the universe if I were to disappear tomorrow. Pretty sure that’s the case for most people. This may seem like a sad thought, but it actually brings perspective.
The truth of the matter is, that when we take a step back and look at what we’re doing with more clarity, we will absolutely see something that we haven’t seen before. This leads to all kinds of creativity and innovation And all too often, this is exactly the answer that we were struggling to find when we were too close to the situation to see it.
Often, small business owners cling to their businesses like they’ve birthed the next saint. They clean their own toilets when they should be sleeping. They respond to emails when they should be spending time with their families. They write their own business blogs when they are tired or lackluster in creativity and innovation (Sound familiar? I can help).
And this is completely understandable! There is a reason why small business people are a special breed: they are high level innovators.
Even Superwoman needs a little help every now and then.
According to Scientific American, creativity and innovation juices start to decline in our early 40s, but that’s in an optimal circumstance. Psychology studies show that there is a decline in the creativity of children in this generation more than others, and the best theory is that this is due to overstimulation, a decline in environmental freedoms…and a lack of focus. In other words, when children are stressed and cooped up, their imaginations and creative juices stop flowing. What does that mean for super-human innovators in their prime? Yikes.
Sounds like we all need to take a vacation! And here is a nice listing of some other ways to boost your creative juices. Notice what they all have in common: giving SPACE and TIME.
- Exercise. We don’t need to work all of our lives for a happy retirement, only to work ourselves like dogs, get sick and have to spend all of our hard-earned money rejuvenating our health. Change up the environment to slow yourself down—try not to make your exercise another item to check off your list with other multi-taskers doing the same thing! Take a yoga class at a nice studio 3 times a week. Take a hike in nature. Ride your bike on a paved path in the woods. Enjoy an atmosphere that provides happy hormones both in aesthetics and movement potential. Your body and your mind will love you for it!
- Whistle While You Work! It’s been effective with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s patients: turn on your favorite music from your youth to fire up happy memories and your right brain will wake up to creativity and innovation (and happy vibes).
- Get UP. Get out of your office and into an inviting atmosphere that inspires you. Fluorescent lights are nice for the bottom line, but they’re not conducive for creative mojo. I love to write in a tea house that overlooks gardens and acres of forest and scenery. Find your special spot where it flows for you.
- If you can’t do this (really, yes you can!), then go outside a few times a day or take a walk around the office or hang upside down to get more blood flow to your brain. You’ll be amazed at what a little mental break can do for your creativity and innovation.
- Teach Yourself Focus. Sit for meditation, play a musical instrument, have a high-level conversation with someone about something that matters to you outside of work. Do something that requires 100% of your attention that provides for a mental training of the mind to concentrate. When you’re scattered or multi-tasking, there is an incredible inefficiency of the mind. When you are 100% focused on the one thing you are doing, it’s likely gonna be good.
- Take. A. Break. Go on vacation and turn off your phone. Like, a couple weeks a year and a weekend every other month. Yes, you might have to power it up for weeks leading up to your time away, and you might come back to a pile of work, but it’ll be worth it when you spend time focusing on bettering yourself. You can’t give what you don’t have, and everybody’s gotta recharge. You’re always going to be much more effective when you are feeling groovy.
Interestingly enough, if you are a small business owner, you may cringe just reading this list. There is an alternative to that life preserver in the middle of the ocean: a helicopter ride up and out of the overwhelming depths and about 100 feet over to a lovely island just beyond sight.
We all have the power to decide how much perspective we can place between what we’re doing and who we actually are (hint, hint: we are not defined by our work!). And inevitably, help is right around the corner with the right perspective.
So when the helicopter comes down to pull you out of the water and to your magical fairytale island of recharging and delights, call me. I’ll help you find more time for you while ensuring that the momentum of your creativity and innovation stays on track. If it’s that good, it’ll take on a life of its own with some good help. And help is here!
It’s time to let go…really…yes, you can…
Photo credit: alphaspirit / 123RF Stock Photo