Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull
I’ve heard some people describe creativity as ‘unexpected connections between unrelated concepts or ideas.’ If that’s at all true, you have to be in a certain mindset to make those connections. So when I sense we’re getting nowhere, I just shut things down. We all go off to something else. Later, once the mood has shifted, I’ll attack the problem again.” (Location 2307)
It’s okay to take a break, to go for a walk or move on to a different task.
In fact, its positive effect is proven through scientific research and application in the workplace, including renown offices like Pixar!
So when was the last time you took a moment to step away from the doldrums of desk duty? When did you last step away in the middle of a task to create space for creativity to blossom in yourself and in your team?
When you next find yourself or your team stuck at an impasse, don’t force your way across. Step away from the boulder blocking your imagination. As Ed writes, ‘just shut things down.’
But that’s only half the story. That’s the part that a few of us may get right – walking away. But the problem is we don’t come back to it. Does this sound like you or your team?
Shelving a good idea is just as bad as not starting at all or fulfiling the idea to a mediocre standard because you forced through to creativity as opposed to stepping away and coming back again so that you can instead flow, or better yet, so that the creativity can flow through you.
So, step away. But then come back ‘once the mood has shifted.’
How do you do this? Here’s a tip I just love – to change your state, change your actions because motion drives emotion. That’s why when I’m feeling really low I sometimes force a smile. Because just that simple action of slapping a big, wide, Cheshire-cat grin on my face boosts my mood – it’s chemically proven! Crazy, right?
So if you’re waiting for the mood to shift, wait actively. Do something in the waiting. Prepare. Create your creativity. Jump around. Go for a walk. Crack a joke. Wave your arms in the air. Walk to the kettle, make yourself a cuppa and come back to your desk. Even these simple acts can have a profound impact.
Remember: Motion drives Emotion. So if you’re feeling stuck, step away, change your state and come back to the task with a different, higher-level mindset which will benefit both yourself and your team.
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