Once worked for a great Mentoring Boss whose best quality about him was to stop the meetings and brain storming sessions and tell us all to GET OUT OF HIS OFFICE.
But it was not meant in a bad way; he had the foresight to see that look and expression on all of our faces that told him we were all brain locked. Our creative thought processes, our problem solving methods were stuck in the mud like a bald tire on a big truck. We were going nowhere and we needed to get out and find something to restart our creativity.
We have all been there. Held hostage in a meeting where the boss wants answers. The project leader is demanding that we solve the problem now and no one is going anywhere until a solution is found. You’re trapped and so are your creative talents. Your problem solving super powers are weakened like kryptonite to Superman.
When were in these situations, we don’t focus on solving the problem or creating new ideas, we only care about escaping, and coming up with a way to get out of there. You don’t care what dribble comes out of your mouth, just as long as it gets you out. Some people believe that’s how you solve problems and sometimes it works. But tell me if I am wrong, most of the time you spend longer in these interrogation technique meetings than necessary and the outcome is never as good as it could have been.
“How do we solve the problem of getting from point A to point B?” The boss demands answers out of their hostages, who have now ordered their fourth pot of coffee for this marathon idea session.
Finally a brave soul steps up from the tired, burned out, creative wheel jammed group and says “we can use ducks?” And everyone waits to see what the reaction the boss who is more concerned with looking for an answer because they are just as tired and probably more focused on coming up with something rather than nothing, smiles. The group of zombies cheer and they go home until they find out ducks are out of season.
How do you solve this problem of thought blockage? Sometimes, it takes a leader to say, GET OUT, GET LOST, GO AWAY, TAKE A HIKE, GO FOR A WALK, GO FLY A KITE, GO PLAY A GAME….
What? This is a business; we don’t have time to waste! We are professionals here; we don’t have time to play games.
Actually, it’s been proven in several scientific studies that playing games stimulate the creative side of the brain or the problem solving side. That would be the right side. The left side is associated with logic, verbal, and analytical thinking.
How many of you have ever played that frustrating game of trying to fit multiple shaped objects into perfect squares, lines, and keep them from building up to the top and shutting the game down. You know that game that once you seem to think you have mastered it, it goes faster and faster and how does it expect you to solve the problem if it does not stop? Yes, my favorite analytical and creative game designed by Soviet (now Russian) Scientists to do just that, test your problem solving skills, Tetris
Playing a game on the computer at work, even one as simple as solitaire, can help jumpstart your creative juices. Now before you run to your boss and say “I have been playing World of War craft all day instead of doing the job I was paid to do.” That is not what I am saying. Ten or 15 minutes of game time is all that is needed.
You can also go outside, take a walk around your building or parking lot. Taking in the great outdoors, watching birds fly, clouds pass over, look at the leaves on a tree (unless you’re working in downtown Seattle or some other Metro). If you are captive of the concrete jungles, maybe it’s time to walk around and admire the architecture, do some window shopping and admire the creative displays that are out there.
If time permits, go workout. Hit the weights, do a nice run, stair climb your way up the mountain and ask the imaginary wise man how to solve the problem, or do some yoga. Exercise might be your way to stimulate the brain or allow it to relax and open it up. Have you ever been doing something and all of a sudden the solution to another problem comes to you? Why is that? It’s because your brain is free to think.
My favorite way in Seattle to unblock my brain and open the flow was to walk around Pike’s Market. The many vendors, bright colorful flowers, diverse groups of people, and the scents of the bakeries, flowers, and wide assortments of foods got all the senses firing stimulations to my brain and that jump start my brain. As a Marine, we would run five miles at lunch.
So the next time you’re feeling stuck in the rut, can’t seem to think of the solution to the problem. Maybe it’s time to just GET OUT OF YOUR OFFICE and hit the reboot button on your brain. Now this article is not a justification for the slackers out there to abuse this practice. When my boss would tell us to Get Lost, he meant for us to be back in 30 minutes, not the following day, unless we were cleaning out our desks.