How we innocently put obstacles in the way of creative insights

 Business, productivity  Comments Off on How we innocently put obstacles in the way of creative insights
Jan 192017
 
Mist on the estuary

Like mist obscuring the view, we can innocently block creative insights to our business problems

If obstacles to business development seem to come at you from all directions, you may be innocently putting obstacles in the way of creative insights that could help move your business forward.

A friend’s mother once said, in response to her farming son complaining about problems he had to deal with in his business,

“That’s what being in business is, solving problems.”

It always struck me as wise.

Rather than seeing problems as something that get in the way of the business of doing business, see them as inevitable, a natural part of the job in hand. That change in perspective is the first step to allowing the mind to settle down. If nothing else, this step reduces the irritation and frustration of yet another escaped animal, burst pipe, website crash or other apparently unwelcome interruption.

The next step is to look towards creative insights but first let’s look at what goes on when we get carried away with frustration and impatience.

What obstacles do we put in the way?

That frustration is just one type of obstacle we can put in the way when we face problems or issues in the development of our business. At one level we know it isn’t helpful yet we can easily fall into the trap of adrenaline fuelled crisis management. Rushing to keep up and fire-fighting as issues arise, seeing a calm and measured approach to business as a pipe dream. Available for others but not for ourselves.

At this extreme end, it is obvious from the outside, how seeing problems as inconvenient might not be helpful in solving them. However in far more subtle ways we put obstacles in our way every time we approach a business problem in a particular way.

How do we put them in the way?

This way is so common we probably think its normal. It is the approach that begins with panic, attempts logical analysis and ends with spirit draining rumination.

You can spot when you are approaching a problem this way because you tend to get tight in your body and mind. You think about a problem endlessly and experience a sense of stress and even unpleasant sensations in your body. And most importantly, the situation seems more and more hopeless. Any solutions that do arise are quickly shot down as “impossible”. From this state of mind the chances of solving business problems are slim.

Why do we end up in this frame of mind?

We think this is a normal and necessary way to approach so called problems because we’ve been taught to rely on analysis and intellect. Our society and education prizes logical, analytical thinking. How many times have you addressed a problem by taking out a sheet of paper and doing a set of pros and cons to help you come up with an answer?

This approach innocently puts obstacles in our way.

What is the result of putting such obstacles in our way?

This approach not only creates stress, it tends to get in the way of finding answers to our problems. In a tense, tight, state of mind it is difficult to come up with new ideas.

Most problems are only problems while we look at them in the same old way. With our old perspective, the issue looks like a problem. Sometimes, a simple change of perspective is enough to dissolve the problem, so that it no longer looks like a problem.

For example you might see your location as a disadvantage because it is inaccessible for your customers or visitors. While you continue to see it in this way, you will miss opportunities that come from being remote.

For example people living in crowded cities prize and will pay for the peace and tranquility that you find in places far from the madding crowd. Suddenly that fact that your place is up a no-through road becomes a selling point. It will change how you write about your place, even how you write up the directions to your place.

The key thing is, you cannot see that alternate view when your mind is closed, tight and stressed. In that state we tend to re-run the same limited set of thinking. Going round in circles and ending up in the same place each time. It is exhausting, frustrating and leaves us feeling powerless. So what’s the alternative?

How do we avoid doing this?

Have you ever experienced the delight of a solution suddenly popping into your head when you least expected it? Maybe in the shower, out running or while cooking food.

These moments often share certain characteristics:

  • Usually we are not actively thinking about the problem
  • The solution seems simple and obvious
  • The solution is new i.e. doesn’t come from our existing knowledge or experience
  • The solution often comes as a whisper rather than a dramatic noisy insight with bells and whistles
  • We often have little on our minds

And these are the very conditions that provide fertile ground for creative insights. That is for new, fresh thinking.

Have you ever wondered where such insights comes from? Clearly they don’t always come from our personal knowledge base and experience.

The great innovations throughout history have apparently come from the minds of men (and women) but in fact they must have come from some higher, more universal pool of wisdom. Where else can they have come from? We all have access to this higher intelligence.

You might know it as gut instinct, wisdom, insight, intuition. And you’ve almost certainly experienced it at certain times in your life. We tend to dismiss it. Explain it away or even overlook it. What if you acknowledged it and sought to harness it in your everyday life? Imagine the impact that might have on your business and your personal life.

Take a moment to bring to mind a time when an answer to a problem occurred to you quite spontaneously.

What if you can’t wait and need a solution urgently?

In most situations there is time to let new creative insights arise. Rushing and being in a perpetual state of mild stress are unhelpful and unnecessary.

Even those who are used to existing in this state will usually find time away from their business yields interesting insights.

In reality most business problems are not life threatening. When we turn our minds away from the problem and perhaps take on a low intensity or enjoyable business task we are freeing up space in our busy minds, allowing us to access a deeper wisdom, available to us all.

What if, like the wise mother of my friend, you can begin to see ‘problems’ as a natural part of business (and indeed life)? This is the first step to relaxing into the knowledge that insights can occur to help you find solutions. And you never know, what at first looked like an obstacle or problem, might wind up looking like an opportunity.

If you’d like a conversation to learn more about accessing creative insights for your business please contact me.

P.S. Since drafting this article, I spotted an interesting article on a similar theme,

'A-ha!' Moments vs. Analysis: Which Really Solves Problems Better?