I’ve been thinking lately about where ideas come from and the conditions and environments that inspire creativity.
I came across an inspiring article from Scott Belsky who writes on the importance of deep thinking and the “creative pause”:
“This phenomenon is the seed of the break-through “a-ha!” moments that people so frequently report having in the shower. In these moments, you are completely isolated, and your mind is able to wander and churn big questions without interruption. However, despite the incredible power and potential of sacred spaces, they are quickly becoming extinct. We are depriving ourselves of every opportunity for disconnection. And our imaginations suffer the consequences.”
Scott goes on to summarize the variety of ways we are losing this critical unplugged time in our lives, from emails to Facebook. We are constantly connected and always on. As a result, we’re finding less opportunity for the type of deep thinking that sparks creativity.
This line of thought prompted me to think of Rodin’s “The Thinker”, Isaac Newton under the apple tree, and Archimedes in his bathtub. All three icons symbolize the lone genius deep in thought. How would they function in modern business life, with the distractions of meetings and the day-to-day fray of a business?
I then watched this brilliant TED talk from Steven Johnson on the importance of being connected in coming up with good ideas. He describes the lone genius as a myth, and explicitly references The Thinker and Newton. Eureka moments are not really moments; they are “slow hunches”. These “slow hunches” are informed and made stronger by interacting with others. Ideas spark through friction with other ideas. His conclusion is that “chance favors the connected mind”.
Businesses need be adept at fostering connections and encouraging unconnected time. Creativity needs both the “connected mind” and the “creative pauses”.