Archive for Imagination

Sep
20

Fishing for Ideas: The Value of Reflection

Posted by: | Comments Off on Fishing for Ideas: The Value of Reflection

fishing-for-ideasDo you make time to stop for reflection?  Do you ponder information for more than a moment or two or do you quickly process and move on?

No, I’m not talking about the negative spirals where we deconstruct things done wrong, but rather that the deep, thought filled introspection on something meaningful.  The place you go mentally to ask yourself “I wonder” and “what if”, considering something from multiple viewpoints.

I’ve observed that we are busy, busy, busy these days.  We tell ourselves “have to keep up”, “I’ll get passed by”, “have to get this done now, no choice”, or “I don’t want to drop the ball and look bad”.  We all rationalize the need to keep moving.  It can often feel like if we slow down we will miss out.

What if you could actually do more by doing a bit less now and then?

In my experience, deep analysis and real strategic thinking has been getting short changed in our quest for speed.  Many do not see the value of pausing and have lost the art of reflection.

I believe we need to stop and make more time to reflect.  To give our busy minds down time to process the host of information we have collected, allowing our conscious and unconscious mind to connect.  By giving our minds a break from the constant pressure, we can often find new insights and creative ideas.

I remember reading that Thomas Edison was known for taking his fishing rod and sitting on the end of a pier, casting away.  However, he would never put any bait on his hook.  He would simply sit there for hours.  What is interesting is that he didn’t really want to catch any fish.  What he wanted to do was to sit there uninterrupted, allowing him to reflect.  Edison knew that if he looked as if he were fishing, no one would bother him – he could reflect uninterrupted.   What Edison was really after, what he wanted to catch, was ideas.

One might say that reflection is the root of my Ponderings and Insights blogs.  Have you noticed that my blog articles contain embedded questions?  That I don’t typically write about:

  • 7 insights for marketing success
  • 3 critical pieces of advice for change
  • 12 steps to getting attention
  • How I succeeded, and you can too

I provide information, sometimes a story, and ask you to consider some questions.  I want you to do some internal analysis and think for yourself.  For me, writing these blogs is a way to stop and reflect on a concept, and then share with others.  Each of my blogs is my own reflection of sorts – where I share items that have been ruminating in my mind.

So here are several important (well, important to me) questions for you to ponder and reflect, to gather your own personal insights:

  • How do you spend your time?  Are you allocating it to the right things?  Things that are strategic, not just tactical and have longer term value?
  • Are you perhaps rushing along so fast, working, working, working?  Do you need to lift your head and mind, to allow your conscious and unconscious to connect?
  • What comes to mind when you observe someone looking out a window or perhaps sitting on a park bench “doing nothing”?  Do you know for sure that they are doing nothing?  Might they, perchance, be thinking and reflecting?  Perhaps they are like Thomas Edison, taking time to consider their creations and fishing for ideas.

My wish for you today is to find time to stop, pause, and to reflect.  To make the time for critical, strategic, inside work that is sorely needed these days.

So let’s go fishing together, reminding ourselves that the next time we see someone “doing nothing”, that they might just be fishing for insights and ideas instead.  Here’s to catching more!

Comments Off on Fishing for Ideas: The Value of Reflection

What Might You Find if You Stopped to Look? I see a squirrel in the clouds. Did you even notice their shape or did you focus on the path of the dock?

Do you ever stop and think about what you wrote, what you read, how you acted?  If so, do you do so for more than a moment or two?  

No, I’m not talking about that self-critiquing that we can get into – the “what if’s”, “if only’s”, “if I hadn’t” analysis where we might beat ourselves up.  Many of us (myself included) need to do less of that.  Rather, that moment of stepping back from ourselves to look at ourselves and situations from a different viewpoint. 

To think about what we want, how we feel, what alternatives are out there?   That point where we pause, consider, ponder.  That place where we go to say “I wonder” or “hum, what if” or we play with ideas?

Too often we are busy, busy, busy moving forward.  Got to keep moving or I’ll get passed by.  That’s what we tell ourselves.  
 
You might have been hearing lately that we should stop and make time for strategic planning activities.   Real strategic planning has been getting short changed in our quest for speed – if you haven’t, take note of this advice now.  If you need to, schedule time on your calendar to stop and do some.  
 
That being said, I believe we need to stop and make time for even more than that.  We need to stop and reflect.  To stop and ponder.  To give our busy minds downtime to process.  Providing a break in the pressure often leads to insights and creative spurts. 
 
As I was responding to a blog by Sally Hogshead earlier today I found myself in that observational frame of mind, the one that I move into when I’m pondering something.  An outside observers view.  I realized that it’s a state that I move into more frequently than most people do.  One might say that it is the root of my own blogs.  I don’t write about:
  • 7 insights for marketing success
  • advice for the needy
  • 12 steps to getting attention
  • how I succeeded and you can too
Ok, well maybe I do a bit of the last.  The key question is succeeded in what?  I can, and likely do define success quite differently than you do.
 
What do I do in my blogs?  I ask you to reflect.  To think.  To ponder and find insights.  I’m successful if I’ve made you think, at least according to my definition of success for our time here together. 
 
Have you noticed that every blog/article/post I have write has embedded questions?
Sure, I give you some information, sometimes a story, but I ask you to think for yourself, do some analysis, do some reflection.  To draw your own conclusions. 
 
Why?  Because I’ve come to understand that one facet of my Life’s Work or Life Goal/Purpose is to get people to think more.  To raise their self-awareness.  To help people become more authentic.  But how can you do this if you don’t take the time to stop and pause long enough to think?
 
Are you allocating your time to the right things?  The things you need – not just want, that have longer term value.  The things that relate to your Life, your Life’s work, what you want out of Life.  The Life that passes you by when you are too busy to notice.  Or, are you rushing along so fast, working working working, that you don’t even know what you want from Life? 
 
What is it that you want from Life?  Do you know?  I wonder…
 
At this point, I’m wondering why that commercial with the tag line of “what’s in your wallet” (Captial One maybe?) keeps running through my mind.  I’ve heard that phrase in my head at least four times as I’ve typed this.  Maybe it’s because I’m wondering about what’s in your mind.  So,
  • What is on your mind? 
  • Have you stopped to think and reflect lately? 
  • Have you stopped to think about what you want in Life?
  • What do you really want from your Whole Life, not just your Work Life? 

I wonder what you might find out if you did.

I’d like to ask you to stop with me today.  To look at yourself from a different viewpoint.  To think about what you want and how you feel?  To pause, consider, ponder.  To ask yourself “I wonder” or “hum, what if” and played with ideas instead of just taking action.

In closing, I wanted to share something I saved from my friend Jim Estill’s blog.  I think he got it from a book on Reflection, but don’t quote me on that… 

  • “It was said that Thomas Edison would often take his fishing rod, sit at the end of the pier, cast away, and then just sit there for hours.  However, he would never put any bait on his hook.  He didn’t really want to catch any fish.  What he wanted to do was to sit there uninterrupted, just reflecting on the issues of the day, on his work, or on whatever else came into his mind.  He knew that if he looked as if he were fishing, no one would bother him, so he could reflect uninterrupted.  All he really wanted to do was catch ideas.” 

So now I’m wondering…

  • How do you define success?
  • What do want to do or accomplish in Life?
  • What do you get from these ponderings of mine?  Do they actual provoke your thinking?

Will you share your thoughts?  It doesn’t take much, simply click on the word Comments – down there on the right.  Type in that text box and hit that Submit button.  I’d love to hear from you.

The Backstory

I have been thinking a lot this past month about the fact that I am a bit out of whack as it relates to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  Ok, so how many of you are thinking “what’s that?” 

Maslow’s hierarchy is something I learned about back in college.  Something that has stuck with me and has demonstrated the power of a good model and/or metaphor.  For those unfamiliar with this model, Maslow’s hierarchy falls within the domain of psychology and was first proposed by Abraham Maslow in 1943.  He explains this model in his 1954 book on Motivation and Personality. 

Now you might be thinking “that’s a very old model – 60 years! – does it really apply today”.  While there are those out there that argue with specifics – typically other psychology theoreticians – his model really is very solid overall.  If you want to read details of the model and the criticisms, you can find them on wikipedia.   

I have personally found Maslow’s hierarchy useful in:

  • Understanding where I am
  • Understanding where others are
  • Understanding where I want to or should focus time and energy
  • Identifying what is most needed and how to best help 
  • Answering the question “are you solving the right problem?” 

I’ve observed that some business interventions (and social too) are geared towards higher levels when the people who are in the midst of the change really need help with feeling that the lower levels are stable.  Something for you to think about during your next Change Program…   How might this affect how you craft Communications?

Maslow’s hierarchy is often seen as a pyramid.  The idea being that you are climbing to the top.  At the top of the pyramid is this concept of self-actualization. 

Self-actualization (in my terms, not necessarily Maslow’s) is when you reach that place of full potential.  You are becoming the person you want to be, what you are capable of, and expressing yourself and your beliefs.  You are truly living who you are.  However, to reach this level, all the other levels must be in place and stable.  In order to self-actualize, you must first master the four levels of needs found below:  physiological, safety, love, and esteem.  

Recently I’ve been feeling like I’m sliding backwards.  I also know that I am not alone in that feeling these days.  With all the chaos in the world these days – layoffs, business challenges, foreclosures – it can be hard to find time and/or energy to focus on yourself.  Where you truly are and who you truly want to be. 

I’ve been thinking about the fact that I want to be working on level 5, but that I seem to be living in the chaos of level 2, safety.  Safety you say?  Well in Maslow’s hierarchy, safety includes the roof over one’s head.  I find it hard to write, share, and support others the way I truly want to when faced with the on-going stress of keeping the house over our family’s head.  Sound like anyone you might know?  Yourself maybe?

The Story

If you have been reading my recent posts you will know that I have been talking (and thinking alot) about Elephants.  Today I realized that I have the big, hairy, ugly Elephant sitting on my shoulder with his trunk shoved into my ear repeating these phrases (or something similar):

  • “you are not good enough”
  • “you can’t keep up”
  • “you are letting other people down”
  • “who are you to think that you can write those books”

Mighty Mouse as envisioned by Sydney Purvis, age 8 upon hearing this story. ~~~@o:>

Guilt, guilt, guilt.  I’m sure you’ve been there, felt that.  Anyone saying “been there, done that”?

Ah ha, I went.  There’s an Elephant.  It’s hitting on my Maslow’s level 4.  I can name it.  It’s the Insecurity Elephant.  I can own it.  I can change it. 

So I decided to take action.  To get out my Mighty Mouse to fight that Elephant.  I’m going to own that Elephant and then kick it off my shoulder – metaphorically that is.

So here’s my Mighty Mouse  ~~~@:> (who I designed earlier today when emailing a friend).  Mighty Mouse, go to work my friend.  ~~~@:>  SQUEEAAKEEEEE!!!

Whew. 

In addition to helping myself mentally, when that metaphorical squeak resounded earlier today I thought hey, something to share.  Something to send out to the readers with hope that it helps, even if just a bit.  Bonanza, something that I can do related to Maslow’s level 5!  So here I am tonight, writing. 

Mighty Mouse might be small and often overlooked, but small things can have big impacts.  (Just ask the lady who gets a small box with an engagement ring in it)  Biggest isn’t always best.  Our self-dialog isn’t always helpful.  If nothing else I hope that my Mighty Mouse makes you laugh, even if only inside.  Laughter truly is good for you…in more ways that we often realize.   

I ask you to join me.  Let’s take some control back.  Maybe it will last for just a day, maybe for a week.  But that’s better than before. 

So I’m sending out my Mighty Mouse to visit you.  When in need call to Mighty Mouse.  Feel free to ask Mighty Mouse to help you with any of the Elephant(s) on your shoulder.  Don’t be afraid to send them to visit a friend too, Mighty Mouse travels well over email after all.

Here’s a Mighty Mouse for you.  ~~~@:>  SQUEEAAKEEEEE!!!

Me and My Imagination

Me and My Imagination

Today I was thinking about perspectives and viewpoints.  How our past experiences, thoughts, and imagination influence how we see things.  I wondered how often we (the collective we) stop to consider the background, experience, and baggage (yes baggage) that we bring to the (metaphorical) table.  How often do we stop and think about how something might look different from another perspective. 

As I was thinking about this, I started pondering how a tree would look different depending on where you were – the side, above it, or underneath.  It’s the same tree, but it would look very different depending on where you are viewing it from. 

I’d like to ask that you take you on a short mental walk with me.  Can you join me in your imagination?  I’m heading out the door now.  To my right is an evergreen tree.  On the left are some flowers.  Beyond those flowers is another evergreen.  I’d like to sit down now.  Will you join me?  Yes, I know, we didn’t go far.  But I think that is as far as we need to go to gain some insights in this pondering. 

I’d like you to stop for a moment and build a mental image around you.  That is if you haven’t already.  What do you see?  Try to picture all the things I mentioned.  Here are some questions to help you build your mental picture. 

As you walked through the door:

  • What did the door look like?  Was it open or closed?
  • What color was the door?  Did it have a window in it?
  • What type of handle did it have?  Did you turn it? 
  • If you opened the door, did you open it towards you or away from you?

As you moved outside:

  • What type of surface were you standing on? 
  • Was it wet or dry? 
  • What color is it?

As you pictured the evergreens and flowers:

  • What type of evergreen(s) did you visualize?  Are both evergreens the same type?
  • How tall are the evergreens?  Which one is taller?
  • Are there any pinecones or berries on the evergreen(s)?
  • What type of flowers do you see? 
  • Are they all the same type or is there a variety?  How tall are they? 
  • Are the flowers in bloom or dormant?  What colors are they? 
  • What do the stalks and leaves look like?

So what are you thinking now?  Me, I’m thinking that’s an awful lot of questions that we can all answer differently.  I could add even more, but I think you’ve got the picture (yes, pun intended).  I’d be very surprised if any of us have the same picture in our heads. 

Me, I’m sitting on a step.  Am I really?  No, but in my imagination I am.  In reality I’m several states away from where I am imagining I am.  In my imagination I’m sitting right outside my kitchen, on the step to my deck.  The step is made from a dark brown Trex, as is the floor of the deck where my feet are.  The pattern in the flooring runs different directions.  The sun is shining, but there are a few clouds in the sky.  I don’t need my sunglasses.  I didn’t mention the sky.  Did you consider it?  The evergreen on the right is tall with pinecones.  I can just see the top of it over my railing – not the whole evergreen.  Were you picturing Annuals or Perennials?  The flowers I was imagining are actually in a planter, not in the ground.  Honestly, they aren’t even planted yet.  I was just gathering my thoughts about what I want to plant there this year.  Picturing what it might look like.  I’m thinking about 3 different types with different heights and colors.  Probably a tall, spiky type plant in the middle with some pink and yellow around it.  The second evergreen looks shorter but is actually taller.  It’s down in the yard.  My yard slopes quite a bit, so the view from up here is quite a bit different from down there.

So what’s the point of this walk through our imaginations?

  1. We are all influenced by where we come from.  The physical location and environment we grew up and/or currently live in will likely affect the type of door, floor, plants and trees we visualize. 
    • If it has this much affect on such a small activity, imagine how much it might be affecting and influencing how we interact with others.
  2. Visualization is an important skill?  Did you have trouble visualizing?  Was this because you didn’t really try or because it is difficult for you?  If it is indeed difficult, what can you do to help build this skill?  My recommendation – read a fiction book.  Too often we watch a movie, play a video game, or engage in some other passive mental activity.  This has actually had an impact on developing the part of our mind that builds our visualization muscles.  For more information you can click hereto access wikipedia’s Portal to the Mind and Brain. 
    • How might your ability to imagine affect your ability to “see” others viewpoints?
  3. As I described my “perspective” did you change yours or did your picture stay the same?  How might this relate to how we “listen” to others? 
    • As others describe something to us, do we hold tightly to our viewpoint or do we try to make adjustments?

This my reader was but a short activity, a small slice of life.  Each and every day we interact with a myriad of people around us bringing our perspectives, backgrounds, thoughts, imaginations, and experiences with us.  Thousands, possible millions of things affect our unique perspectives.  Trying to understand where someone else comes from, their background and experiences can help you better “see” a situation through their unique viewpoint and perspective.  Digging deeper, asking more questions, and really seeking to build an entire mental image (whether metaphorical or actual) in our mind can help you view things more completely. 

Sometimes it’s important to slow down and really look around you.  To Stop, Look, and Listen.  You might be surprised.  Me, I’m going to stop a moment to enjoy some sunshine on my face in my imagination.  Later today I’m going to find some time to enjoy the real thing – I am after all in the “Sunshine State” of Florida at the moment.  As the old John Denver song says, “sunshine on my shoulder makes me happy.”  It also provides some much needed Vitamin D.  I don’t want to be deficient.

Guiding Principles

- Think Holistically
- Seek the Root Causes
- Respect the Individual
- Demonstrate Accountability
- Collaborate with Clients
- Work with Integrity, Always
- Relate to the Business Strategy
- Ensure Alignment
- Demonstrate Responsibility
- Transfer Skills

Thoughts and Quotes