Starting. In starting anything there will always feel a resistance, an initial inertia. This is a universal principle of physics. Everything in our universe is always in motion, and to help that along there needs some sort of lubrication, conductor or magnetic field. We see this in mechanical machines, planetary bodies as well as living things. In your own body saliva, mucus, cartilage and the like help our bodies move nutrients around, to defend against infections and give a smooth range of motion. Why is it then that given these wonderful systems that when we exert ourselves whether by exercise or otherwise that we experience resistance and tension within our bodies. It’s a matter of physics.
Get past the sludge:
While I don’t purport to know very much about physics it makes sense to me that our bodies are as much susceptible to the laws of physics, nature and the universe as any other creature or thing. Just because we have a mind and can think our way out of situations doesn’t mean we are not limited by our physicality. This is what came cross my mind as I was running around the track at the park. The first few minutes feel sludgy. It’s analogous to when you pull out the “lots of pulp” O.J. from the fridge and have to shake it up before drinking. This shaking-it-up and getting past the sludge to get the juices flowing is the same with our bodies. The first few minutes of a run must get past the inertia where we feel our bodies “wake-up” and hopefully get to a state of flow.
Our old ideas:
It is the same mechanism in any endeavour we do. The first tune we hum, the first bird house we build, the first painting we create, the first cake we bake. Initially it takes more energy to get over the inertia to get momentum going. The first attempts are what I call sludge. The stuff that was lying around in our head, full of old assumptions, expectations and the most obvious ideas. We don’t have our creative juices flowing and are dealing with not only learning the new task but figuring out how to make it our own. This drive to contribute and make something of our own is so ingrained and primal. Just look at children eagerly wanting to try the new crayons, the new toy or what-have-you.
In whatever project you are engaged in, and your regular day job being one of them, you will inevitably be faced with a task, a challenge and need to come up with ideas and ways to address it. You may be solely tasked with this or more likely than not you will have collaborators whether within your regular team or from cross functional teams. What first comes to mind is brainstorming. What may be heard is, “Let’s throw out some ideas.”. However, what is unsaid and what may happen is the first idea that seems reasonable gets chosen. What happened? I thought brainstorming was thinking up many ideas, wild and crazy ideas, as many ideas as you can think up, and then think of some more ideas. Typically it’s not our inability to come up with ideas but rather our inability to let go of old ideas. Think about that for a minute. Simple techniques such as reframing and challenging assumptions are easy ways to get your mind primed to come up with new and innovative ideas.
A Brainstorming two-step:
Here’s a quick and dirty take on brainstorming.
• Reiterate the objectives and roles
• Give each member of the group post-it notes,
• Everyone writes their ideas on the post-it notes simultaneously,
• as they post it on the wall they verbalize the idea,
• Do it while moving around and standing up,
• keep going until the you have 100 ideas or the wall is full.
• Listen to others ideas and piggyback on them if you can.
Think of it as a dance, with movement and energy. The objective is to generate ideas and not to censor them. Every idea at the brainstorming stage is a potential good idea or one that could be the root of a great idea.
A juicy challenge:
To test your juices, here is your challenge. Come up with 100 ideas on what to do with garbage. It may take you as little as 30 minutes or longer, just remember that the first few, ten, twenty ideas may just well be the sludge you need to get through before your brilliance can shine.
Try it, post it, share it here or on our facebook page, CR8-Infinitum