I don’t watch much TV, but the one show I do watch on occasion is House. If you haven’t seen it before, Hugh Laurie plays a brilliant but unorthodox doctor who specializes in diagnosing strange disorders. He’s a creative (albeit cowboy) problem solver.
The one thing I’ve recently noticed is where his brilliant ideas consistently originate. He almost always comes up with his break-through ideas when he’s NOT working on a case. It is either something unrelated that someone else says, does or he sees. It is while his problem-solving thoughts are in incubation – while he is NOT thinking about the case, that his ideas flow. This is also called the Shower Moment.
I actually came up with the organization of my book while I was in the shower and it was from that moment that the writing really began to flow. It is a well-known fact in innovation practice that a period of not thinking about a problem can help new ideas bubble to the top.
One of the problems with the pace of busy business and entrepreneurial people, though, is that we rarely get the luxury of time away from our problems to think. I also found that in the extreme stress of the last few months of transition out of my first company, I lost my creativity. It was GONE. It may have been stress or maybe it was because I had lost the passion for what I was doing. Whatever the reason, I didn’t even realize it was absent until about 2 months later when it came screaming back. The block I had but didn’t know I had was suddenly gone and it was like a dam of ideas opened up.
So if you’re looking for a new idea, try not thinking about it. If that doesn’t work, take a look at reducing the stress in your life. If you’re still at a loss for ideas, check your passions.
What do you think: if you’re caught up working in something that for which you have no passion, no energy, can you still be creative? Have you had a similar experience?