Thursday, September 21, 2006

Setting the Stage for Serendipity

Why is it that so many great ideas occur when we are engaged in activities that have nothing to do with the subject?

There is something about detachment that permits other perspectives to surface and, although this is far from a deep examination of the matter, I've noticed the following:
  • The fact that you're not working on the subject doesn't mean you're not working on the subject. Pushing a project to the back of your mind is not the same as removing it entirely. Often, it will come forward when your mind is ready for it. Not directly addressing the subject better prepares the mind for that moment.
  • Don't assume that the insight will be unforgettable. Carry notecards with you so you can write down the thoughts as they occur. If you don't do this, you lose some good material.
  • Consider your environment. When do those moments of insights tend to occur? While you're on your daily walk or in the back yard or just before meetings? Try to pinpoint the times and circumstances so you can duplicate them.
  • Recognize that one aspect of environment is that by being there you are not elsewhere and that "elsewhere" may be an idea inhibitor.
  • Know when to back away. Why continue to stare at an office wall when you'll get greater insight in a coffeeshop?
  • Don't force your thoughts. The more you do so, the less likely that anything original will occur. You want to create the setting and then see if the ideas appear.

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