You need to leave the box to think out of it

by: September 30, 2013

I was walking the dogs this morning, bumped into a ‘dog walker’ friend (all regular dog walkers tend to know each other) and the conversation turned to how important hard work was in order to be successful in business.  ‘I bet you’ve solved many business problems when you’ve been walking the dogs’ he said to me.  ‘You’re right,’ I replied. ‘In fact thinking about it, I’ve probably solved many more problems and come up with many more ideas when I’ve been walking the dogs or out for a jog than I have when I’ve been sitting in the office.’

The ability to ‘think outside the box’, or perhaps more simply put, creative thinking, is an essential attribute of any entrepreneur or business owner who’s going to do better than the rest.  It’s all about solving problems you know you’ve got, finding solutions to challenges you hadn’t even realised you had, standing back from the business and seeing the whole picture.  So how do you do that amongst the pressure of so many things to be done with so little time?
 
Use Demi-Downtime
 
Well, part of the answer lies in the effective use of demi-downtime. Demi-downtime is the real-life state of mind when you’ve left the office and you’re not full on ‘at work’. It is, however, when you are still mulling over work issues, thinking through challenges, coming up with ideas, making decisions generally in the back of your mind, sometimes consciously and sometimes sub-consciously. In fact as an entrepreneur, you are most likely in this state of mind when chilling, relaxing, down the gym or even when walking the dog.
 
It gives you the time to think, free from many of the less important pressures that you are conscious of whilst at the office or buried in work. Thinking about issues whilst in demi-downtime allows the brain to think creatively, to reflect and to move one’s train of thought in another direction other than the obvious and to see a solution. To do this effectively you have to organise your life so that demi-downtime opportunities exist: such as my walking of the dogs, but it could be other physical activities or other therapeutic opportunities such as lying quietly in the bath (just like Archimedes).
 
Teach Yourself To Think Creatively
 
Another part of the answer lies in teaching yourself to think creatively.  Find new ways to exercise your imagination in non-work activities: So for example, if you don’t already, then start reading good quality fiction; visit art galleries; read quality newspapers; go to the opera or strike up conversations with people you don’t already know and learn from them. I guarantee that these will be fertile environments which, over time, will enhance your ability to think creatively.
 
Have A Trusted Third-Party
 
And the final part of the answer, is discussing your opportunities and challenges with a trusted third party.  This is often a life partner, or it could also be someone you know and trust in business who has the ability to see the wood for the trees, and the experience to be able to apply him or herself to most business issues. The third party won’t always come up with the answers, but the very act of discussion with someone who listens properly and understands can trigger great solutions.

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About Author

Paul is Zonata's founder and MD. He has a true passion for business and is massively excited by the opportunities that Zonata provides for its clients and partners. He loves helping owner-managed businesses be exceptionally successful, and enjoys the phenomenal quality of the people who work with him.



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