The clock has sprung forward, and now it's our turn! Here are some ideas and inspirations to get you going. I'm off to the United States again and will keep my eyes open for new ideas to share with you in the May Brainstorm e-bulletin. Let's get started:
What are you avoiding?
We all have things that we know we should do, but that we avoid because we don't enjoy them. This could be exercising, handling paperwork, getting organized or making telephone calls, for example. In an Internet article, Kevin Beegle, president of Physiques in Motion, gave some advice for how to guarantee that you will stick to an exercise program. The same advice could help us with anything we're avoiding, so in the list below, where I've put the asterisks, insert the phrase that describes what you may be avoiding:
– Begin looking at *** differently. Focus on the benefits instead of the process itself.
– Think small. Break down *** into sections or parts and set some realistic goals.
– Get a *** partner. Make an appointment for both of you to tackle something you're avoiding (it doesn't have to be the same thing) and then commit to doing it at that time.
– Change your *** more often. Try some different ways of achieving the outcome you want.
– Hire a personal trainer. Who is an expert at *** ? Hire that person once or for regular sessions to help you do what you're avoiding more efficiently and effectively.
– *** at a different time of day. Experiment with when you find it easiest maybe first thing, to get it out of the way, or between two more pleasurable activities, for example.
– Plan to *** for a minimum of six months. After a while, you'll find it has become a habit.
Action: Decide which of the above changes would have the most positive impact, and try it today.
Are you using the power of waiting?
Robert Epstein, Ph.D., editor of Psychology Today, noted in one of his columns: "In my laboratory research, I've learned about the enormous benefits waiting has for creativity. When people are struggling to solve a problem, the more time they have, the more creative they become. Even long periods of inactivity are eventually followed by breakthroughs. The main challenge is to teach people to relax while 'nothing' seems to be happening."
Action: Is there something you feel you might be rushing? Consider how to build in some time to allow your subconscious mind to work on it. One useful approach: Have two projects going, and alternate between them. The active time on one becomes the 'doing nothing' time for the other.
More radical: Give yourself some time off to really do nothing it doesn't have to be long, even as little as one day. Key point: In this period, give yourself full permission to do nothing so you are not distracted by the feeling you really should be doing something.
The care and feeding of ideas
You've heard before about the importance of carrying around a notebook so you can capture ideas. Here, from an article by designer Mark Oldach in HOW magazine, are further useful tips:
– Within 24 hours of a meeting or interview, review your notes, expand on them, connect ideas, ask new questions.
– Let the information or new ideas settle (as in item two above).
– Give others on your team your new notes and ask them to expand on them as well.
– During your "stewing" period, jot down any new thoughts that come up, clip any articles that seem relevant, etc. and keep them all in one place. I find box files work really well for this.
– Try expressing new ideas in pictures as well as words. You don't need to be a great artist for this. I would add: Try to involve all the senses. What will your customers or clients say? What will they feel? And what will they see?
Action: Consider whether these steps would be useful in a current project, or build them into your plans for an upcoming project. In your project file, keep a log of what is most helpful so you can apply it in the future as well.
Do you have a fall-back plan?
Most of what's written about entrepreneurship and achievement accentuates the positive, but it's also useful to consider what could happen if you fail. A business executive learned this from media mogul Ted Turner:
"Ted, although giving the public appearance that he shoots from the hip, is actually very conservative fiscally and always has a well-thought-out plan in case things go wrong," he wrote in Inc magazine. A personal example: At the moment I have a new book proposal being circulated to publishing companies, but I also have a fall-back plan for self-publishing it and promoting it via the internet.
Action: For the major projects you have or would like to have, take some time to brainstorm fall-back plans. Sometimes this will prompt you to build in certain features right from the start.
Are you sharing your knowledge?
Tim Sanders, executive and author of the book "Love Is the Killer App," writes: "Over and over again, I've discovered that the businesspeople who are the busiest, the happiest and the most prosperous are the ones who are the most generous with their knowledge and their expertise.
"People who love what they're doing, who love to learn new things, to meet new people, and to share what and whom they know with others: These are the people who wind up creating the most economic value and, as a result, moving their companies forward."
Action: Keep a batch of postcards and envelopes handy. When you run across an interesting new idea or product, take a moment to think about which of your friends or colleagues might benefit most, and jot down the information and their name. Once a week, complete the addressing and stamping and post these notes. Of course you can also do it via e-mail, but these days the impact of an actual card or letter is much greater.
And finally, a thought to consider…
This one is from George Bernard Shaw: Life is a series of inspired follies. The difficulty is to find them to do. Never lose a chance. It doesn't come every day.
Until next time,
P.S. — You might enjoy checking out our Brainstorm Web site and seeing my most recent book, "Do Something Different," available from Amazon.com.
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