Have you ever been in a situation where you simply cannot see your way forward? You’ve tried and tried and tried and tried and… nothing! It can be so frustrating. I’ll never forget, my sophomore year in college, I took a math class that engendered such a feeling of frustration.
About two weeks into the semester, Professor Michael Albertson, greeted us as we walked into the classroom on a Friday morning for class by handing us each a packet of papers and saying, “Hello. Here is your take home test. It’s due on Monday. Have a nice weekend.” Once everyone had received her packet, he left the room and we were left stunned.
I dutifully took the test back to my dorm and got to work. Several hours later – after the sun had long set and the week hours of night were waning – I went to bed in tears. I had answered exactly none of the questions. I did not know how to solve them. I was devastated.
About seven hours later, as the sun was peeking its head over the horizon, I woke up… wiped the sleep from my eyes… sat down at my desk… and got to work. Within four hours, I had answered (correctly) every question on the exam.
What was the difference maker? A break.
Essentially, I gave my mind time to rest, to process the questions, to consider possible solutions.
Creative thinking master, Roger von Oech, encourages us to pause for a bit. He cites poet, Doug King, on the value of incubating, “Learn to Pause… or nothing worthwhile will catch up to you.” von Oech tells us to “allow the Muse to whisper in your ear.” Indeed.
On what initiatives could you benefit from a pause. Breathe in. Breathe out. Slow down… if only for a bit. Take a nap. Let the creativity flow.