Lesson 2 of my Creativity course! – ‘Observation is Key’
Week Two, and the theme is ‘The Power of Paying Attention’. In this lesson Tina talks about the importance of always being aware and engaged with our surroundings.
‘Focused observation and commitment to seeing what’s happening is an important key to innovation’
So it was only a short lesson broadcast by Tina but she shared a number of excellent resources all relevant to ‘Paying Attention’. A lot of the focus day to day lies within ‘What am I doing tomorrow?’, ‘What happened yesterday?’ or ‘Shoot, I really need to do XYZ by XYZ or this or that will happen’. Even whilst we are having an interaction with someone it can be hard to focus on what they are saying, or even notice our surroundings because our brains are so busy and our lives seem to be non-stop.
The first of these resources was a TED talk by Julian Treasure. Julian talks about the importance of listening and offers some exercises to practice ‘The Art of Listening’. He believes that through the evolution of our intelligence and resources we could be harming our ability to listen and retain information from one another.
I know I am guilty of this, especially out and about and say, expecting a phone call. Gone are the days when I would prioritize an important call that could contain important information as 90% of the time the caller will summarize with ‘Well I will put all of this into an email and send it across to you’ I would think, Phew, that’s me off the hook! We rarely have to retain information in our heads now as we have every kind of resource thinkable available to us. From the Internet, to our smartphones to note pads even. (Of course all of these things are brilliant and exceptional developments in our society, but you get my gist)
The first exercise Julian suggests in order to listen and observe better, is simply to just enjoy some silence or quiet for 3 minutes a day to re-calibrate our ears and brains.
The second exercise could be a little tougher, but also pretty interesting and could be a great brain workout. Julian talks about creating your own personal mixer in your head and trying to work out how many channels that you have going at any one time. The next step to this exercise would be to try and control the volume of these channels, so you could work that part of your brain in preparation for a time when it could be difficult to focus.
The last part of this TED lecture (and my favorite) is the anagram RASA. This is a Sanskrit word for Essence. I love a good Anagram (The US must be rubbing off on me – teehee)
The final resource to mention is a snippet from a lecture by Tom Kelley, from IDEO. His premise comes from the phrase ‘Think like a traveller’. What he means by this phrase is, think like you are on vacation in a place that is different from your homeland/culture.
Tom notes that whilst in a different habitat your brain naturally dials itself up to being hyper aware of all the differences laid out before you, and you naturally draw comparisons and opinions based on your surroundings. His advice for creativity would be to note these observations down, be it in a notepad, diary or on your smartphone or tablet. As he states, nobody is more of an expert of your own experience than yourself. This is our greatest attribute and should be kept in mind whilst trying to come up with new ideas. It can train our brains to make different pathways for solutions to any problems we may face, be it in the workplace or in our everyday lives.
I am going to end this tremendously long post with a fabulous quote that Tom left us with.
‘The real act of discovery consists not of seeing new lands, but seeing with new eyes’ – Marcel Proust.
So I am off to get started on my listening exercises and my assignment!
Wish me luck!
PS – Another gem of an idea Tina talked about is this fantastic initiative, you must check it out.