There was an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer not too long ago written by the owner of a successful toy manufacturing company.
Early in the article, he described the humble beginnings of the company he started in the basement of his parents’ house. I was reminded right away that Apple Computer started in the garage of Steve Jobs’s parents’ house.
There’s something quintessentially American about successful companies with humble beginnings. What can we learn from this pattern, aside from the nostalgia or frugality of it? What clues are there in these humble beginnings?
Maybe it’s this: So many wonderful creative ideas were not born in a typical sterile workplace. Those amazing ideas didn’t happen in offices or conference rooms that are typical of corporate America.
They happened in other places.
In my own case I often think of a new idea when I’m not at the office. In fact, some of the best ideas occur to me when I’m not sitting at my desk in front of a computer and when I’m not even in a traditional work setting. I might be taking a walk or driving, not thinking about business at all. And suddenly, an idea comes to me. It’s as if my mind was searching for it even when I wasn’t consciously thinking about it. (And there’s actually quite a bit of research suggesting this is exactly the case.)
You may have noticed that in your own life, and here’s how you can use that: If you’re experiencing a creative block, or you’re trying to solve a problem, get out of your typical environment. Even if you work at home, get out of the office and go somewhere else. Allow your mind to take in some new sights and sounds and other things.
Stop thinking about the problem.
Stop trying to come up with a solution and just let your mind wander.
Take in some new sights and sounds and let your brain do the work that it’s always doing back there in the background. And trust that it will continue to work on those problems as you explore new things and just get out of that typical work environment. Getting away from the office is often the best way to discover of something truly great.
Question: Away from your desk, where have you gotten your best ideas?