Door to door, the trip is three and a half hours. Now, I could fly, but then I’d miss the best part: spending that time alone, with the top down on the car and music blasting on the stereo.
Well, I’m not exactly alone. Lots of friends keep me company. Everyone from Kenny Loggins to K.D. Lang, from Paul Simon to Carly Simon, from Boz Skaggs to Pavarotti.
There is no computer in front of my face, no keyboard at my fingertips. No messy papers stacked high, no sticky notes plastered on my computer screen, no annoying Outlook “reminders” popping up with that “ding” that makes me feel guilty about all my incomplete tasks.
No distractions. Just me and the music.
And it’s wonderful.
The wind blows the cobwebs out of my head. The music opens my heart and inspires my imagination.
It never fails — I get fresh perspectives on complex issues or new ideas during those drives. Somehow I just see things differently with the wind in my hair, sun on my shoulders and the music loud.
It’s a creative time. I do my best thinking when I’m not even trying to think.
These road trips teach me two things:
- There is always more than one way to accomplish what you want.
There are only seven notes on the musical scale – seriously – seven notes. But throw in sharps, flats and harmonies and these same seven notes create an infinite variety of music. Now add different rhythms, tempos, melodies, harmonies and lyrics and you have an unfathomable diversity of music.
So often we see things only from one perspective, and that’s when we get stuck. We see only one solution, one “right” way. But the diversity of music – all derived from those same seven notes — teaches me that there are limitless possibilities. What might be possible if we applied a new tempo, different lyrics or added harmonies whatever we’re working on?
- We could all use more of this creative, strategic thinking time.
Our “thinking time” gets neglected (or buried!) in the avalanche of emails, meetings, phone calls, spreadsheets, tweets and bank statements. But think about this…
Research tells us that behind every story of major advance is a turning point where someone has a useful idea that changes their field or starts a new one. Strategic intuition explains what happens in the mind of whoever has that idea.
Simply put, “strategic intuition” is good ideas. These good ideas most often come to you as flashes of insight, when you don’t expect them — in the shower, in traffic, falling asleep, in your dreams. The fog clears and you see what to do.
So where is your creative space?
If you want to apply new thinking to old problems, if you want to foster those flashes of insight, you have to allow yourself enough “empty space” – time when your mind is not cluttered with the demands of work and life. Get lost in the music!
As we head into those “lazy, hazy, crazy” days of summer, I hope you’ll create a bit of empty space for yourself. It might be a road trip with the top down and the stereo up. It might be parking yourself in a lounge chair on a beach somewhere. It might be sitting on a rock in Sedona.
My hope for you is that you will find whatever feeds your spirit and nurtures your imagination. You’ll uncover new perspectives on old problems. You’ll discover infinite ways to take those seven notes and apply new lyrics and harmonies.
Whatever it is, just rest your mind. Then make beautiful music.