Where creative answers come from
Photo :: Sherbrooke Forest, outside Melbourne, Australia (by me)
Like a spring flower just coming up from the ground, I'm slowly emerging from a three-month sabbatical where I turned the noise down on my life, including contributing to this blog. I created a quiet space for myself with no external input (no email, no social media, no clients). As a result I got answers to several big life and career questions I’ve been asking.
Creating this quiet space was crucial to my continued growth as a coach, a creative person and as a human being. I was able to see clearly and listen to my inner voice. Some big a-ha moments happened.
All of us face big and small challenges in life and in work from time to time. And although not all of us can take three months off (it took me five years to be able to do it) the concept of quiet space can still apply in your life every day.
To get answers to our problems we can ask a friend for advice, hire a consultant, work with a coach, read a book, attend a conference or participate in a workshop. Those are all good options (I've used them all myself) but there's a closer and more immediate source that can help you figure things out - you.
You have the power and creativity to solve every one of your problems. Your inner voice knows what's best for you and if you listened to it more frequently and more carefully you would save yourself time, energy and money.
But how can we possibly hear what goes on inside of us if all we hear is noise from the outside?
We live in a culture of constant noise and opinion. Everyone has something to say and something to sell. Next time you scroll down your Facebook wall or Twitter feed, notice all the noise. Most of what you'll see is people (or companies) sharing their opinion or promoting something. It's really all about them. Noise noise noise.
I'm amazed at the solutions my coaching clients come to when they access their inner voice. But to hear that voice we must create a space where the noise is reduced and your higher self can be heard.
So how do I hear that inner voice? I take a walk.
Friedrich Nietzsche said "All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking". When Im facing a problem or whenever I find myself in a creative block, I take a walk. Staring at a computer screen searching for inspiration doesn't cut it. I need to move my body and circulate my blood so it can turn my brain ON and spark new ideas.
Walking is the universal way to solve problems. Most of us walk for the sake of getting exercise or to get from one place to another. We'll often have a pair of headphones on listening to music or a podcast, or we'll walk with a friend engaged in a conversion.
The kind of walking I am talking about is walking for the sake of walking with an intention to get present, slow down and listen.
Next time you face a tough problem, try this first: take a thirty minute walk. Leave your computer/phone behind, take no music and if possible, walk in nature. Gift yourself time and space to reduce noise so you can listen to a new voice - yours.
Start your walk by getting present. Take a few breaths and look around. Notice your landscape and connect to your surrounding. Drop your thoughts. Don't force anything. As you walk you may start thinking about your problem. This will come naturally. When thoughts come up, observe them and start asking questions like "what could I try?" or "What seems to be wrong with this situation?". Be curious. Don't expect an answer, just be in inquiry and play.
Suddenly, a path may open. Slowly, ideas may spark. You may see something new in the situation or get an idea about a different approach to the problem. It may not be THE solution but you might get an idea about where to go to get the right answer. And sometimes, of course, the answer will blossom before you like the most beautiful spring flower, waiting for you to notice.