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Ideas are the life-force of business.

Active ImageHow much time do you make in your working day to give them room to grow? By Robert Gerrish

While running a workshop late last year, I was talking about the topic of ideas to the assembled group of small business owners. Beginning with the question: “What’s so good about having ideas?”

Responses were immediate and confirmed the importance of generating ideas if we are to develop our businesses and constantly evolve. If we’re not having ideas we’re not really moving forward in our work or our lives.

Ideas signal an increase in clarity. They represent a solution to an existing issue or are the beginning of a new direction or action. Ideas open up new pathways which can take us toward added prosperity, increased wealth and greater satisfaction in our work.

When was the last time you put priority on creating time and space for ideas? It can be very challenging to advance and grow at the best of times, and yet here we are not fully respecting our own talents to solve and create.

Next I asked the group to tell me under what circumstances did they have their best ideas. Their responses really surprised me: when riding my motorbike, in the bath, when on holiday, when reading fiction, while cycling, when swimming, when painting, when deeply relaxed, when playing with my children, at the Opera or music concert, when out walking.

Not one said it was when they were working! I was stunned. I thought one or two people at least, would have said their ideas came while at work. This shows me that if we’re to think creatively about our work, if we’re to find new solutions to problems, we must prioritise time away from our desks.

I guess this is what the Dalai Lama was getting at when he commented that whenever he has masses of work to do he meditates even longer than usual in preparation. Imagine that. You’re so busy that you actually walk away from your work to get clarity and generate ideas to lessen the work you have to do. Fascinating.

So how do we do this? How do we introduce ‘idea time’ into our busy lives? The answer is actually very straightforward. First, we need to determine when as individuals we have our best ideas. Often it’s when we are outside and it’s frequently associated with leisure and physical activity.

There’s so much talked about regarding balance of life and work. This concept confirms that we need balance within our work. Put time aside—block it in your diary—to do those things you absolutely need to do. And even more importantly, make sure those around you do the same.
An hour a day (or even an hour every other day) doing something that releases your creative juices will be far better for you and your business than an hour stressing out over an action list or project plan. Prioritise time for ideas and you’ll reap the most surprising rewards. 

Robert Gerrish is a coach, writer, presenter and founder of Flying Solo, the online magazine for solo business owners (www.flyingsolo.com.au)

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