Get some distance from YOU!

Posted on September 7, 2009



Try to solve this problem:

A prisoner was attempting to escape from a tower. He found a rope in his cell that was half as long enough to permit him to reach the ground safely. He divided the rope in half, tied the two parts together, and escaped. How could he have done this?

The answer; this is known as an ‘insight problem’ since the solution – the prisoner unraveled the rope lengthwise and tied the remaining strands together. Typically the solution arrives in a flash of insight once you can think about it for a little while.

It’s all about perspective. I love video games. I’ve spent countless hours playing all kinds of games in my lifetime. There have been many occasions when I would get stuck on a level- unable to solve the problem, vanquish the foe, or finish the puzzle. After hours of frustrating myself, I usually stomp away for a day or two. Almost every time, when I would resume game-play, I would be able to resolve the problem on the first try. Why is that? Sometimes you need a little distance in order to come up with the right solution.

I find this particulary true in creative endevours. We get so close to the project that the solution might be staring you in the face and it’s still missed. That’s why it’s so important to recognize when you hit a creative wall, you should stop for a break.

You should be intentional about how you spend your distance. Engage in activities that are opposite to what you are currently working on. A lot of new ideas can be birthed with a little ‘distant’ activity. Here are a few constructive ways to catalyze creativity while trying to get distance from a project

  • Read a book about a different craft
  • Go to a new restaurant or eat a  new/creative/exotic food
  • Go for a run or workout
  • Dance or sing
  • Write in your journal or draw in your sketch pad
  • Watch a movie commentary on a DVD
  • Have a stimulating conversation with someone much different from yourself.
  • Pray and meditate

By giving yourself a little distance and spending it intentionally, the solution to your creative problem will no doubt emerge. Everything you need is already inside, you just need a little space to release it.

Posted in: Simplicity Sells