Our speaker at 12 Hay Hill, Mayfair on 9th March 2017 was Chris Lewis, the founder and CEO of LEWIS, the largest employee owned communications business in the world with 28 offices on two continents. Chris is also the author of the best-selling book on creativity, Too Fast To Think and this was the subject of the talk.
When and where do you get your best ideas, those blinding epiphanies? It isn’t when you’re at work (even if you work from home). It’s most likely to be when you’ve switched off, on your own and not trying. The inspiration in the bath is a humorous cliché but the fact that it is also true should teach us something about creative thinking. We need to allow ourselves time and space to be creative. We should replace our ‘To do’ lists with ‘To be’ lists.
We have two ways of perceiving the world, left and right brain thinking. The left side analyses and overthinks everything and is very powerful in keeping us in a closed mindset, whereas the right brain is the opposite, the creative side. Over analysing holds people back and we should stop seeing it as a crime to ‘waste time’.
People are now interrupted every 5 to 6 minutes a day and each time that happens, we lose our thought process and our brain goes back into analytical mode. Much of this interruption is self-inflicted. A straw poll of the room found that we check our e-mails between 20 and 100 times a day. We feel we must. But do we? We need to stop overloading ourselves. We constantly check our e-mails because we believe that we must answer them quickly. But being busy is an illusion; it does not equate to being productive. Taking more time will produce much better results.
To develop a creative environment, you need to give yourself time and space and stop trying so hard. When you’re playing golf, the harder you grip the club the poorer your performance. Releasing the grip gives far better results.
Employers and investors need to stop judging on short term results. Taking a longer term, less rushed, view will produce far better results.
We need to retrain ourselves to become better at creative thinking. Our education system, particularly at degree level, teaches us to over analyse everything; we are not taught to think creatively, that must be relearned.
Women use the left brain on themselves; they over analyse and over-criticise themselves. They may have strong skill sets, but very often they have low self- esteem, and feel that they aren’t good enough for roles, something called the imposter syndrome. That can be experienced by men, but is less common.
Chris concluded; “Britain has a great brand; we are seen as trusted, well behaved and disciplined with a great sense of humour. Eccentrics are accepted. We need to embrace that side of our national character. It encourages creativity.”
So switch off your phone, relax and start feeling the force. Oh and read his book before you get distracted again by something bright and shiny flickering in the corner of your eye.