In This Edition:
1. A Young Man’s Fancy
2. Take to the Neural Highway
3. Creativity Springs Anew
4. Better Decisions Through Better Thinking
A Young Man’s Fancy
One year in Connecticut, for a three day period during mid-February, the temperature reached an astounding seventy degrees. Everything began to bloom. The smell of spring was in the air. Then a storm hit, vanquishing every bud. The resulting spring was lousy, and a mystery of nature had been revealed to me: Spring, essentially, equaled sufficient temperature.
Take to the Neural Highway
The mystery of the brain is a bit more complex. As one passes 35, 40, 45, and 50 years of age, slowly we each become familiar with certain thought and activity patterns that literally form neural pathways in the brain. All the while, we don’t realize what is occurring. These patterns literally become second nature to us. However they are not necessarily permanent – unless we allow them to be. If you’re not careful, the neural pathways you develop will define and eventually rule the rest of your career.
It’s not that people can’t change as they advance in age; it’s that their neural pathways become more firmly entrenched. Fortunately, you can change, at any age but it requires effort. Simply knowing that neural pathways exist and that they can be re-routed helped to free me from some of my own preconceived notions regarding work, life, and what I want to get done.
Years ago, I set out on a course which I think has paid off and could work for you as well. I take different paths home, hence helping me to form new neural pathways. I listen to classical music occasionally, although it is not my favorite type of music. I read magazines on topics that are outside of my immediate interest area.
I attend movies, plays, and concerts that are not necessarily my first choices. As long as I am exposed to different plots, characters, scenery, sounds, and other ways of seeing the world, I consider the experience to be beneficial. I visit websites that display viewpoints with which I do not necessarily agree. I read articles by authors whose biases are obvious. I ask young people for their opinion and I ask people older than myself for their opinion as well.
Creativity Springs Anew
I know people who will take courses on topics completely out of their field, who try new dishes at restaurants, and who strive to keep themselves open to new ideas. The odd and wonderful thing is, you can do all kinds of new and different activities in your personal life that will serve to stimulate your creativity at work, break free of attachment, and overcome the inertia of immobility when you want to get things done. Here are a few ideas:
Take a planned 15-minute break twice daily
Away from work:
Change your magazine subscriptions
In general, to develop your awareness:
Take an impromptu weekend trip to someplace you haven’t visited
Enroll in a course
Join a book discussion group
Volunteer at a charity
Take up a new sport
Better Decisions Through Better Thinking
The ultimate pay-off that these types of activities generate is the ability to have a free and open mind; to make decisions on reasonably accurate observations as well as drawing upon one’s collective experience.
In a Fast Company article titled "Decisions, Decisions" Anna Muoio says, "Stripped down to essentials, business is about one thing: making decisions. We’re always deciding something, from the small and daily such as which emails to answer, what meetings to have, to the macro and strategic such as what product to launch and when…"
So…. how could you improve your decision-making ability, starting today, without doing a lot more work?