Creative Project and Design Management

The curious beauty of a pause

Did you also spend many minutes (or hours) in your youth staring at this picture with impatience, waiting for the antenna to suddenly regain signal? Did you struggle to make the decision to stand up from the comfortable sofa and change the channel? Or even better, the decision to move from that sofa and go to another room?

We have all been there. (Well, at least those of my generation!)

In those minutes of pause I personally felt irritation, frustration and impatience. Then — all of a sudden — a magical primary instinct to start moving, go beyond the stillness and begin something new. For instance, writing stories about a cathode ray tube transporting me to a new and better world somewhere far away.

I believe these days are not so different. 

Semi-confined in living rooms, we have the chance to appreciate the beauty of the pause this period is offering. We can decide to move from that frustration and boredom into a world full of possibilities. We can stare out windows and let the time pass by, or we can let everything blur in front of us and from there develop a strategy to explore and choose new directions. 

Similar to life, there are also moments in projects where it all gets blurred, where we can’t find the energy or the motivation to move from that stalled situation into action. Those are the moments where a pause is absolutely necessary: pauses should indeed not be avoided but established consciously in any project or creative process.

You’d probably agree with me that we all have moments of staring blankly at a question, email, challenge or issue with no ideas. Most of the time we tend to try to escape — we wait for someone to reconnect the antenna or press the automatic pilot button. When this happens, it’s good to recognize it as the best moment to take a pause. Having a moment of staring and stillness helps create space to reactivate our creativity.

Staying curious 

Pauses offer the best chance to be creative, by helping us stay curious. So, let’s see how we can reactivate curiosity:

  1. Dare to think the extraordinary – the sky’s the limit.
  2. Embrace doubts and uncertainties
  3. Ask questions
  4. Zoom in, zoom out

It’s human to react with fear to a problem, and it’s also absolutely normal to start gliding away from what needs to be done. But even when this happens naturally, it’s important to activate curiosity in yourself and promote curiosity for your team. Acting in repeat/automatic mode can stop you from crafting a strategy, forming a vision which can be inspiring, triggering new behaviours and unfolding new results.

So try this. Take a break for a moment. Let yourself be intrigued by a question. Now make yourself comfortable and start exploring where your imagination brings you.

Take that grey TV screen at the top of this blog, for example, and think about how it could be different?

Maybe like this:

Tip of the day

Let dazzling issues stimulate your creativity by pushing you to think about how challenges can be transformed into new opportunities. I can reassure you that you’ll get to a totally different picture than just by staring; something similar to the one above, showing multifaceted dimensions, a variety of possible colours and much more inspiration for the team.

Images: SVZULBertlmann, Karen Huntt

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