Personal Energyby Stuart Harris
Energy for creativity and pragmatism
You and your team can be both creative and pragmatic – it’s a matter of pointing your energy in the right direction at the right time.
Creative thinking is sometimes called ‘out-of-the-box’ or ‘blue-sky thinking’, while people talk about practical thinking in terms of ‘down to earth’ or ‘getting down to business’. To get the difference between the energy of creative thinking and the energy of practical thinking, just notice those words.
- You get creativity by directing the energy of your attention up and wide.
- You get pragmatic by directing the energy of your attention down and tight.
This applies equally to individuals and to teams.
Creativity is making new connections between things. For creativity to happen, you have to open up your frames of reference – get out of the box – loosen up and let things connect in their own way, with their own energy.
Physically, you can help this creativity to flow by leaning back (if you’re sitting), keeping your gaze/attention up and using your peripheral vision – seeing as much as possible and focusing on nothing in particular.
To practise this skill of using peripheral vision, sit comfortably and focus your attention on a spot above eye level on the wall opposite you. Do this in a way so that your head is still level and it is just your eyes that are looking up above the horizontal. Now, without moving your eyes, expand your focus wider and wider so you can see all the way round to the sides and into the periphery of your visual field. If you can position yourself so there is something moving at the edge of your vision, this can help. This may be a tree moving in the wind or traffic glimpsed out of a side window.
Notice how, even with your eyes still facing forward and slightly upwards, you can see right around to the sides. As you settle into doing this, also notice how you feel in comparison to how you felt before you started. Notice also what you can hear.
Most people report that in this state pf peripheral vision, they feel calmer and less stressed. Their self-talk quietens down. They hear more of what is going on around them and they say that they feel generally more receptive and open.
It is this open, calm and receptive space that is useful for noticing new ideas, hunches and intuitions.
Your task (as an individual or as a team) is to open up the creative space, and then just notice what happens in the space and tap into the energy that’s generated there.
Practicality is about turning ideas into physical reality. For practicality to happen, you have to narrow down your frames of reference, leaving no space for things that aren’t relevant. Focus the energy of your attention down on the physical details of what has to be done. Now you have to supply the energy to make things connect in reality, and reject things that don’t connect.
Physically, you can help this happen by leaning forward (if you’re sitting) and focusing your gaze/attention down – on your workspace or computer screen, for example.
Your task (as an individual or as a team) is to gather together what the creative space has produced and bring it down to earth into the practical space so that it can be made real.
- Be clear, with yourself and others, when you’re in the creative space and when you’re in the practical space.
- You can switch back and forth between the two spaces as often as you like – just be clear which space you’re in.
- When you’re in the creative space, beware of
- Energy coming down too low – keep the energy open and up
- Focusing on individual details
- The word ‘but’, which chokes off creative energy and limits the creative space
- The temptation to get practical as a way of avoiding the uncertainty of the creative space.
- When you’re in the practical space, beware of
- Energy drifting out and/or up – keep it focused and down
- Allowing attention to wander and fragment
- The temptation to go back to the creative space as a way of avoiding tough practical issues.