Spring is in full bloom, which means it’s ‘get back in shape time!’ For me, that means strapping on the sneakers and going for a run (well, at this stage it’s more of a slow loping jog…).
I live in a city (Philadelphia) so I have to deal with traffic and crosswalks when I jog. A few days ago I was out for a run and I came to a red light. I jogged in place and looked for an opening in traffic so I could cross the street and continue my exercise.
After a few moments, all the cars had passed but one. This one was approaching the intersection with it’s turn signal blinking, meaning that it was going to turn before it reached me. In theory, I should have been able to safely cross the street.
I was about to go, but then I stopped. Something about the car didn’t feel right. Maybe it was the speed, maybe it was the position, or maybe it was just a gut feeling. Whatever it was, I decided to wait.
Sure enough, the car whizzed right past me while its turn signal flashed on and on. I may not have gotten squashed if I tried to cross, but there probably would have been a big scene with screeching tires and honking horns.
Once the car was past, I safely proceeded on my way.
So, what does this have to do with creativity, improv, business, and life?
I personally take two powerful lessons away from this experience:
1) Always look beneath the surface.
If I took what the car claimed it was going to do (turn before it got to me) I might have ended up in a body cast. I paid attention to details in addition to what it was explicitly telling me.
Similarly, when talking with someone, it is important to pay attention to more than just what comes out of the person’s mouth. Watch their body language. Listen to their tone of voice. Just because a person says one thing doesn’t mean that they really fully feel that way.
2) Get out of your own head.
People spend a great deal of time wrapped up in their own thoughts. I find pedestrians and drivers to be two of the guiltiest of this. If I had been lost in my own thoughts I may have just glanced at the car’s turn signal and started crossing. By putting my attention out on the world around me I was able to learn a whole lot more about the situation.
This idea is fundamental to both Creativity and Communication. Put your attention on things outside of you and your creativity will start to freely flow. Get out of your own head and your ability to listen and communicate effectively will grow exponentially.
All that just from crossing the street. Maybe I should jog more often…
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