How many times have you puzzled over something while staring at the computer, only to gain insight while on a run or in the shower? Do you know the #1 thing I’ve found that builds creativity?
TAKING A BREAK FROM MY WORK.
It seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it. But I like to remind my clients of the story of how Archimedes, the Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer born in 287 BC, solved a scientific puzzle he’d been given – and developed a theory of volume in the process.
Archimedes: the Original Puzzled Technologist
200+ years before Christ, the Syracusan king Hieron II, had given his royal metalsmith a specific weight of gold to be fashioned into a splendid wreathlike crown. But the king had a management problem many of us have faced: he suspected that his metalsmith had been pilfering from the royal coffers. The completed crown, destined to adorn the statue of a deity, seemed to have been cut with less valuable silver, and he suspected the smith had pocketed the unused gold. Hieron tasked Archimedes with establishing the crown’s makeup without sampling or defacing it in any way.
Archimedes knew that gold is more dense than silver. So if a certain weight of silver had been substituted for the same weight of gold, the crown would occupy a larger space than an identical one of pure gold. But how could he measure the volume of the irregular crown?
As the story goes, he was puzzling over this day and night. He was so immersed in his work that he began to skip meals, sleep and personal hygiene (sound familiar?!? I’ve been there!). It got to the point where his wife worried for his health.
“Go take a bath,” she told him.
Begrudgingly, the young scientist took her advice and walked over to the public baths (all the rage at the time). While in the overfilled bath, Archimedes began to relax, and forgot about his work. That’s when he’s fabled to have realized: the more his body sank into the water, the more water sloshed over the top of the bath!
Even though he was irregularly shaped, the displaced water was an exact measure of his volume! Realizing he had hit upon a solution, the young Greek math whiz is fabled to have leapt out of the bath, rushing home naked crying “Eureka! Eureka!”
I know as a Marketing Technologist, I personally have had so many Archimedes moments. I’ve had complete writer’s block, or the inability to put myself in my customer’s shoes. Frustrated, I’ll get to a yoga class, sit outside, crack a beer (or all three) – and like magic, the answer comes.
- Sometimes, leaning into the grind is what I personally need to do to be more productive.
- But other times, inviting more play into my life leads to flashes of insight.
I’ve come to believe that during these moments of stepping away from my computer, I’m actually allowing my brain to function.
Being playful and playing as an adult is so much fun, but it’s pretty obvious to me that I’ve been trained out of it. I’ve learned to be more serious, to put work ahead of everything else. But what does this ultimately “cost” me?
- We have learned to give up play because we think playing is for children and frivolous people who aren’t serious about getting ahead.
Well, guess what: play is for everyone, even adults and “serious people.“ The more you practice playfulness, the more your creativity will flow.
Play helps me do these key things:
- Reduce my resistance to new things
- Feel better / more relaxed
- Access more creativity
- Become more resourceful
- Become more successful
- Have more fun
- Become more fun to be around!
But There is So Much to Do
The Law of Attraction reminds us that we will receive more of what we are putting out into the world. If you start each day feeling optimistic, joyful, appreciative and grateful, abundance is sure to follow. I am living proof: when I put out a clear signal that there is time to play and I know play is good for me, I receive back so much in return!
1. Practice Playfulness & Excellent Self-Care. What’s the point of all of our plans: getting in shape, making more money, or having our own businesses if we’re not enjoying ourselves? A lot of people put the ladder against the wrong building. Their goals and daily practices are not aligned with their life’s purpose, so when they achieve their goals, the cost is their health or their relationships. According to Brendan Burchard, author of “High Performance Habits”, high performers value their own well-being more than any other demographic measured.
“I expected that these folks would be more stressed, their health would be more compromised, they would feel lonely at the top,” Burchard says. “I was wrong.”
Compared to their peers, high performers:
- Are less stressed
- Are healthier
- Are 40% more likely to exercise 3-5x per week
- Report higher levels of happiness
- Report having more positive relationships
So if one of your goals is to play more, have more fun or take better care of yourself, that’s okay – and you are probably in great company.