People change jobs. They change spouses. They change where they live or what they drive. But people rarely change themselves.
I think perhaps we are all too absorbed in the routine of our day-to-day lives. I know I can often be. We think about what is directly in front of us without consideration for what might be coming. And we spend far too much time absorbed in our own perspective on whatever the issue is of the day. Our own analytical views.
It turns out that when thinking analytically about something, we tend to have a herd mentality. We think about things like most others think about things. A standard way of operating. And this outlook can be comfortable. The path of predictability and familiarity is one that is constantly worn. So much so that the path becomes clear. Because after so much traffic, just like a trail in the wilderness, a path begins to emerge that takes us through our predictable routine.
Routine is so ingrained in the human experience that we tend to do things the same way at the same time each day. While routine has some benefits, often breaking that routine can bring unexpected creative wealth.
Now, I have a strange example, but go with me on this if you will: Next time you are in the shower, stop for a minute to observe your routine. I bet you apply soap the same way each time. Start with the left arm and then to the right. Shampoo your hair in the same way. Start at the front of the scalp and work your way back. Or whatever it is that you do. It’s your routine. And you do it the same way each time.
The thing is, we tend to stick to routines so much that we lose opportunities to think creatively.
While routine is the construct of the analytical, breaking it is the construct of The Creator Mindset. Because far too often we get stuck in certain channels of thought. Much like how water that carves through a canyon year after year defines erosion, so is your mind eroded by thinking the same way over and over again. It simply isn’t challenging. It simply isn’t brave. It is just not the type of thinking that will ever spark creativity.
And so we get stuck on why things are not the way we want them to be. And one thing we can try is to break the routine. We want things like more profitability, expansion, or better quality and meaning of our work, and thinking about eliminating the routines that you auto-pilot through are a worthwhile endeavor. Because not only should you challenge the assumptions of your own personal routines – like how your shower or order the same thing each time at the coffee shop – you should also look at the assumptions you are making at work. The shortcuts on your path are often long cuts in disguise.
Years ago, I worked in Hollywood. It seems like a different life ago. But I remember one key thing. I worked with actors quite a bit as a director. We worked on particular scenes within a movie or show, and I discovered that actors are like all of us. They are not immune from their routine as well. They are not different from all of us. They have their toolkit prepared and ready to go, full of shortcuts for getting the job done. And some of these actors were household names! People who were famous for their acting abilities! But no matter, they too had their own routines as well. And these routines led to the same old, same old predictability that you and I get stuck in, too, both in our work and at home.
Most people change lots of things but don’t take the time to change themselves. It’s easy to change something superficial, but if we are not changing how we approach routine, then we can never reach that state of creativity that will allow us profound solutions.
Nir Bashan is an executive creative director/managing director with over 19 years of advertising, entertainment, and business development experience. He helps teach folks in non-creative fields how to think creatively to solve problems. He leads workshops and lectures on topics relating to The Creator Mindset. McGraw/Hill is publishing a book on The Creator Mindset that will be released in 2020. http://www.nirbashan.com/.