Today there is almost no need for us to step out of our comfort zones. Google, Amazon, FaceBook, LinkedIn, connected TV etc. have all allowed us to create our own ‘walled gardens’. All ensuring we have immediate access to only the things that are relevant and of interest to us.
And yet, as amazing as this era of digitally driven convenience is, in many ways it dulls the creative sensibility. What’s challenging us to think differently?
If we’re in the business of mass communication don’t we need to make an effort to hack ourselves? Break out of our comfort zones, get to know, be provoked and draw inspiration from the rest of the world?
As much a reminder to myself, rather than any guide for the reader; here are a few things that I’ve found to help knock down my own walled garden and be inspired by other people.
Nothing new here, ‘When the world zigs, zag.” is the BBH mantra after all.
But when was the last time you broke a habit? Took a different route to work, walked instead of taking the tube, went to a club that plays the music you hate? Watched a mainstream soap instead of something on BBC4?
Most of the world is doing something different to you – why not join them and see what you can learn?
Or like George Costanza, in Seinfeld why not try and live your life by doing the exact opposite to what your instincts tell you? Maybe try it for an hour or so and see where it takes you.
Whereas your parents told you to not talk to strangers, but maybe you’re old enough now to try the opposite! A creative mind is an inquisitive and curious one.
Talk to people: Knitting dinosaurs, making gruesome cakes, miniature gardens, beach-combing or entering cow mooing contests….
…there is nothing more satisfying than discovering the hidden passions and unique interests of someone, be they a friend, work colleague or stranger.
We are all champions of creativity in our own way (although unfortunately many do not realise this) and if we are to be inspired to create something new, then exploring the hidden creativity within others is a fantastic starting point.
Alternatively, why not play TED roulette and randomly choose a video and be inspired by something random. Although I don’t do it as often as I used to – Ted talks is an amazing way to (in their own words) ‘stir your curiosity’.
Go live in another country for a while. Although you’d expect to learn about different cultures and societies, what you’ll actually do is learn more about your own as you pick up on the everyday contrasts that occur.
Alternatively, when you go on holiday – visit the local market. All countries have them but they’re all wonderfully different in subtle ways to what we’re familiar with. The types of food, the way they’re arranged, the people that work there and the ways people interact and haggle with them.
Oh and don’t get a data roaming tariff. Keep your phone turned off, get lost and have an adventure.
Be someone else
Although it didn’t feel so enjoyable at the time, I’m forever grateful for having missed the conveyor belt into marketing/advertising that prevails so strongly these days. The time spent doing all sorts of odd jobs, from working on a factory line, carrying out home visits for the DSS, to selling contemporary masterpieces in an LA gallery have all shaped my views on the world and my approach to it.
Doing another job and being in a role different to your own or even working on the shop floor of one of your clients is an invaluable way of picking up new insights or nuggets that could eventually become great ideas.
So, why not hack our work lives? Job swap with someone else, volunteer somewhere or ask your client if you can work in part of their organization over the weekend?
As the cliché goes fortune favours those who are and whilst a lot of these things are easier said than done. All in all I believe its worth the effort, if it means we might be inspired to think, create and start something new and different.
So if you bump into me at a grime all-nighter, chatting to a group of crocheting pensioners or find me selling you a gelato from a van or randomly wondering around your neighborhood looking disorientated… You’ll know I’m going about practicing what I preach but more importantly do come say hello and tell me about yourself.