I attended a hybrid convention in Cape Town in April and I chose to drive and not fly. I decided to do this for one very simple reason: to provide my brain with lots of new imagery to play with. Due to lockdown, our worlds have become smaller and more insular. We spend so much time on a screen or within the four walls of our offices that our image banks are depleted. For inspired creativity and problem-solving, our brains depend on rich visual imagery as much as they do skill. What are you doing to keep your well filled for optimum performance?
Isolation combined with insular thinking can lead to depression and narrow-mindedness. Broaden your experience of the world and pull yourself out of the blues by being constructive and proactive. My whole being is yearning for wide, open spaces. I’m listening and taking action. When you fly to your destination, although you save time, you miss all of the changing scenery along the way. Our eyes are like cameras; they capture images every millisecond that we are awake. Our brilliant brains then file them away for later use, whenever that may be. We need colour, texture, vistas, novelty and newness to excite our brains, fill our cups and keep us attentive. Travel is but one way in which to do this and I fed my mind with images for 1 200 kilometres or more!
Filling the Well, Stocking the Pond
Just after making the decision to drive to Cape Town instead of flying, I was re-reading The Artist’s Way. It is anoutstanding personal development book by Julia Cameron (a must-read for anyone, not just writers and artists). I came across these words that backed up my decision unequivocally (pages 20 and 21):
“In order to create, we draw from our inner well. This inner well, an artistic reservoir, is ideally like a well-stocked trout pond. We’ve got big fish, little fish, fat fish, skinny fish – an abundance of artistic fish to fry. As artists [we are all creators in some form or another], we must realise that we have to maintain this artistic ecosystem. If we don’t give some attention to upkeep, our well is apt to become depleted, stagnant, or blocked. Any extended period or piece of work draws heavily on our artistic well. Over-tapping the well [as we have all done during lockdown], like overfishing the pond, leaves us with diminished resources. We fish in vain for the images we require. As artists, we must learn to be self-nourishing. We must become alert enough to consciously replenish our creative resources as we draw on them – to restock the trout pond, so to speak. I call this process filling the well.”
Isn’t Cameron’s explanation a compelling one? Never forget that as a multisensory human being you need to feed your senses with what she calls the elements of magic: sight, sound, taste, smell and touch. We are aware of these necessities for our children but the global pandemic is bringing greater awareness to the fact that human beings of all ages need the same thing to remain fully awake and connected, both to themselves and their outer world. The seasons are good reasons for embracing the elements of magic.
In South Africa, we are now in autumn and the beautiful Cosmos flowers are in full bloom. Many friends are posting photographs of the walks through Delta Park, which is awash with tall Cosmos in pink, purple and white. For some, it is the first time they have ventured out of their own suburb since lockdown and this visual and multisensory experience has them all excited about life again. This is on my to-do list of multisensory inspiration. Amazing how the common Cosmos can be so inspiring! Who would have thought that this kind of multi-sensory experience could optimise your performance in your work team and your home team?
A recent and unusual visual adventure involved going on an art tour of the Leonardo Hotel – the tallest building in Sandton, Johannesburg. It is filled with a thousand pieces of original art created by local artists. What a colourful expression and celebration of so many things, from the beginning of time, to a walkthrough South Africa’s history. These bold statements range from paintings in a regular-sized frame inside a hotel room to grand three-storey installations. From fascinating Jacaranda roots to embroidery, wood carvings, a one-tonne metal sculpture and twisted wire in the shape of our DNA among many others. They are bold statements following a conceptual thread of the four elements of earth, wind, water and fire. With each piece, the artist had to connect to the work of Leonardo da Vinci himself in some way. It is impressive and worth a visit even if you, like me, are not an art officiando. Shooting up to the 54th floor and looking out over the Sandton metropolis was also a good exercise in shifting perspective.
Of course, movies and documentaries can be a great source of visual imagery and inspiration. Just this long weekend I watched the incredible movie, The Octopus Teacher, in which Craig Stone took us on a journey to the sea bed, exposing viewers to another world which most of us will never get to see. He pulled us into this quiet, hidden, underwater world that is full of natural treasures, complex processes and is an incredible display of the interconnectedness of all things. It was completely fascinating. In fact, I was transfixed, completely drawn in to his 365- day relationship with the octopus and all the drama and beauty in its short life. The imagery and viewing experience was so compelling that I can easily revisit the images in my mind.
My message: take off your blinkers and consciously feed your mind with new imagery. Your soul will feel lighter and very different too. We all need a lift every now and then. When last did you do something different or look at something different? When did you stock the pond and fill the well for optimum performance beyond attending a workshop, seminar or conference?
Takeaways for winning at work
- Your eyes and your brain are connected – provide your eyes with fresh and interesting images and you will be feeding your brain too
- Your problem-solving will be better if your brain has a rich bank of images to play with whatever kind of work you do
- It’s not just artists and writers who need exposure to rich imagery – enhance your own creativity in this way too
- Team activities can take on a different form today – break away from the norm and look for things that will stock the pond and fill the well in new ways
Takeaways for winning at home and life
- Become a tourist in your own town and take your family beyond the borders of your own suburb
- Both adults and children need multi-sensory stimulation – never forget that
- Look for colourful experiences to feed your soul
- Help your children experience the real world so that they can tell the difference between being in the online world and living in 3D