Last week, I was out and about in the countryside- and as a city boy, I was using my phone as a sat nav, as I think we all do.
I had a destination, we got there, we enjoyed it.
Whilst there, my phone ran out of power, (as it seems to do ever more quickly every day), so on the way back I had no means of navigation, no way to find my way home.
But instead of waiting in the car park watching my percentage go up, I just drove, chose a direction and drove. I was lost, but all was not lost.
After 10 minutes we found a country pub, had no idea where it was, where we were, but we pulled up and got out.
It was an odd place, with settees and velvet chairs as outside furniture, a family with more poodles than children and an over attentive German landlord who kept checking we were ok. It was quirky, unusual and made all the better by it being unexpected.
We came away with experience that wasn’t on the agenda. We were hit with surprise and we left with stories.
It got me thinking about how good it is to get lost and in the 21st century, how hard it is.
In the search of good ideas, the power of getting lost can’t be underestimated.
Fresh stimulus, secret ingredients, the unexpected, all lead us to new recipes for creativity.
Technology is at our fingertips and its great. It has given us many tools for creativity and added digital thinking to our arsenal.
But with that, it’s taken away the random, our ability to look up and can easily put us on rails, all heading the same way,
When we are looking for inspiration we probably all go straight for Google. The same keywords searches bring us the same algorithmic replies. Then we’ll head for the usual sites that showcase new creative.
We’ll layout ideas with the neatness and realness of Photoshop, square our presentations in Keynote and Indesign without ever really straying off the track or our usual path.
When we walk, we walk led by our phones, eyes on our screens instead of the skies.
When choosing music to listen to, it's curated by whats happened before.
It delivers based on what you’ve already experienced.
We’ve lost the ability to get lost.
But it’s so important in the road to getting new ideas.
Fresh ideas come from neurons in your brain connecting in a way that they weren’t before, so the more random and unexpected things that you do, the more new connections you are making. New places, new experiences strengthen theses neural connections
The stronger those connections become, the easier it will be to come up with new, creative ideas. It’s science.
So, go see a film that wasn't reccomended, borrow a friends Spotify account to shake up the equations, close your eyes and pick a random book from the shelf. Throw away your digital maps and let the universe guide you once in a while and your brain will start connecting these new things in new ways.
From a physical point of view, when humans gets lost, we become more alert, our senses heightened, in survival mode. We are more present, more in the detail as we instinctively try to find our bearings and you are coming at things with a completely fresh perspective.
Thr great Paul Arden said "If you get stuck, draw with a different pen. Change your tools; it may free your thinking".
So I’m going to leave that phone at home more often, let my senses be the new tools and let them gather fresh ingredients to be stored in my imaginations larder.
The next time I’m struggling with inspiration, I’m going to look up.
Go left instead of right.
Because a wander could lead to wonder.