Originally published at American Small Business. 2009, I believe. Some links may be broken.
It’s waaaaaay too early in the morning and I’m sweating up a frenzy on the stairstepper.Â It’s all about the oxygen and seratonin.Â I’ve got a thing for it rightaboutnow.
Approaching sensory overload from the eight different plasma televisions in my field of vision here at Planet Fitness, I’m feeling a bit like Ozymandias.
Ozymandias, you say?Â As in the character depicted in the 190 year-old poem of the same name from Percy Bysshe Shelley (he of “look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair”)?
While that would be apt and applicable, I’m not in the mood to piss and moan about all that’s wrong in the world. Not today anyway.Â We’ll get back to solving all the world’s woes tomorrow.
The Ozymandias I’m tagging today is one of the superheroes from the Watchmen graphic novel (and imminent movie blockbuster), the brainiac who must retreat to his mission control-like lair stocked with a wall of TVs he uses to process the rhythm of the world intuitively in order to attempt to save it.
And it’s not that I have a superhero complex (although I do, like a lot of people, have Watchmen on the brain).Â And in re-reading the graphic novel this weekend (for the umpteenth time), I was struck by the powerful metaphor the character has to offer anyone in business, or the creative arts (or anyone looking for a neat parlor trick for that matter).
In Watchmen, the Ozymandias character feels the pulse of the universe and then lets intuition take over to parse out the answer to the day’s most difficult problems.Â It’s a powerful technique that one can use to “riff” on difficult problems, and it may just make you better at “The Six Degrees Of Kevin Bacon.”
See, if you want to get outside the box, really, the easiest way is to just relax and allow your right brain to tap into a well-spring of idea-flow.Â Six televisions tuned to different channels will nurture this mindset. I’m a big fan of coupling this with a sustained heart rate of 150+ bpm.Â Some people use drugs and alcohol for a similar effect (which may explain why so many writers are alcoholics).
The goal here is to abandon linear thought and just let your right brain take over.Â If you resist the urge to regress to the logical left brain, to linear thought, your brain can achieve this zen-like stasis and at some point you’ll have that aha moment…what some would call a moment of clarity…and it’s all the result of righty’s penchant for pattern recognition.Â It’s what Malcolm Gladwell wrote about in Blink.
And the really neat thing is that it will feel entirely accidental, but there’s nothing accidental about this technique.Â We have those lightbulb moments when we tap into the power of metaphor, what neuroscientists call symbolic thought, which is the most powerful type of thought.
What I call “scatterbrain synesthesia” is a powerful tool that anyone can use in the quest for creativity.Â You’re more likely to gravitate toward this technique if you prefer the intuitive spectrum of thinking. But even the more logical and methodical among us can get in the game.Â In fact, I believe they are especially good candidates to grow through this technique, because they are less inclined to go there inside of their natural preferences.
Wikipedia defines synesthesia as a neurologically based phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway.
The guardians of the world rarely engage in this style of “riffing.”Â But employing this strategy can yield powerful results in a myriad of ways.Â In the world of entrepreneurship, it works very well if you are looking to forge an innovation model in your industry (what we call “business topology” in the Wizard Of Ads vernacular).
And speaking of Wizard Of Ads, this is exactly what my business partner Roy H. Williams uses for such dramatic effect in the rabbit hole of his weekly Monday Morning Memo.
Bouncing from one idea to the next like a renegade pinball…letting the right brain go on a fishing expedition…eventually you’ll come to the intersection of the hoodoo and the mojo.Â That’s the plan anyway.
And sometimes it feels like a convoluted mess.Â A fool’s errand, seemingly.Â Diarrhea of the mind.Â Not unlike this blog-post, perhaps, which I am hopefully using to demonstrate the idea of which I speak.
And that’s the whole point.Â If you don’t make and take the time to give your right brain a serious, sweaty workout, then you’re really only using half of your brain.Â Or more accurately, you’re only using one of your two brains.
And if you’ll recall, it was sweat that got me on this path in the first place, way too early this morning.Â I’m going to see the Austin premiere of the Watchmen tomorrow night, which was another amino acid in this exercise in scatterbrain synesthesia…about scatterbrain synesthesia.
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