Today’s blog is written by Humanergy’s newest addition – Michelle VanderMeer, executive coach and leadership development facilitator extraordinaire!

In my family, we have a long standing tradition of lying on the ground, looking up at the sky and seeing what creatures our minds can conjure from the shapes of the clouds. Some of my earliest memories are of my dad and I in our back yard pointing out rabbits riding bicycles, trees growing upside down and soft inviting beds made of marshmallows. And oh… the stories that my mind was able to create from that quiet time of contemplation and those fantastic conjurings of my imagination!

I still believe that some of our best ideas come to us when we allow time for rest, recovery and creativity. The problem is that we seem to be too busy to stop long enough to think about the businesses we’re running, the issues for which we’re trying to find solutions and the relationships we’re working to enrich. So, here are some of my tricks for working moments of quiet and contemplation into a busy life:

  1. Drive with the radio off. I’m a well known podcast and audio book junkie. I am often cycling through a mix of business literature, coaching tips, fiction and music on my trusty iPhone linked into my car’s audio system. On a regular basis, I also make it a practice to turn everything off and just drive. It’s astounding how much more clearly you see the world when you actually look at it.
  2. Watch clouds with my daughter. What a way to get caught up on what’s happening in an 8 year old’s life! We lie on the warm pavement of the driveway and exchange ideas about what the skies are telling us.
  3. Sleep with a notepad next to my bed. Jot down the brilliant (or not so brilliant in the full light of day) ideas that hatch from your dreams in the middle of the night. Before I started this practice, I was often grabbing my iPhone to send a quick email message (yes – often at 3AM) to get a thought out of my head so that I could go back to sleep. Not only was this practice sending a bad signal to those that I worked with, it also made it hard to sleep after being exposed to artificial light and the irresistable stimulus of checking for just one more incoming message.

When I execute these practices on a regular basis, I think more clearly, sleep more deeply and am so much more creative.

“I have often wondered whether especially those days when we are forced to remain idle are not precisely the days spent in the most profound activity. Whether our actions themselves, even if they do not take place until later, are nothing more than the last reverberations of a vast movement that occurs within us during idle days.

In any case, it is very important to be idle with confidence, with devotion, possibly even with joy. The days when even our hands do not stir are so exceptionally quiet that it is hardly possible to raise them without hearing a whole lot.”  Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters on Life

Do you have any tricks that you use to force yourself to slow down? Do you find that it helps you to come up with more creative ideas? Comment below or send us a message.


Photo by Michelle VanderMeer.