Planning Ahead for Creative Time

Planning Ahead for Creative Time

By Paul Barrs

There are many different what might be called ‘key elements’ when it comes to running a small business; and the only reason we need to be aware of them is because unlike the corporate world where teams of people sit around working on the various tasks that need completion, in a small business, most often, *we* need do it all (at least when we’re starting out).

One of those ‘key’ elements is what I call “creative time”. It’s that time in our business were we set our minds on new projects, new ideas and new problems. Without doubt it is one of THE MOST IMPORTANT times in a business, for without it, nothing new should ever come about.

When you get right down to it, once your business is founded, there are really only two things that you should be doing; they are (1) Creating new product, and (2) Marketing it. Yep, that’s it. Think of something new to sell and then go and sell it. Of the two, the writing of this article is part of ‘Marketing’, isn’t it.

But today we deal with ‘creation of the new’.

I have a favourite Bible verse which says that we are to “be still” in order to know God. It’s kinda like something Yoda would say ‘you must let go in order to take hold’. But using it to set our ‘being creative’ guiding principle, it *is* important that we ‘let go’ of the troubles that surround us… we must, in essence… “Be Still”.

The question is however, when… where… and how?

Me? My ‘stillness’ time is while I’m either running or swimming. Yes, I know, that’s hardly “being still” is it. However, I’m not talking about physical stillness but rather mental stillness. THAT’S the KEY.

I’ve been a swimmer most of my life. I’ve always loved the meditative experience of the unmovable ‘black line’ that sits at the bottom of the pool. You breathe in for four, out for four… watch the black line. Do that for a mile or so and you’ve got an amazing opportunity to let your mind wander and start being creative.

Recently though I had to give it up when I moved inland and there were no pools nearby, that’s when I took up running. But don’t get me wrong (and I just have to put this in), I *am not* some kind of fitness expert, nor am I probably that much good at running or swimming when compared to others – no matter, I don’t do it for them, I do it for me. And while it’s taken me a couple of years to get to the point where I can now run ‘for fun’ so to speak and not collapse (literally), I am now starting to see the benefits of the peacefulness that can be found pounding the pavement.

ball and chainIt was just yesterday that this article came to me. I was about a quarter of my way into my ‘run’ when I started hitting the wall.

* I realised that it’s just the same while building a business; we may know what we’re doing, but as problems still come, we face many ‘walls’ along the way.

As I was running yesterday I came across a physical wall across my path (the path had been blocked for some private access concert). Looking around I saw that they had provided an alternate route, but it started with 50 stairs straight up, and they weren’t small stairs either, these were real hum-dingers.

* However, being full of energy at this time I began up the stairs with gusto… and isn’t that just like what we do in our business sometimes? We go at some new project, we get real excited by it, we ‘hit an obstacle’ and … well, let’s just say that I wasn’t running top pace by the time that I got to the top of those stairs! And too many of us quit when we hit difficult times in our businesses.

But I continued, I was exhausted, but I continued.

* This is *my* attitude in my business. It’s like being a bull-dog, once I grab hold of it I hang on for all it’s worth.

[Sidebar: A warning though – this Bull-dog attitude it not necessarily a good one. It was only 8 months ago that after an exercise session I ended up being carted off to hospital in an ambulance. Sometimes we *need* to know when to quit.]

And now I was half way through my run. I was hurting by this time, but in order to keep motivated I told myself that ‘I’d done it before, I could do it again’. It was another mile and a half before my ‘second wind’ kicked in.

* Sometimes in our business we can go for weeks, months even feeling as though we’re getting no-where. But just like while running, if we pace ourselves, rely on our training and the skills we’ve learnt along the way, the results we want will come.

These things are true in business, just as they are true in life. Time here does not allow me to list all the superlatives that came to me during that run yesterday, though I shall write more about them in coming days; however, I want to finish with this one.

When I came to the end of my run I was completely exhausted. I’d run this course before and at different times had finished with still energy left to burn – but not this time. My lungs were burning, my legs were like jelly. But still I made it.

When I looked at my watch it had taken me 5 minutes longer to run the course this day than previous days.

* Each time we start a new project / product / coaching program in our businesses the end results will be different. Success is not so much measured in what we found along the way, but whether we found ourselves at the ‘end of the way’ once done.

We don’t always get the results we want. But whatever the results we get, we can use them to add value to our next effort.

All this and more… from just one run.

Setting aside time to give our minds a ‘break’, time to allow our minds to ‘be still’ is one of the most important things we can do to help build a prosperous business. When I run, I do it for two reasons –

(1) I need it to keep my mind fit and healthy. I am someone who has in the past suffered chronic depression; a complete loss of rational thinking and joy in life. During this time it wasn’t my physical condition that caused me the greatest concern, it was my mental, and so I run to keep my mind fit and healthy.

(2) Secondly, yes, I do it for physical well-being. The first time I tried running I made it only 500 meters and nearly collapsed. Now, I am fitter, stronger and healthier than I’ve been in 15 years.

For me, I get a double benefit. What so then for you? I know that running isn’t for everyone, so what can you do? In years past I used to take half an hour out to sit by the fish tank. Other times I’ve gone bush to walk among the mountains. Others again I’ve just sat in a quiet room listening to Bach.

I met a man once who spent half an hour each morning looking out at the Swiss Alps asking himself the same question, day in and day out, “How does God run the world?” He thought that if he could somehow gain even a glimpse of such, then he could further run his own business and build a better dream.

What so for you then? What could be *your* creative time? How can you build a better dream?