I got up the next morning for my daily jog and walked out to the golf course. I like to run on golf courses because they’re beautifully landscaped and you can cover a lot of distance in a relatively small space. That’s because the golf cart trails snake through the course, up and down, back and forth, and it’s often more interesting than running on a stick straight road. (Note to all you golfers who read my blog: I run on the trails, not the course. No need to send me e-mails reminding me to stay off the turf!)
I run because I like to stay in shape but more importantly I run because running gives me the perfect opportunity to let my mind wander and think. I’ve had some of my best ideas pop into my head on my morning jogs – just three weeks ago I rewrote the intro and close of a new business presentation when I went running the morning of the pitch (we won it that afternoon!). Last week while running in Central Park I changed a presentation I was giving to the National Speakers Association the next day.
I guess this happens because running has something of a meditative affect on me. Sometimes I’m concentrating on my pace (slow) or my breathing (labored), sometimes I’m watching the surroundings and sometimes I’m listening to my iPod. But most of the time my mind is just wandering.
But I’m digressing. One of the great things about running on a golf course’s limited space is that you often run back the same way you came but in the opposite direction. And it never fails to amaze me that when I run over ground I’ve covered before I see things I didn’t notice the first time. This morning I oohed and aahed in amazement as I ran through a stand of twenty-foot tall bamboo that I completely missed on the way out.
Each time I do that, seeing the same old thing in a whole new way it reminds me of how to look at creative questions. Sometimes the only problem is that we look at things the same way instead of attacking them from a different point of view. And as soon as we look at them differently we come up with all kinds of new solutions.
Try it yourself. Tomorrow morning take a different course to work instead of the same route you travel every day. Read a different newspaper, eat lunch at a different restaurant. Maybe you too will find the solution to something that’s vexing you just by shaking up your routine.