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Playing with Your Mental Blocks

Don't fear the empty spaces - use them to unleash your genius through play

 

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July 31, 2017

My father-in-law is a now-retired machinist. In his career, he started out doing production work for a company but eventually started his own shop making specialty parts. He was (and still is) a a craftsman, an innovator, and an inspirational entrepreneur.

When working on a solution for a client, he would take time to sit and think about how he was going to approach it. To the outside observer, it seemed like he wasn’t working at all – perhaps he was just taking a break. But if you asked him, he would tell you that he was “playing with his mental blocks.”

My husband and I were recently at my father-in-law’s house, doing a bathroom renovation project. I found myself sitting in front of the plumbing assembly that would supply water to the shower; just sitting on my stool, gazing up at it. My husband asked me if I was ready to proceed with the shower install and I had to tell him to wait: “I need to play with my mental blocks first.”

Anyone who creates anything knows the power of taking a pause to consider your approach, to tune into your intuition about what needs to be done and how you’re going to get there.

I love the imagery of “playing with your mental blocks” for several reasons:

1) Play

It demonstrates the importance of play. Even the building of custom machined parts for farm equipment repair or fitting together pipes to feed a shower can and should be fun. The challenge of finding and then executing an elegant solution is a game-like challenge. Humans are problem solvers, and the delight of finding a solution that enables us to move forward has been driving us for millennia. So why is it so hard to remember that work isn’t meant to be serious and heavy all the time; that there is joy in the problem solving process?

2) Mental blocks as toys

I find the phrasing of this little statement so intriguing. Mental blocks are usually seen as bad things to be eliminated or at least avoided. Mental blocks are usually seen as the demon you have to face or the dragon you have to fight. But what if mental blocks were just toys? What if you could manipulate them — turn them around and upside down and shine new light on them to see them from new angles? What if our mental blocks held the key to our most powerful leaps of innovation?

3) An acknowledgment of the sacred pause as a necessary part of the creative process

That intoxicating hit of inspiration you get when you first conceive of a brilliant new idea fuels you to begin the creative process.  This is a good thing!  That wave of inspiration propels you over the wall of inertia and gets you moving.  So when that initial wave peters out or even starts to recede back at the undertow, the conscious mind rebels — “WAIT!!  I thought we were onto something!  I guess maybe this wasn’t a great idea after all… Maybe I should quit and do something else…”

What you’ve forgotten is that the wave needs to recede before the next surge can come.  The pause between the waves sets up the next wave.  That moment of quiet is your time and space to get your thoughts in order before the next round of DOING begins.

This is the gap that is represented by “playing with your mental blocks.”  It’s okay to sit and rest and consider!  It’s okay to brainstorm and manipulate the options to find better solutions.  It’s not only okay to plan your next course of action mid-project, it’s necessary.  It’s elemental to the process.

So the next time you find yourself needing to pull back and think, don’t panic.  Don’t get ready to throw in the towel.

Just spend some time playing with your mental blocks.

The answers will be there before you know it.

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GET READY TO GENERATE REVENUE WHILE BUILDING YOUR BIG IDEA

Feeling overwhelmed by the scope of your product ideas? Trying not to create in a vacuum but feeling sucked in anyway? Plan your product development cycles to build in flexibility and play while making moolah along the way with the Product Design Roadmap.

it's free!
100% Privacy Guaranteed.