VOL. 125 | NO. 233 | Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Light Their Fire
Following Einstein’s Inspiration
A couple of years ago I was browsing through the bookstore for new reference material and discovered a book called “The New Quotable Einstein.” Never having thought of Einstein as quotable, I was intrigued. Since I began flipping through the pages I’ve fallen in love with its contents.
One passage I particularly like describes Einstein’s reaction to a long-winded speech being given at a National Academy of Science dinner honoring him. To his tablemate he said: “I have just got a new theory of eternity.”
We all equate Einstein with creative thinking, but he also was a music aficionado. Once asked what he did to enhance his problem-solving skills, he answered that he played the violin. Music, he claimed, helped him whenever he hit a stumbling block in his work.
Every company needs creative thinkers: people who can look at problems or opportunities in a different way and come up with unusual solutions or wonderful new concepts. I’ve never found that staring at my computer monitor helped me generate an original thought. What does help is getting away from the situation and doing something unrelated. I might go to my friend’s art gallery and look at the wonderful colors and textures, eat a luscious GiGi’s cupcake or play a game of Uno with my husband. Petting the cat helps, too.
What opportunities do your employees have for expanding their horizons at work? Do they have the latitude to take a walk, read a book, listen to music or stare into space without having to explain themselves? Good ideas might germinate from the sales person visiting the manufacturing plant, or vice versa.
Participating in a community activity is another way to become inspired. One of my friends, a graphic designer, used to close her office for a half-day on Friday so she and her team could go clean up the area beside the railroad tracks near their office. I serve on the board of The MED Foundation, and working in that totally different arena gives me new perspectives.
To foster inspiration give people a chance to have a variety of experiences. And never underestimate the power of indulging in fantasy like Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland.” In it, he puts forth the value of believing in impossible things. The Queen tells Alice that she must believe impossible things. “Why sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
I’ll bet there are lots of impossible things that could happen in your company if someone merely believed in them.
Susan Drake is the president of Spellbinders Internal and External Marketing. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.