Please look at this photo left or close your eyes and picture yourself sucking half a lemon. Notice what is happening in your mouth. Ah yes…our minds have just created juice (more evocative word than saliva). We stopped for a ‘what might be’ moment and made something happen.
These ‘what might be’ moments are called generative thinking – Linda Stone gives interesting examples of this here. It’s taking space for a moment to set aside the demands and duties of the present and project ahead. Analytical thinking, the mainstay of most business and professions, concerns itself with what is. And if the analysts are sufficiently resistant to considering ‘what might be’ and vocal enough… well, the idea generated won’t get a glimmer of green light.
So a mental lemon is a symbolic device to anchor our attention, used in all sorts of contexts. The rugby player Ronan o Gara has an amazing knack of calmly and coolly kicking drop goals when his team requires it. He will have a mental lemon of his own invention, based on replaying when he’s successfully kicked drop goals before and picturing a perfect replay. He’ll have coached his mind to capture this instance and put him in the zone.
Slate and Space
For many of us, whatever work we do, the struggle can be to find the space for idea-generating against the demands of the slate. The slate means activity to keep money coming in, to deal with admin, the ongoing housekeeping of any enterprise (social networking could be included here). We need the space for total immersion in whatever we want to improve.
The demands of the slate can be soul-sapping and overwhelming. Here are some suggestions to deal with them:
-put slate demands physically outside yourself as much as possible – put them on white boards, in your technology, in notebooks – anywhere that clears mindspace.
-use low energy times of the day/week for mindnumbing slate activities, including those meetings with Basil from accounts.
-remind yourself that in the great scheme of things, space is much more important than the slate. It is the idea that keeps us moving forward. Ask Ronan o Gara.
So stop. Pause. Breathe in and out slowly and in again. There : you have inspiration. Now come up with your own mental lemon – a quick and ready reminder of your creative juices, what they’ve achieved in the past and what they might do in the future.
It may be contrarian to talk about something sharp and focussed in a week which starts with the billowing sugariness of Valentine’s Day. To make up for this, I’d like to let you know that you and your attention are appreciated here. Loved up or not – I thank-you for your visits.
Coming Next: No idea what’s next, so lemon sucking like mad here this week…