Spark Your Creativity With a Little Time-Travel

I took time off from “real” work yesterday evening, pulled out some tools I haven’t worked with in a long while, and totally changed the direction I was going with a project.

Copperplate practice hand

A few bottles of ink, some lovely old pens. Revisiting line and form and backing away from the computer. I back away a lot and I recommend you do it, too, but I don’t usually back all the way into the past!

While I worked I thought about the pen, the ink, the feel, (the difficulty), all the generations who worked this way and didn’t know any other; I thought of the hours I used to spend practicing and the projects I did; I thought about old manuscripts I’ve read, old quotations I love, movies and titles and hand-written signs. I fell back into the past and my mind wandered. Suddenly, I had an entirely different perspective on the project I’d been stuck on.

Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn't know you left open - John Barrymore

We don’t always leave the door open in our 9-to-5s. If you’re stressed and miserable, others will feel it. You can’t be as creative or productive as you should be without allowing happiness in.

Le papillon est une fleur qui vole; La fleur un papillon fixe - Econchard LeBrun

I used to do a lot of calligraphy, many years ago. My unsure hand makes it clear that it’s been too long! You don’t need to travel back to my past, or the past, to learn something old. No need for a new skill—try re-learning something from your own past. How could picking up an instrument, a tool (of any kind), or even a board game that you haven’t played with in a very long while spark new ideas for your business?


find the hambu

Don’t think you have to be perfect. Blow horrible notes on your trumpet. Draw terrible stick figures with piece of charcoal. Use a router to shape the edge of a length of scrap wood, just to remember the feel of the tool. Go to the ice rink—and fall down until your knees hurt and you’re still laughing. Or write letters too big to fit a word on a page. Eight times…

find the hamburger

… until you’ve found your direction. Learn something old every day. Renew your creativity. Then you can get serious about Maximum Customer Experience all over again.

What long-abandoned tools have you got lying in a box, waiting to be rediscovered? Make a little time to putter around, and re-connect your past and your present. It’s the weekend—get your kids in on it if you want. They’d love to learn something old from you.

When you’re back at the 9-to-5, those connections may just surprise you.

Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson

P.S. “Learn something old every day” is one of my favorite quotations, from the very wise and infinitely creative Fred Rogers. Thanks, Mr. Rogers.

P.P.S. Want to find your hamburger? You might need to give the cow away. Click here to read why.