Yes, it has taken a long to get this second post out on the awesome “secret” benefits of running. I really enjoyed my last post, Running Is Spiritual. It is a topic that is close to my heart. However, it made me sound like I am super spiritual, but I’m not. To be honest it is really hard for me to focus on the spiritual while I am running. Just this morning I had a very difficult time meditating/praying on my run. Seriously, I can’t pray/meditate the whole time I run. It just doesn’t work. So this post is about what I do when I am not “spiritual” on my runs. Today we talk about one of my other favorite topics; creativity!
Yep, you guessed it… Running Is Creative.
Depending on my mood when I go out running, (e.g. reflective, excited, perplexed, sad, happy), my mind will either be super focused or all over the place. I don’t try to fight the mood my mind is in. If I am focused on a problem, I stay on it until I feel I can’t make anymore headway. If my mind is like a 3 year old on sugar, I let it run from idea to idea. When it is in ADD mode I just try to direct it to profitable and effective thoughts. Either way, I have found that while running or even right after running my mind comes up with tons of ideas! This burst of creativity has led to solutions to problems, relational realization, personal realizations, business ideas, videos, websites, and even this very blog post!
Last night I went to The Trail Running Film Fest. It was awesome! A whole evening of films on trail running, meeting new friends, and beer! Needless to say my mind was on fire today during my run. I kept coming up with ideas to promote Chasing 100, new storylines for the film to travel on, and more!
Rules For Fostering Creative Thought
- There Are No Bad Ideas
- Quantity Over Quality
- You Can Never Dream Big Enough
- Be Practical
There Are No Bad Ideas
I learned this idea while working in groups with other creatives. In a typical meeting, if someone comes up with a bad idea we usually shoot it down pretty quickly. However, this creates a two fold problem, 1. we don’t know when a bad idea will lead to a good one (kind of like running on trails), 2. being critical can shut some people down and keep them from sharing. Creativity is a group process. Ideas grow, change, and evolve as people hear them and add to them. We need everyone and their ideas involved in the creative conversation. Treating all ideas as equal in the beginning of a brainstorming session is key to fostering a creative community. Even though I run and brainstorm by myself, I have fund that the most critical person of my ideas is me! So, I have given myself the freedom to have all kinds of ideas without being critical of them. Ironically, not trying to come up with good ideas has led me to great ideas! Do yourself a favor and realize that there are no bad ideas.
Quantity Over Quality
This may sound like the previous rule but it is, in fact, different. When I run, I start off by walking a mile. Why? To warm up my muscles. When I start out, I have aches, pains, and stiffness all through my legs. However, after a mile of walking blood starts to fill up my muscles with oxygen, they relax, and almost all of the soreness and stiffness goes away! Warm ups are amazing for having great runs and reducing injury. In the same way, our minds are creative muscles. They are full of intellectual soreness and stiffness (e.g. stress, random thoughts like “did I close the garage”, etc.). Trying to come up with a great world changing idea without warming up the mind is almost impossible. So, at the beginning of a brainstorming session we have to remember that there are no bad ideas so that we can free ourselves to have quantity over quality. This warm up will get your mental wheels spinning and fully engaged.
You Can Never Dream Big Enough
Brain storming isn’t thinking about what can be done. It is thinking about what hasn’t been done. If Roger Bannister only set his mind on goals that had been achieved he would have never shown the world that humans can run a sub 4 minute mile! Creativity is about dreaming big. It is envisioning the most amazing thing that could happen and then believing that it is possible. You seriously can’t dream big enough! The problem isn’t that we dream to big, it is that we dream too small. Nothing is off limits in our mind. No seriously, nothing is impossible. Our imagination is amazing! I can dream of flying in the air, living in outer space, meeting Steve Jobs, having super human strength. The possibilities of imagination are endless. This may sound childish but if you think about it, every building, product, company, or anything created at one point only existed in the mind of an individual. That thought is mind blowing. We as humans have the ability to take something that only exists in our imagination and then make it a reality. Chew on that one for a while… Our mind is powerful.
Dreamers and creatives have always been criticized for not being practical enough. There is some truth in that statement. An idea will only be an idea unless it is acted upon. A thought can’t change the world but the action that flows from that thought can. We have to take the big dreams in our minds and use our hands and words to bring them into reality. Being practical isn’t needed while dreaming big. That will stifle creativity. Practicality comes into play when filtering out ideas and mapping out the actions to bring that idea to life. When I dream, I dream big. However, when I am done, I look for the best idea and figure out what needs to happen in order to make it reality. Looking at the big picture is great and completely necessary for casting vision, but it can be too overwhelming at times. That is why I try to figure out what the first action step is and then do it. Most of the time, the first action step is really easy like an email, phone call, or conversation with a key person. Though action is the hard part in the dreaming process because it takes hard work, it is also the most exciting part. It is here that the adventure happens! Here we become a creator, a mad scientist, Dr. Frankenstein, an artist. It is here that we bring life to a once lifeless idea.
So to recap, No bad ideas, come up with as many ideas as you can, dream big, then get practical and do the first thing that will bring this idea to life.
If you have any other thoughts on creativity or creativity while running post them in the comments!