Run for ideas


One might think that ideas come easily for a creativity and innovation catalyst. But to be honest, sometimes it's hard for me too to look at a problem from a different angle, to find the good approach for an innovation challenge or to design the agenda of a productive and energetic brainstorm session. I bet you are also from now and then in need of some good inspiration. My advise: Go out for a run! It works.

All creatives go out One of the ten principles Austin Kleon puts forward in his book Steal like an artist  - for more creativity in this digital age is "be boring". One of the reasons he never brings his shirts to the dry cleaner is because he likes to iron them himself. It's so boring, that he often gets the best ideas while doing so. On the same level running is considered by a lot of people as boring, monotonous and little challenging. Many years ago I also felt this way about running. However by going out more frequently for a run I found out that I get the best ideas and fresh inspiration during these runs, and not behind my desk.

Richard Stomp calls it streetcombing. He argues that the best ideas are found out there and not behind your desk.

And of course we all know the Latin quotation "Mens sana in corpore sano" (a healthy mind in a healthy body). Or as Leonardo da Vinci used to call it "corporalita: the cultivation of grace, ambidexterity, fitness, and poise".

Why running works In the first place running is a perfect way to empty your mind, to let go all your innovation and creativity obstacles and to create mind-space for new ideas. It's like taking a white, blank sheet of paper and starting a new chapter.

Secondly going out for a run triggers your senses. • That same road you have driven 100 times with the car suddenly looks very different. You look at the world form a different perspective and you start wondering yourself why you didn't see all those small, and big, things before. And each element can initiate a creative process in your mind. In this way you train your observing skills, one of the core attitudes of a creative mind set. For instance, how would your company look like if you need to omit all bells and whistles, if you could only focus on the core of your business to survive in times of crisis? I was personally triggered by this question, just by looking at the trees: bare trees, no leafs, but at the same time showing their strength and grandeur with there bending branches.Personally I like to listen like up-tempo music. Not in the first place for the music itself, but to get me into a nice running pace. A pace to drives my body, but also my mind and that brings me into a certain kind of flow-ness.Running also let you (re)discovered one of the most forgotten senses, in one of the most intense ways: feel. It confronts yourself with your body. Breath after breath you feel the healing energy of inhaling fresh or cold or warm or wet air. it makes your aware how each step brings you further away from home, away from in the box.

Thirdly, running is a great way to disconnect you from the internet. From now and then it is helpful to shut down the computer, switch of your mobile devices and grant your brains some "www"-free time. After all, Google is not always able to answer all your questions or problems.

Manifesto for in-company running For all the reasons mentioned above, I advocate for a company run-culture, where employees can put on their running shoes and go out for a run during office hours. I am convinced that the ROI (after all we like to speak in business terms) for the people doing so and for the organisation itself is very high. A run-culture offers people the ability to escape from boring, useless and endless meetings, puts a stop on muddling behind your desk and opens the windows towards new ideas.

InspirationSara Pieters