Monday, July 30, 2012

Making Yourself Uncomfortable ... On Purpose?

Fast Company has published an article by Gina Sclafani, Creative Director at Grey New York (an advertising, public relations, and branding agency).  Sclafani describes a policy implemented by her boss, Tor Myhren, at the New York office.  Myhren declared Thursday mornings the "No-Meeting Zone."    Workers should use this time to think creatively, expand their minds, and work on new ideas that are not getting enough attention because of the day-to-day work.  

Sclafani decided to use this time to "learn about something I am not interested in."  She thought that going outside of her comfort zone would enable her to "find meaning and create connections."  She also thought it would be lots of fun.    She learned that moving outside of her comfort zone was not fun at all... in fact, it was painful at times.  As she wrote, "I’m no neurologist but I am now certain that the synapses in your brain like the familiar path. It’s fast and easy. Diverting hurts."  

She also found it rewarding though.  Sclafani discovered that it did help expand her mind and make new connections.  It took some persistence though.  Sometimes it was not fun.  On other occasions, she was too busy to actually devote the three hours on Thursday morning to working on something truly novel and outside of her day-to-day work.   We might all try to follow her example though.  Could we devote a few hours each week (even each month) to going outside our comfort zone, learning or exploring something new?  Could it help us make a creative breakthrough? 

1 comment:

David Crimmin said...

I think this is a fascinating idea. I would be interested in examples of the activities that get one outside "their zone." It reminds me of a period I went through where each year I purchased a subscription to a magazine I would not ordinarily read: The Utne Reader, Rolling Stone, Mother Jones, Soldier of Fortune, The Nation, etc. The only drawback is that you can end up on some unappealing mailing lists.