Last weekend I needed to get a different view on things, so I climbed a mountain. Literally, I put on my boots and with a few enthusiastic members of my family, walked along a beach to the foot of Yacaaba Headland, the northern point of Port Stephens in NSW. It’s a strenuous walk, straight up over a rocky walking track, with a view from the top that is breathtaking. A complete 360 degree view of Port Stephens, the Myall Lakes, the Pacific Ocean and all the way out to the Barrington Tops National Park.
The ability to see things from a new perspective is one of many creativity traits. The gaining of new perspectives, fresh points of view and insight build creative muscle (not to mention, my body muscle from the walk).
Hiking up a mountain is a great metaphor for creativity. Often the path of creativity is a hard one; rugged, remote and challenging. Sometimes you have to stop to catch your breath, reflect on how far you have come, prepare yourself for how far you have to climb. You need to take time to enjoy the vantage points along the way and even give or receive encouragement from your team members (climbing with people is so much more fun and rewarding).
Once you get to the top, it is a deeply rewarding experience, this is when your creative spirit soars and knows no limits – it is breathtaking. It opens your eyes to the vast horizons of possibility. You see things in a completely different way, you see things you never thought of, you say WOW a lot and you fill your deep reserves of creativity for times when you really need it.
Creativity is a muscle. When you build your creativity muscle, it will make it stronger, and you create a muscle memory for creativity.
My experience of climbing a mountain for a different view now lives in my creative memory, it’s made my creativity stronger and fitter (so am I). It is locked away in my creativity DNA and will form part of my complete creativity when I’m generating new ideas or looking for creative ways to solve problems.
I am about to start work on a number of particularly challenging and creative projects. I took this above photo from the top of Yacaaba. It is a visual reminder that seeing things differently is breathtaking. Using this as a visual tool keeps me connected to the experience, it engages all my senses. I remember the tough climb, the smell of the sea, the heat of the day and the light breeze from the top, the people I was with, and how it felt when I reached the top. These connections anchor me to that different view and offer the opportunity to bring so much more of my flexed up creative muscle to the project because of it.
Give it a try yourself. Climb a mountain.