Drawing, or ‘doodling’ as Sunni Brown describes, is a crucial tool to help solve complicated business problems, thinking creatively, and aid recall.
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Before heading into the studio to attempt any ‘serious’ art work, I often need to warm up by drawing something in my sketchbook.
These little drawings are typically unrelated to any project at hand. Working at home, I tend to draw the nearest dog. I find this exercise to be an amazing warm up to thinking clearly. It’s like meditation, only without so much tedium. But what if you work in a more traditional office environment? This exercise can still be a valuable one, provided you have on hand some simple drawing tools and ‘objects de art’ that you find interesting. These can take the form of found items from nature, or an interesting coffee mug or pen that you like the look of. It can really be anything.
Place your chosen object on your desk, not too far from view and open your sketchbook. Now spend a few minutes looking at the object. Pick it up and find your favorite angle of it. Can you identify simple shapes in the object that might simplify it at first glance, such as circles, triangles, rectangles, etc? Now, without too much thought, pick up a pen or pencil and without looking too closely at your paper and keeping your eye mostly on the object, begin making a line drawing that traces these broad shapes. Try to get a basic outline and then continue to fill in where one shape moves to another.
This may feel (and look) ridiculous at first, but it is truly the first step in learning to draw. You can practice this simple exercise in about 5 minutes, with the same object, each day, and see how it progresses. You will see progress in what your drawings look like. But beyond that, you will notice a little something about how you feel as you make these little drawings. You might find that your mind gets into a different groove and that you are thinking differently. A little less restless. You may even find that sometimes great ideas pop into your head as you draw. Even a simple drawing exercise such as this one can get your mind working in a new way. Practicing this can be a valuable tool in pushing the boundaries of your normal day to day modus operandi.
Find an object that you find interesting and give sketching it out a try. Then try it again the following day. Let us know how it goes.
Here are a couple more fossils of mine to inspire….
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A recent article on Steven Johnson’s new book ‘Where Good Ideas Come From‘ offers support for our practice of ‘paying attention to what you pay attention to,’ something which can only be achieved through journaling.
Steven debunks the myth that ‘Ideas just pop into people’s heads.’ Contradictory to the examples of how an apple hit Newton’s head and lighting struck Benjamin Franklin’s kite, ideas do not arrive in one fell swoop of glory isolated from the rest of our work. There is no muse.
But some may argue… ‘I definitely had the idea ‘click.’ Yes, there is a certain moment when we become aware of ideas… but they have been in our mind in some hidden form all along. I can often find precursors of thoughts posted in my journal 3, 6, 9 months before I realize what they really meant. After building enough of a critical mass in one specific subject or problem, the solutions begins to take shape and you can see all the other pieces merging into the final outcome.
Ideas are woven combinations of all the people, places, and things we encounter and work with, slowly burgeoning until we become aware of them.
So go ahead and pay attention to what you pay attention to. Spend a few minutes each day for the next few weeks journaling and drawing… and see what happens when you look back at it all. If you already journal, share back any interesting events you’ve had in being retrospective.
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They advocate mulling over an idea much longer than is traditionally expected… and only acting on it when you have fully thought it through. This exactly aligns with how we leverage the journal in Drawing Down the Vision.
A journal is your catalog of your ideas. This historical record allows you to see how an idea evolved and merged with others. If you see the same blockbuster idea popping up over 6-12 months… you may want to revisit it in a more critical manner. See our Practice posts for practical guides on how to do that.
“How many times have you heard someone say, “You just need to get started”?
I’ve even said it myself — that the hardest part of nearly anything meaningful (health & fitness, managing your money, etc) is getting started.
But Cal Newport, a published author and PhD in computer science at MIT, disagrees.
Cal will show you why it’s important to look beyond quick tactical wins and instead focus on the strength of your idea, which takes painstaking practice and ongoing iteration.”
Ramit Sethi via IWillTeachYouToBeRich
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