When to use this exercise
You can do this exercise on your own or with your team. It helps you hone the skills of observation and synthesis and to show the power of changing one’s perspective. Sometimes we get stuck on problems because we approach them with the wrong scale, we go after something that is way too big or something so small, which might feel pointless and make you lose motivation. You can use this activity to remind yourself to zoom in or out when you feel stuck. It can help you frame a challenge of appropriate size that you can actually act on.
This exercise is useful when you need a new perspective on something or when you need a boost of inspiration for something you are working on. The exercise helps you to use your environment as a source of inspiration.
- Put your comfy shoes on and head out for a stroll, take your notebook and pen with you and start walking in any direction. It is good to pick a direction which has some natural elements, grass, trees, flowers and so on.
- Then find a place to sit down and take out your notebook and pen. Take a couple of minutes to think of a project or challenge that you are working on that might need a creative boost, it can be an event you are working on, an upcoming difficult discussion, a work project or anything else. Don't worry about picking the right thing, it can be anything that has been on your mind lately. Take a look at your notebook at what you have written down, out of everything you jotted down, pick one challenge.
- Then get back up on your feet and start strolling again. To get inspiration from everyday life you are going to now focus on shifting perspectives. It is important to let you mind wonder, so don't focus on solving your challenge just yet. Be present in the moment. The challenge will be revisited at the end of this exercise.
- This exercise focuses on a shift of scale, so look around you and find a piece of nature where you are, something that is growing a leaf, a branch, a flower, a patch of grass or whatever you can see. Then walk up very close to it.
- Go even closer and try to look at the tiniest details of the piece of nature that you are looking at. Do you see any patterns, colours, textures? Observe as many details as possible and write these down in your notebook. Really take your time to identify as many things as possible.
- Next, step as far away from the piece of nature as possible, without losing it from your sight. Now you should be able to see a bigger picture. Observe the same object from this perspective and take your time to identify what you see. What is in the environment around it, are there any other objects surrounding it, or supporting it? Take your time to write down what you see from this zoomed out perspective.
- Now you have spent quite some time looking at one object from a zoomed in and zoomed out perspective. Take some time to write down what might have been different between the two perspectives. What did stick out? What might have inspired you?
- Now you will be challenged to connect these seemingly random activities with your challenge that you picked in the beginning. It might feel like the exercise has nothing to do with your challenge, but that is okay. Pick out two to three observations which stood out of what you wrote down during the exercise. Then you will use them as metaphors for your challenge.
- Try to connect these observations with your challenge. Really think about how these might correlate with each other. Take your time and write down what you come up with.
- At this stage, you have hopefully gained a new perspective on your challenge through the exercise. This exercise is one way to make you act, to help you get closer to your goal, rather than sit and wait for inspiration.