It is vital that people recharge their batteries from time to time. They should take a break from their everyday work and think of other things. The best ideas I have ever had occurred when my brain is relaxing, not when I am staring down at a computer screen or across a conference table. Good ideas are surprisingly elusive when I am trying to think of them.
For me, the answer is fishing.
Why fishing? Because it is entirely different to what I do every other day of the week.
I have a global consultancy company on Customer Experience. For those of you that haven’t had the pleasure, consulting is a lot of inside work. By inside, I mean the inside of a plane, the inside of a hotel room, the inside of a conference room or, for speaking engagements, inside a ballroom. It’s essentially an inside job.
Fishing isn’t inside. It’s outside. It’s on the sea, or in my case, the Gulf of Mexico. The only planes involved are the ones that soar overhead. I watch them go by whilst I rock in a boat on the gentle waves of the aquamarine waters below, breathing in the smell of salt and air under the warmth of the Florida sun.
It’s not all different, though. Consulting requires strategy. I look athow the organization is today with how they work with Customers, and then I use strategy and tools I have developed over the past decade to figure out how to move them to the next level of their Customer Experience.
With fishing, there is a strategy, too, albeit of a different sort. You think about how to catch the fish. There are so many variables that affect it. As I mentioned, I do most of my fishing in Florida, off the coast of Sarasota in the Gulf waters, so fishing requires an understanding of where the water is today, meaning one must consider the tide, weather, and season. Plus, you must choose the right tools to use, meaning the size of the line, the size of hook, the type of bait, etc. Each of these elements has an effect on what you catch, if anything. In this respect, fishing is much like consulting an organization on Customer Experience.
There’s a famous fisherman saying: This is called fishing, not catching! Sometimes you go out and despite all of your preparation, all of your knowledge, you still don’t catch anything. That’s fine with me because it is not for the catching of the fish that I go fishing. It’s the whole experience of being out on the boat, being on the Gulf that I love. Watching dolphins play about, seeing manatees, and being with nature. In fact, I throw all my fish back into the water, hopefully to catch another day as I am keen on conservation.
No, the fish I am out to catch is inspiration. Fishing helps my business thinking. During these times of solitude, I can reflect on life, the universe, and everything. I have enjoyed inspiration on a number of fronts here, new ideas and directions for my company, my books, and the field of Customer Experience itself. Without a hobby like fishing, I wouldn’t have achieved as much as I have in any of these areas.
I don’t always have to be fishing to get good ideas. I get many excellent ideas whilst having a shower! I credit this to the fact I am not focused on work there. I’m not disturbed by email, social media, the team at Beyond Philosophy or anything else. For those moments, I’m solely within my mind. Inspiration strikes somewhere in the lather-rinse-repeat cycle.
People who are proud of the fact they haven’t been on a vacation for a number of years (in some form) are misguided about how this is an accomplishment. To my mind, they would be far more productive if they had a hobby or went on vacation. But to each his own. Maybe they should take a shower, at least to generate ideas.
I am quite good at spotting dolphins. I have thought about creating “Colin Shaw Dolphin Tours!” Maybe this is something I do my retirement… Okay, so maybe not. Not all my ideas are good ones, but someone wise once told me ‘if your good ideas, outweigh your bad ideas, then you will succeed’. To be fair, I am not fishing right now either, so maybe that isn’t the best idea I have ever had…
What do you do to relieve stress?
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Colin Shaw is the founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s leading Customer experience consultancy & training organizations. Colin is an international author of five bestselling books and an engaging keynote speaker.
Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter & Periscope @ColinShaw_CX