In every professional’s journey, there are periods of intense creativity, inspiration, and an overflowing influx of ideas. Sometimes these are a byproduct of looming deadlines or potential shifts in the career landscape. Others might be rooted in the simple act of scribbling down thoughts on a Moleskine. This phenomenon, referred to by some as “percolation”, is the act of allowing yourself time and space to think without the pressure of performance.
- What is Percolation?
It’s the process of reflection, exploration, and generation of ideas. While our professional journeys often emphasize productivity and efficiency, percolation serves as a reminder that there is an expansive world of possibilities beyond what we already know.
Percolation in Practice: The Steinbeck Method
In the early 1950s, renowned author John Steinbeck, a Pulitzer Prize winner, was hard at work on his next novel. His daily routine involved aiming to produce a thousand words. However, before diving into his narrative, he engaged in an unconventional ritual. Each day, he wrote a slow-paced, often meandering letter to his editor. These letters, filled with what may seem like mundane details such as updates about his children or complaints about dwindling pencil supplies, paved the way for Steinbeck to smoothly transition to his main work. After the letter, he would effortlessly meet his writing target for the day. His masterpiece, “East of Eden”, stands testament to the effectiveness of this percolative approach.
- Why did this method work?
This act of percolation acted like a warm-up. It uncorked the bottle of creativity, allowing the ideas to flow freely. Steinbeck’s method resonates with the principles of the morning pages as advocated by Julia Cameron in “The Artist’s Way”. The premise is simple: Write freely every morning, laying down your fears, dreams, and thoughts. This process, akin to “popping the cork”, sets the stage for significant work.
The Broader Impact of Percolation
This creative practice is not confined to the literary world. Iconic personalities like Paul McCartney have found inspiration in leisurely activities such as car conversations. Acclaimed choreographer Twyla Tharp refers to her creative method as “scratching”, emphasizing the value of combing through everything to discover something of significance.
- Why is Percolation Vital?
Corporate America is currently undergoing significant shifts. With renowned companies like Kellogg’s, General Motors, and Bank of America opening doors to applicants without traditional four-year diplomas, the value of raw talent and skills is slowly overtaking rigid educational qualifications. Percolation, in this context, can be seen as an essential tool in fostering creativity and innovation in a rapidly evolving workplace.
Embracing Percolation in Your Daily Routine
For those feeling trapped in the monotonous cycle of to-do lists and productivity metrics, introducing percolation into your routine can be transformative. Here are some methods to rekindle that explorative mindset:
Sneak it in as a Warm-up: Before diving into your primary task, engage in an activity that gets your thoughts flowing freely, like writing a letter or journaling.
Engage in ‘Scratching’: Just as Tharp suggests, delve deep, explore various avenues, and trust your unconscious mind to lead you to innovative ideas.
Regular Reflection: Carve out time in your schedule for reflection and open-ended thinking. Embrace the unknown, explore new avenues, and let your creativity take flight.
In conclusion, as the workplace landscape evolves, embracing the art of percolation could be the key to staying ahead, fostering innovation, and continuously generating new ideas. To delve deeper into this concept and how companies are adapting to the changing hiring dynamics, check out the insightful piece by Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza on Quartz.