What if you allowed boredom to take you a little deeper?
In this day of excitement, we love change. Because it's easy to change. Whether jobs or phones or clothes. We want a constant stimulus. This and that. Here and there.
But what if we really did nothing more. And we stayed bored.
What if we go through that phase of boredom? And not do anything about it.
Would you go deeper?
May be when you go deeper, you might discover all kinds of things. Like that time when I left my colleagues with an apple and nothing else.
A little weird exercise: you + blindfold + an apple + 30min
I once did this interesting exercise at a workshop. Because I had kind, willing and trusting participants. It wouldn't have been possible otherwise.
(By nature, most interesting exercises are a bit weird anyways).
Everyone got an apple (yes the fruit). They first spent time getting to know the apple. By writing a page about it. Not any apple but that apple.
You might be thinking what can you possibly write about an apple. Wait until you read what happened next.
I had everyone move away from their desks (so that they wouldn't hold onto anything) and blindfold each other. Then I blindfolded the last person.
Their only companion was the apple - their apple. The only instruction they got was to get to know the apple better. Also, no sounds please.
We were in a hardly windowed conference room. In the basement of a science museum. With hardly any visitors during weekdays, we had a very quiet environment.
I left them in that conference room, with their apples for may be 20-30min. I told them I'll be coming back after a long time.
I wasn't sure what to expect when I returned. But I was eager to discover how annoyed or engaged they'd be with the exercise. What would they find out? Or not.
Many felt relieved when the blindfolds were removed.
Some had this expression: what kind of weirdness is this? We just wasted 30min.
I know some of you are thinking just that right now.
And then there were others. Who allowed themselves to go a little deeper with the exercise by setting aside their mental filters. With nothing to do, they simply got to know their apples better. You could somehow see this on their faces - softened and friendlier. And they continued to hold onto their apples or be near them.
Then we did this test. We again blindfolded three of those who seemed to have connected well with their apples.
We mixed up several apples and asked them pick their own apple.
And here's the magic. They picked their apples instantly. Blindfolded.
One of the three kept struggling. Later when we asked him what was happening. He said, he couldn't believe his intuition. That he could pick his apple so easily. So kept dropping it back. And trying again. But every single time, he picked his apple from the mix. Easily and surely.
In the end, no one took up the challenge of simply flinging away their apple.
Going deeper, not wider
I recently came across someone talking about a depth year. Of going deeper, not wider. Reading unread books that you already bought. Finishing up that online class you started. And not signing up for that new one you are drawn to.
It made me wonder how going deeper might apply to businesses or organizations. Or developing products. Or even to our individual selves.
- you had only one client? And you are never going to sign up new clients again.
- you had only one product to develop? And you are never going to develop anything new again.
- you had only one team to train? Or just one team-member. And you are never going to hire ever again.
- you had only one problem to solve? And we are never going to pursue other problems again.
- the person sitting next to you were the only colleague you'll ever have?
- this were your last job ever? And your company were the last company left on earth.
What would you do then? And how would you approach what you do?