Looking for Inspiration? Take a Walk


Taking a walk can spur creativityMy very first boss had a unique way of working. Some people did not quite understand him because whenever you walked past his office it seemed as if he was not doing very much in the way of work. Frankly, it took a little while for me to get it too, but once I did he never ceased to amaze me.

We worked on a difficult client and our team consistently had to put fires out, but he was busy playing games on his computer. However, without fail the very next morning he would come in to work with an ideal solution, and we moved forward. You see, it turns out that he did his best problem-solving thinking during his 25-minute walk to and from the office.

Every writer has a preferred method or two for those annoying periods of writer’s block. When I have writer’s block, I usually take a walk outside or on the treadmill. Sometimes I even return from a walk with a list of notes on my phone’s notepad of items that I would like to investigate or write about.

Perhaps I started this because of my boss, or maybe I just noticed that it works for me, too. I don’t remember, to be honest. Yet recent research has proven that people who exercise regularly are better at creative thinking.

In my case, it may not mean that I am better than anyone else at creative thinking, but exercise certainly triggers something that allows me to think more freely and let the ideas flow.

Researchers at Leiden University wanted to know whether regular exercise may promote different types of creative thinking known as divergent and convergent thinking. Divergent thinking is coming up with several potential solutions to a certain problem, while convergent thinking leads to one single correct solution for a given problem.

It turns out that people who exercise at least four times a week performed significantly better on a series of creative problem-solving tasks than those who do not exercise at all.

So if you want to succeed in business without really trying, at least consider taking a walk.