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The power of hard and soft thinking for your business – Jeff Knight

by: Jeff Knight, head of marketing, Pepper Homeloans
  • 26/07/2016
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The power of hard and soft thinking for your business – Jeff Knight
Are you looking for that big idea? The one that will increase sales, save money, increase productivity or just enhance the motivation of you and your workforce? Then it’s time to think – hard and soft.

As humans, we are constantly thinking. Sometimes our thinking may be about something specific, while at other times our mind may wander off in many different directions. Thinking is a powerful tool and if you want to maximise this, then take a leaf out of Albert Einstein’s book and use the power of hard and soft thinking.

Hard thinking occurs during the times you deliberately set-aside to fully explore a particular issue or challenge. For Einstein, he would pour over his calculations, drawing on his knowledge and having deep discussions with his peers. All this involved hard creative effort.

However, Einstein also appreciated the concept of soft thinking. This is when you consciously set aside the problem and redirect your attention to something else, perhaps enjoyable and relaxing. For Einstein, this was playing the violin or sailing – two things that he loved to do and could ‘disappear’ while he was doing them. You too can harness the power of soft thinking and unleash some creative ideas that could make a big difference to you and your business.

Make time to think

Most of us will find time to undertake some hard thinking, like writing reports. However, do you really allocate enough time for the soft thinking?

With soft thinking, your unconscious mind continues its thinking and then, without warning, a creative thought, an idea, will spring into your conscious mind. Just think about TV crime dramas where the crime gets solved when something else is discussed. Now you don’t have to suddenly take violin lessons to enhance your soft thinking, you can do so by simply undertaking a different task, travelling home from work a different way, relaxing, talking and listening to others, playing sport or just being out of the office. I have found that I generate a lot more creative ideas through soft thinking, but hard thinking is often required to critique these ideas.

Yes, much of our creativity is deep within our subconscious, but accessing this at will is not always that easy, especially when we are under pressure or have time restraints. Nor is an office environment conducive to generating ideas. As Robert Frost said, “The brain is a wonderful organ; it starts the moment you get up and does not stop until you get to the office”.

Spark and capture thoughts

In today’s market, having time out of the office may seem difficult with all the work pressures. This is why you must be disciplined to enhance your soft thinking. You need to create time to get out of the office. Go to seminars. Visit exhibitions. Take a trip to a museum or art gallery. Go to a sales meeting. Any of these can spark a thought that could make a huge difference to you and your business.

You must be ready to capture the thoughts, because many of these will be deep in your subconscious which means that your idea could come at anytime and anywhere. It could be when the working day has ended, when you are at the gym, at a restaurant, at the pub or while watching a film at the cinema or on TV. Quite often, an idea will pop into your conscious when you least expect it. So find a way of capturing the thought before is slips back into your subconscious.

Once you have your ideas, use hard thinking to do undertake an objective critique of these ideas. But whatever you do, don’t just think long and hard about something; think soft too. Just try it. You’ll be amazed at the results, which will be far reaching.

After all, the brain is just like a parachute and works best when it is open.

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