Bookstores are full of business advice books about how to become more creative. Although the advice varies, it usually involves learning to shift your perspective so that you see your tasks and challenges in new ways.
For proposal professionals, this often involves brainstorming meetings about win themes, proposal strategy, storyboarding, and the like. However, there is ample evidence that often new perspectives come when you free yourself, however briefly, from your everyday environment. Creative ideas also may appear when you are not actively searching for them. For example, how many good ideas have popped into your head while showering in the morning?
Below are some examples of how well-known creative people have found some of their best ideas:
• Leo Tolstoy. The great Russian writer was a vigorous walker and horseback rider, finding physical movement a great spur to his writing.
• Steve Jobs. He held walking meetings with his management team to brainstorm new ideas for Apple.
• Pyotr Tchaikovsky. The Russian composer took a stroll around his village before he sat down to compose in the morning, and another after lunch. While walking, he would jot down his musical ideas.
• Maya Angelou. The famed writer often found in best ideas in a hotel room she rented just to write. Oddly, she never changed the bedsheets and took all the pictures off the walls.
• Charles Dickens. England’s great novelist placed many of his books in cities, so he liked to stroll the streets of London for hours where the sights, sounds, and smells inspired his imagination.
• Bill Gates. Twice a year, the founder of Microsoft likes to spend up to seven days alone in his cottage uninterrupted by visitors, including his own family.
• Toni Morrison. Before writing, she likes to watch the sun rise in complete silence.
• Friedrich Nietzsche. This philosopher enjoyed walking alone in the mountains and woods with a notebook to jot down his thoughts.
As a proposal professional, can you come up with ways to shift your perspective and develop creative ideas? Whatever your approach, it probably should involve abandoning your office, spending time outdoors, moving, and untethering yourself from the noise around you. Sometimes you have to leave work in order to work better and more creatively.