tigers and inspiration

July 24, 2013

by william choukeir

the need for certainty is the greatest disease the mind faces.
—Robert Greene

you’re either a designer or hospitality concept-owner. you’re standing before a tiger ready to leap at you with his claws. naturally, you don’t take notice of the wet grass, nor feel the warmth of the sun. instead, you’re so tense that you’ve isolated out everything but the tiger. it’s highly unlikely that you’ll get a spark of inspiration right now.

when we focus on a project, it’s just like facing a tiger. our attention becomes so focused and narrow, we grow tense, and the mind reduces the amount of stimuli down to only what’s vital. we fail to notice all the inspiring possibilities around us.

best selling author Robert Greene, in his book ‘Mastery’, gives us two steps that help us invite inspiration.

  1. RELAX
    you relax without focusing directly on the problem. you take walks or attend unrelated activities. the tension disappears and you can easily accept incoming stimuli. you invite unexpected ideas no matter how irrational, then explore where they lead. you note down these ideas, especially when you’re most relaxed; while dozing off to sleep or waking up.
  2. WIDEN YOUR SEARCH
    our minds are limited and cannot explore all possibilities. instead we rely on random stimulation, which leads to inspiration. to maximise this, you widen your search into other fields. most importantly you’ll want to trust this process. trust that the mind, when exposed to a multitude of unrelated ideas, will make the most unheard-of associations; associations often labeled as genius.

you could also apply these lessons to the spaces you create for your team and customers, to maximse creativity and inspiration. let’s learn from these giants.

Apple, Google, Pixar, and countless other giants can’t be wrong.

  • they make the spaces appear homely to promote a relaxed environment, which leads to a mind receptive to unrelated stimuli.
  • they integrate multiple types of seating to encourage long conversations.
  • they design all their sitting spaces to maximise random encounters, which maximises exposure to random stimuli.

Google studies show that this arrangement was responsible for innovations like Gmail and Street View, and has boosted creativity by 25%.

armed with this knowledge, both designers and hospitality concept-owners can benefit. concept-owners can either throw a tiger in front of their designers and create urgency, or they can give them the space to ignore ‘the need for certainty’, to step into the unknown, and to invite inspiration. each has its pros and cons. the best judge is you.

here is some inspiration of how Google and Pixar design their seating arrangements:
(Pixar photographs by Sharon Risedorph)


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3 Responses to “tigers and inspiration”

  1. very nice newsletter!

    apple,google,pixar…and we can add casafekra. this is the feeling I get now that I have joined the team and feel comfortable in a very relaxed office.

    I really hope we can grow this company and inspire all team members to join in.

  2. thank you Joe!
    much appreciated.

  3. […] spaces that create a positive affect reinforce ‘breadth thinking’, imagination, and our ability to make connections between seemingly unrelated subjects [4,5]. a study shows that individuals surrounded by positive affect can make 25% more connections than those in a neutral space [5]. no wonder Google, Apple, and Pixar use positive affect to drive innovation. […]

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